How to keep positive when the climate is tough

Posted on: January 25th, 2012

If, like many freelancers, you’ve entered 2012 without too many client projects on the go, it can be scary wondering where your next bit of business is coming from.

And unless you live in a warm country, damp and cold January is not the easiest month for many of us. Here are a few pointers to help you keep positive at this time of year:

1. Remember that feast and famine is the natural cycle for freelancers

We all get times when we’re so snowed under, we don’t know how to cope. Then we get times when there’s no prospect of any work on the immediate horizon. It’s always like that, so try not to panic if you’re not busy at the moment.

About five years ago, January was going to be a mega-busy month for me, with two major projects due to happen at once. I spent Christmas worrying how I’d cope and, in the end, BOTH got cancelled.

It can be good to have time on your hands, as it gives you the opportunity to reconnect with old contacts, to undertake some marketing and to network. It also gives you the space to take a step back from your day-to-day business, to review your goals and have a long, hard think about the kind of clients and projects you want to go after.

2. See your friends

If you’re going through a quiet period, meet up with friends. Socialising doesn’t have to cost lots of money: you can meet for a coffee, go for a walk in the park, or visit a gallery. Catching up with friends is important and, if they are also freelance, they’re most likely going through the same experience themselves. And, you never know, they may just know of someone who is in need of your particular skills.

3. Take time out to enjoy yourself

Sitting at home worrying about your business (or lack of it) won’t magic up new clients. So my third suggestion is to go and do something you enjoy. You’ll feel much better for it and will, hopefully, return feeling more positive and in a better frame of mind to tackle the issue of how you’re going to find more work.

4. Buy a Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD) lamp

If, like me, you suffer from the January blues and the short days and lack of sunlight get you down, invest in a SAD lamp. I have one on my desk – it’s not quite the equivalent of a bright Caribbean sky but it does help. Also, try to go out for a 30-minute walk at lunchtime so that you can get the positive effects of what daylight we do have.

5. Think of another income stream

If your usual clients have all cut their budgets and you need to boost your income to pay your regular bills, is there some other way you could earn money? For example by taking on a part-time job (like dog walking or working in a bar), or setting up a shop on eBay or Amazon, or putting other skills you may possess to good use (such as translating or becoming a private tutor if you are fluent in another language).

What strategies do you employ to get through tough times?

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