Making The Most Of Downtime When You’re Self Employed: What To Do When Work Is Slow

Over the last few weeks I’ve definitely noticed that my inbox is less cluttered, there are fewer meetings in my diary and generally there’s not as much work as there had been in the months prior. Although that sounds a bit scary, it’s just a normal part of life as a freelancer. You have those periods when you feel like you’re constantly juggling a million things and barely keeping afloat, and those months where everything seems to be progressing a lot slower. Although I used to be able to predict the peaks and troughs, in the last few years they’ve somewhat merged into one and left pretty much 11 months of the year consistent; that leaves only one month (namely August) for me to take a step back and breathe, while everyone else is out enjoying the sun and taking their holidays. It can be scary if you hit a quiet period for the first time, especially when you’re self employed or manage your own business, but these weeks are incredibly important and provide the perfect opportunity to take stock and plan ahead.

If you work for yourself, manage a small business or run a blog you want to take to the next level, then there are some crucial things you could be doing to ensure when the busy period hits again you’re absolutely nailing it and are confident in what you want to achieve. Those quiet weeks are a blessing and provide a great opportunity to focus and set objectives, as well as a moment to think about how you can expand into new areas or connect with new audiences.

LOOK BACK 

What’s worked well for you over the last six months, and what maybe not as much? Much can be learned from simply reflecting on what you’ve achieved and what resonates with your audience or customer; from a blogging point of view, what posts have worked exceptionally well and which have left you surprisingly disappointed? During my transition from purely beauty into more lifestyle content, I paid attention to the posts that were getting the most engagement and those which obviously didn’t resonate or were a step too far; because of this I instantly knew to focus on beauty, fashion and general chat, rather than trying to squeeze in everything from books and food to fitness.

PLAN FORWARD 

Write down a list of what you’d like to achieve in the next six months to a year – and no idea is too blue sky or too big. Whether it’s launching a new product, starting a podcast, investing in yourself or simply working with a specific brand, sometimes writing it down is all you need to kickstart the idea. Setting goals gives you something to look towards and to take you out of the daily grind of just doing enough to get by, stimulating creativity and challenging yourself to move from outside of your comfort zone. Because being comfortable doesn’t get you anywhere.

REFINE & PERFECT 

A big part of what I do within my blog coaching sessions (find out more here!) is simply looking over what has been built before, and identifying key areas for improvement. Often a few tweaks or an alternative point of view can make all the difference, allowing you to connect with your readers and really refine who you are online. What are your unique selling points? Are you really selling yourself and your achievements within your ‘about me’ page? Are you best utilising your social media to amplify your content and messages? Does your newsletter offer a real point of value to look forward to? Being objective can ensure you’re being effective.

AMPLIFY & CONNECT 

Often we’re so busy ticking off our to-do list or remembering to post some content, that we forget that social media provides a huge opportunity to connect with your audience and amplify the content you’ve spent hours creating. Spending that downtime scheduling tweets and Facebook posts, curating a great Instagram feed or simply finding new ways to amplify your existing content can help you to remain discoverable while feeding your audience more of what they enjoy. Are there ways in which you can look to build a community or ensure your social pages are a must-follow?

EXPAND YOUR OFFERING

Looking beyond your current offering can help provide new revenue streams and new ways of expanding your business; perhaps it’s as simple as updating your media kit to reflect package deals, moving into consultancy or working as an industry expert, adding a podcast or e-course into your portfolio, or launching your own merchandise. Having your fingers in lots of pies is always a good idea when you’re self employed, so find ways to diversify while remaining focused on what you want to achieve in the long-term. Etsy stores, product lines, photography services… These side hustles all provide ways of making some extra cash without compromising on your brand.

Although all of these points will no doubt be helpful, it’s also important to remember to breathe; taking some time out, or even a day off to pamper yourself, can pay dividends in the long run as your mind is focused and energised. During my downtime I make the most of quiet days by catching up with family and friends, treating myself to a shopping trip or few hours watching Netflix, driving to new places and allowing my brain time to dream – and it couldn’t be more thankful. Make sure you remember to do the same…

How do you use your downtime to re-energise and focus?

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3 Comments

  1. Erin Russell
    August 26, 2018 / 9:17 am

    I'm at a point just now where I am doing this. I feel like I have let my blog slip over the past few months and I need to spend time to revaluate what it is I am working towards. I love the idea of looking back at old content and going from there. So I might just have to do that! Erin || MakeErinOver

    • Hayley Hall
      August 28, 2018 / 8:50 am

      Do it! It's amazing the difference some reflection can make – we often just keep going and don't take an opportunity to breathe and understand what we're trying to achieve and why.

  2. Pam
    August 30, 2018 / 8:51 am

    Even at work things are a lot slower these past few weeks but I’m not complaining, it gives me time to get things I wouldnt otherwise!
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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