If so, resist the temptation to stay in bed all day. Or run around in a panic because you have few or no client projects to work on.
Rather, think of this as the time to get some of your own projects done. Consider this “free time” you can use to get better in your field and to make your portfolio and resume more impressive.
By staying busy with personal projects, you avoid stressing out over your lack of work (and income). Instead, you can focus on improving your skills and improving your chances of landing better clients.
Here are five personal projects you can work on right now to make yourself more attractive to prospective clients.
1. Create a Report, White Paper or Case Study
You don’t have to be a freelance writer to write a short report. Even if you’re a photographer, designer or programmer, a text document is still an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise.
Think of past projects you’ve completed. What lessons did you and your clients learn that would be valuable to prospective clients as well? Do you have a success story that demonstrate how the application of a certain principle in your field can help others?
Write it down into a brief report, nothing more than 12 pages in most cases. If you have a hard time writing, record yourself speaking and then have the audio transcribed. Barter services with other freelancers for transcription, editing, design and lay-out, if necessary.
If you must mention specific individuals or companies in your report, make sure you get their permission first.
After you have your special report, keep it handy to give to prospects. Send a digital copy when you send a “cold” email. Or offer it for free in your print ad. Have hard copies to give away when you attend networking events. If you have a blog or site, give the report away in exchange for people’s contact information.
2. Update Your Blog/Site
Take a long, good look at your blog/site. Is it updated? Does it communicate effectively with your Ideal Client? Are your work samples and testimonials fresh? Does your services page still mention work you don’t do any more?
If you blog, now’s the time to write posts in advance and pre-schedule them. That way, when the client projects start pouring in, your blog won’t get neglected.
Make sure your posts either directly or indirectly promote your services. You don’t have to be hard-sell about it. Simply write the types of blog posts that attract clients.
Promote your blog. Offer to write guest posts on other blogs. Leave thoughtful comments in blogs that your Ideal Clients read. Click here to get more ideas for increasing traffic to your blog.
Also revisit your site’s design. Is it still attractive and easy to navigate? Or does your site need a new look? Maybe your site needs a slight redesign or a total overhaul. Get to it now.
And don’t forget to look under the hood of your site. Update your plugins. Delete the ones you don’t use anymore. And, most importantly, make sure your site is regularly backed up.
3. Work on Your Dream Project
Is there a dream project you wish somebody would hire you to do? Don’t wait. Give the project to yourself.
Let’s say, for example, that I’ve always wanted to write a sales page and split test it to death. I could either quickly create an information product or buy resell rights to an existing one, write a sales page, split test different elements of it, and document the results.
Not only will this sales page be a new addition to my work samples. I’ll also have real-life proof of what elements convert better. I could even create a free or paid report out of the split tests. And, finally, I could make some passive income on the side (more on that later).
4. Volunteer for a Non-profit
Another excellent way to use some freelancing down-time is to find non-profits that need your services. Give them your services for free. If they’re happy with your work, ask for a testimonial and referrals.
You don’t even have to ask for anything back for your volunteer work. What goes around, comes around.
5. Set Up Passive Income Streams
This is my favorite way to use free time. If you write, learn to set up affiliate sites. Or write a few articles, put your affiliate links in the resource box, and publish them in article directories.
Or create your own products to sell, such as icons, graphics, website templates and WordPress themes. If you’re a programmer, create a script you can sell. Or a mobile phone app.
None of these things will probably be enough for you to quit freelancing. At least not right away. However, it’s reassuring to know you can earn an income in other ways… even if all your clients disappeared.
Of course, you shouldn’t attempt to do all of these things at once, even if you have zero clients at the moment. Just start with one. Finish it and then move on to the next.
Share Your Personal Projects
I doubt you’ll get to do every single thing on this list before your work load picks up again.
In the meantime, do share: how do you keep busy during the lean times? What personal projects would you pursue if you didn’t have to do client work?
Image by amarette