:: UPDATED FOR 2016! ::
If you’re a content marketer, freelance writer or other creative, you probably love this time of year. With everyone making their final pushes for the holiday retail season, work tends to flow pretty easy. But in a month or two, it’ll start… blogs and forums will sound the alarms about work disappearing and clients going silent.
There is a popular phrase within the freelance community to describe these cycles: “Feast or Famine”.
It always seems that when things in the self-employment journey are going great, they are exceptional. When things take a downward turn, they do it in grand fashion.
However, there are a number of ways to help combat this trend. By incorporating these methods into your work-at-home routine, you can help to even the swells and dips in income and enjoy a reliable, stable source of income while managing family obligations with ease.
Diversify Your Work at Home Income
I cannot emphasize how important diversification is in stabilizing and reducing the effects of feast or famine cycles.
By keeping your income spread between a variety of sources, any decrease in work or pay from one can be adjusted and accounted for within others. In coming posts, I will be listing current work-at-home and freelance job opportunities that I have found throughout the Internet.
A big part of successfully building freelance income is targeting the market that needs what you have to offer. This market is created by living, breathing people. In turn, the market behaves like a living creature as well. Learning how to evolve with the market is a crucial skill for freelancers of any type.
But before you go out signing on for everything you can find, take a good look at your availability and how much work you can mentally handle. Burning out and losing sight of your goals will never improve income, no matter how important the cause or motivation.
Not to mention, when you are overworked and trying to manage too much at once, your work will likely suffer. When it comes to being a freelancer of any sort, your product is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Never sacrifice quality and service for quantity. While it might boost your bank account in the short-term, there’s all chance it will come back to haunt you over the long haul.
It’s also important to remember, you don’t need new clients to create new income sources. You can also create your own. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about your own income sources ignoring invoices, changing orders at the last minute or micro-managing your time!
Brent Galloway over at Your Freelancer Career has a great guide on ways you can build income streams without hunting down clients.
Build Relationships with Your Clients
While it’s important to conduct yourself in a professional manner, don’t be afraid to get personal if it looks like they’ll be a long-term client. Finding out about their personal interests and daily lives creates a sense of friendship and personal investment on both sides.
From small talk between orders to suggestions on future articles or ideas, these little things show your client that you understand who they are and their needs. It might even improve the chances of them coming to you with new ideas or sticking with a campaign or project they might be on the fence about.
By keeping lines of communication between yourself and clients open, you can build a relationship with clients and keep your business fresh in their mind. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with clients, at least secure a few reliable contact methods. You never know when you might need to get in touch with a client, their inbox might fill up or you might have an emergency that leaves you without Internet access.
Better still, if you ever have a lull in work and need to find a few quick orders, firing off a quick message to your clients will not seem any different from normal communication.
While it’s ultimately to promote their own service, this guide from Groove offers value for any freelancer. You’ll find some convincing statistics and simple ways to personalize the client experience.
Network with Other Freelancers
To date, many of my best leads and longest lasting projects haven’t come through job sites, classifieds or project proposals. They’ve come from referrals by other freelancers!
While most freelancers understand that it’s important to build a social presence for their brand or business, too many overlook the benefit of creating a presence and network for themselves with in the freelancing community as well! Working for yourself doesn’t mean you need to shut out the world. However, like anything that doesn’t directly contribute to income, finding a balance is important.
Much like promoting your brand, you also want to avoid simply pushing yourself on others. Connect with big names in your niche, freelancers with skills you might find useful or those near where you live. Once you do, find out about their needs–things they struggle with or things they’re working on. Then find a way to help them.
By doing this, they get a sense of your working style and skills. When a client or lead asks them if they know someone who can help them, you’ll be at the tip of their tongue!
This trick is awesome because it works both ways. If you have a client looking for a service you can’t provide, you now have a pre-qualified pool of options for them that you know will make the client happy and make you look good at the same time!
Here’s a few of my favorite places to network with other freelancers:
Turn Past Clients into New Business with Thank You Notes
One of my favorite methods of generating a few extra orders when my queue gets low is thank you notes to previous clients. These thank you notes do not have to be extravagant. Just a quick message stating you have not heard from them in a while and wanted to see how their current projects are progressing. You can also check in to see if their seeing the results they expected from projects you helped with.
Transition from this to thanking them for their previous business. Finally, you can seal the deal with a reminder that you are always available for future orders. When my workload is getting light, this method almost always lands an order or two to keep things moving along smoothly.
The best part of this is that you don’t come across like you’re soliciting work or having any issues with workloads. If you are worried about a surge of orders, consider sending out a few of these emails a day to keep the responses and potential deadlines staggered.
Not sure where to get started or what to say? Grasshopper has an awesome guide to writing killer thank you notes.
With a bit of practice and some proactive thinking, you will be able to predict how your workload and client base is going to react to various holidays and changes in trends. Before long, you will be able to enjoy a freelance income free of these feast or famine cycles and start reaping the benefits of being a family freelancer year round.
If you have a comment or suggestion about this post, I want to hear from you! Have a secret tip you use for keeping a healthy stack of leads rolling in? Leave you comment in the box below.
This site is nothing without you and strives to provide relevant, helpful information to support your success. If you’ve found this information useful, please share it with friends and let us know how we helped your business!