There comes that time in the life of every freelancer: That time when almost no work is coming through the door. In that scenario, in comes the panic, the anxiety, and the sleepless nights you’ll spend wondering how you’re going to pay the upcoming rent, if you’ve already been through a burnout you’ll recognize the symptoms. Whether you’re a freelance professional who specializes in writing, web design, marketing or anything else, you’ve probably spent lots of time nursing the relationships you have with your current clients, as well as marketing yourself through your website, business cards and networking events.
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But with all of that effort, work dead-ends do happen. So how to get out of it and get some quick cash flowing in? Here are some tried-and-true tricks for scaring up freelance work when there seems to be none available.
1. Get back in touch with past clients
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to drum up the work that will get you paid quickly is to seek out the clients with whom you’ve done business in the past. Send them an email saying you had a client project drop out or that you have some extra time on your hands, and you’d like to see if they’re in need of any new services. Even better: come to the table with a project, story idea or other new concept that matches the client’s mission. If you get a no, ask for a referral.
2. Follow up with missed encounters
Start looking through your date book or calendar, or pore over the business cards you’ve collected over the past few months. Are there any potential clients with whom you’ve forgotten to follow up? Ideally, you’ll have written a note on the back of the business card about what type of work the prospect was interested in, so that you can make a phone call or send an email reminding the client of that idea -and also bringing some ideas about how you can help.
3. Go for the big fish
Remember that book you were writing or that app you started to create and then never finished because you were so busy working on other projects? Now could be the time to pick it back up again. While it’s not necessarily going to help you bring in quick cash, that long-term project can be a way to bring in long-term income, if you actually finish it. With a little extra time on your hands, don’t feel guilty for spending some of that time working on your long-term goals.
4. Invest in your career
When times are slow, it’s also a great time to re-invest in your skills. Attend a workshop or a conference that teaches you a new facet of your industry, or start going to meetups that pertain to your industry. You never know; you might even meet some prospective clients or fellow freelancers who have an excess of work and who need someone to help pick up the slack.
5. Build a new network on a jobs board
6. Cold call or email prospects
Before the advent of social media and websites, cold calling was a lot more common -but that doesn’t mean the art is dead. Don’t be afraid to research the companies you think you want to freelance for, and then call or email them directly to pitch your services. Find out what their pain is or what they need, and then present an idea that demonstrates how you can ease that pain for them. It sounds painful and you will face rejection, but chances are you’ll also get some people to say "yes" as well.
Hopefully, you’re the wise type of freelancer who squirrels away money during times of plenty, so that you won’t have to worry quite as much when you hit a dry patch. But by constantly marketing yourself in new and various ways -and continuing to use the methods that actually do work- you probably won’t be in that dry spell for long.