March 30, 2011 Jason

Between Contracts – What to Do?

image via Flickr - Jeff McNeill

image via Flickr – Jeff McNeill

The freelance world seems to be a feast-or-famine environment, where sometimes you’re too busy to slip out for a coffee with business associates, and other times you’re sitting at your keyboard, trying to figure out how to find all of the golden eggs in Angry Birds.  Hurry up and wait is not an ideal position to be in, but it does happen in the freelancers life. There’s a difference between being between projects and being without work.  Sometimes, just the way the schedules work out, you can find that you’ve just wrapped up one job, and you’re already approved for the next job, but you can’t start on it until the client sends over the appropriate info.

Here are a few things you can do while you’re waiting:

  • Review your client list – Are you working with the people you want to work with, or just the ones that say yes?  Take a look at your best clients, and see how you can attract more just like them.
  • Send out a customer satisfaction survey – what are your clients saying about you?  Do you have any of their testimonials on your website?  Do a 5 question survey to help keep your business top of mind, and to find out how you can improve your services.
  • Update your website/twitter profile/facebook page – When was the last time you reviewed your site?  Are all of your links working?  Have you updated your FAQ page with questions from your clients?  What’s your pagerank, and where are you showing up for basic search terms about your business?  Is the last post on your blog from six months ago?
  • Network – follow up on the connections you’ve made in the past few months.  Look for local meetups of folks in your freelance field, or just freelancers in general.  Life is pretty unique as a freelancer, so being able to chat with someone that understands the business is a great benefit to you.  Blowing off steam, running through ideas, and looking at the business through another pair of eyes  – huge value.
  • Clean up Your Office – get your receipts all in order for tax time, organize your desk, purge your inbox (email and real) – not only is this a cathartic activity, you’ll probably find another project in the piles of stuff on your desk.
  • Find a Passive Income Stream – affiliate ads, adsense, article directories, tutorials, ebooks etc – try to find at least one new form of income.  Write once, get paid multiple times is a beautiful business model.
  • Stay educated – you’re probably good at keeping up on new industry trends and techniques, but if you aren’t, now is a great time to find some new information.  Technology moves quickly and there are new tools coming out all the time to make your life easier, but they rarely come knocking on your door – usually, you’re going to need to search for them.
  • Never Stop Marketing – You’re between projects, not out of work.  Your business needs the constant fuel of new projects, and you should be able to predict your income for at least the next three months.  If you can’t – you’ve got to get more leads in the hopper.  Reach out to old clients, old leads, and old contacts.  Don’t be pushy – but find a way to get back on their radar.  In the freelance world, you pretty much have to eat what you kill, but you’re going to need to eat in the future, too.  If you stop marketing, your business will slow down, can you afford that?

By no means is this a complete list – there are so many other things you can do.  Spend quality time with your family.  Take a quick vacation.  Plan your next six months.  Review your freelancing life, and so much more.   In an ideal world, new contracts would start as soon as old ones finish, but , as you already know, this is not what happens in the real world.

OK- gotta get back to angry birds – so close to getting that last egg!

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