There are one or two months of every year, when my business slows down a bit. Even the most successful buisnesses experience a lull, whether because of the state of the economy or just a certain time of year. For me, it's August. I find a lot of my clients are taking time off, and most of their employees are doing the same. This is the perfect time to do the things you don't usually have time for. Here are 5 things to do when business is slow.
1. Organize Your Files
Rarely do I have time to sit down and organize my desktop. My client folders are usually in pretty good shape, but my desktop can turn into a horror show if I let it go too long. I tend to use my desktop as a drag and drop station. I often see things online that inspire me, whether it is a funky festival poster, or a cool use of typography, and I simply drag it onto my desktop. After a month or so, my desktop becomes cluttered, and a bit scary looking. So during a period of light work, take the time to organize your files. Create a folder called "Creative Inspiration" with sub folders such as, "Cool Posters" or "Funky Typography." You will be happy you did this when you are searching for some creative inspiration on your next project.
2. Enhance Your Website
Take a look at your website. Audit your content. A good place to start is your profile (or About Me) page. Freshen up the content by offering some insight you gained on your latest design project. Write a new blog post about your latest client success stories. This is also a good time to analyze your brand, and freshen up icons and buttons that could use an update. Add links within your site to drive traffic to specific services you'd like to market. Update your blog posts with additional links to other posts, this will keep your visitors engaged.
3. Update Your Portfolio
Your portfolio is one of the most important tools in gaining new business. Many potential clients will judge your design ability solely by the work featured in your portfolio. Your portfolio should be up-to-date at all times, but the reality is... we get busy. We finish one project while the next is about to begin, or in most cases, we are working on numerous projects at once. Therefore, it's hard to find the time to package your latest design projects and update your digital portfolio, but once you do, you instantly have new creative for your next blog post, where you can discuss the project, any obstacles along the way, and lessons learned.
4. Gather Testimonials
I make it standard practice to request a testimonial from my clients at the end of our first project together. Reviews and testimonials will strengthen your authority position in your industry. Testimonials provide feedback and positive reinforcement. I recently asked some of my long-time clients for testimonials to include on my website. It was so encouraging. In the business of freelance graphic design, we designers stand alone. We don't have a room full of creatives to bounce ideas off of, or a boss to give us a pat on the back when we've done a good job. Testimonials are a great way to give yourself a confidence boost, much needed when business is slow.
5. Take a Break
What? A break?? How can I possibly take a break when business is slow? The nature of the freelance business is to work hard when you have work. Most of the year, I am working late nights and weekends on various projects for any number of clients. We, creative entrepreneurs, rarely take time off. Even when I'm on vacation, I'm working. It's just the nature of owning your own small business. If you are not there to do the work, then there is no one running the business.
When you experience a lull, don't stress out. Take a much needed break. I often struggle with this, myself, because taking time off from my business makes me feel guilty. I know, it's silly, but freelance work can be so unpredictable, that we feel if we are not giving 110% to our business 365 days of the year, we will fail. This is not true. A successful business owner knows the importance of taking a break. Take a trip, go on an adventure... it's amazing how a new place, a different culture, or even a walk on the beach can energize you and spur on creative ideas.
Keep moving forward.