At the beginning of the September, I hadn’t booked any new work since April. I’d finished my last big project in early August, and I had nothing in my diary {excluding my retainer clients} for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to the end of the month. I’d booked three big projects and was almost fully booked through to 2024.

Feast or Famine

This is precisely why you’ll often hear people describe freelancing as a feast or famine existence. It might even be the most challenging aspect of working for yourself – staying calm when things are quiet, knowing it won’t last forever, and then working your butt off when you’re busy.

Although time and experience can reveal certain patterns or cycles, the uncertainty can be draining, especially if your quiet periods create financial stress. In these moments, it can be tempting to say yes to anything that comes your way. This can lead to working on the wrong things or with the wrong clients. {Been there, done that.}

This aspect of being freelance definitely requires a particular mindset. Aside from trusting the work will come, when panic sets in, you must be able to turn it into action. It’s not easy, and wobbles about a lack of work, sales or enquiries are an inevitable part of running your own business.

Ebbs and Flows     

These days, my quiet spells don’t seem to cause me quite as much worry. Everything ebbs and flows. Energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and our ability to be productive. Why should work be any different?

Besides, we need fallow seasons. We are not robots or machines. I do not have the same capacity for work all year round and my output is bound to vary. Sometimes I’m on fire and sometimes I struggle to find even a hint of a spark. Viewed from this perspective, my recent lull was a gift – a much needed pause in an otherwise busy year. So, how did I fill my days?

Things to Do When it’s Quiet

  • Take a proper break. I planned to take two weeks off in August, but in the end, I was able to take three. I wasn’t mad about it.
  • Work on a passion project or hobby. I did a lot or scrapbooking and reading.
  • Take a class or do a course. I signed-up for Hannah’s ‘Back to Business Bootcamp’ and really enjoyed receiving her emails each day.
  • Do the ‘boring’ tasks you’ve been putting off. I made sure I was up to date with admin and finished this year’s tax return.
  • Batch create some content for your business. I kept myself busy working on blog posts, emails and some graphic posts for IG. It felt good to have a few things in the bank once work picked up.
  • Update your website. My portfolio page received some much-needed TLC.
  • Remind people you exist! Touch base with old clients via email, do some good old fashioned in-person networking, put some content out about your services and availability, share a recent testimonial… the list goes on!
  • The Words I Always Come Back To

When my inbox is quiet and I start to feel like I’ll never work again, the mantra I come back to is, ‘the work will come, it always does.’

Because it does and it will. I promise

P.S. Katherine May on why fallow periods in a writer’s life are times to treasure and use for reflection.

P.P.S. A version of this post originally appeared in Letters From Love Audrey, my monthly newsletter filled with creative inspiration for you and your business. If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like more of the same in your inbox, you can sign-up here.

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