Howdy Do It – Week 7


Hello, Pitch! Margot and I switched gears this week. She’s talking about how to be productive when you’ve got a big workload, and I’m talking about what to do with yourself when things slow way down.

See, I had a feeling December would be a slow month. Even my non-wedding design clients dropped off the face of the earth, deciding that gathering copy and images could wait until 2010. Remembering how my own wedding planning went, I anticipated a slow holiday season and “mentioned” to a friend who owned a retail store that I’d have some free time in December. In other words: I’m terrified I will not make a single penny this whole month and I’m going to have an anxiety attack. She was happy to find something for me to do around the shop, and I was happy to have the extra income. I even ended up helping her with some design projects I may not have gotten otherwise! A steady stream of inquiries for my work did keep me positive, but I’m glad I anticipated the additional free time.

I’ve talked to a bunch of freelancers over the past year, and all of them have agreed on one thing: it’s often feast or famine. Workloads can swing from overwhelming to scarily quiet in a moment. Here’s a list of things I keep in mind for when I have a slow day:

• Design for your portfolio:
My husband likes to do band posters, I like to brainstorm ideas for invitations and note cards. Whatever project you choose, it should either be something experimental that will help you grow as a designer, or something that will be a good addition to your portfolio.

• Work on your home office: I finally got the chance to set up and organize an official work space in my house!

• Update or redesign your site/blog/print materials

• Bookkeeping: Find receipts, update spreadsheets, get organized.

• Set goals for your business and outline the first steps you need to take to achieve them

• Submit work for design contests

• Network: set up some lunch meetings, meet new colleagues and catch up with old ones

• Focus on new clients: brainstorm ways to get new clients, research advertising opportunities

• Take it easy & refuel! Sometimes a slow workload can be a welcome break.

So what do you do when things are slow?

{Photo credit: September Inspirations by Mav.}
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Howdy Do It came from “how do you do It,” the question Ellie & Margot found themselves asking about their freelance lifestyles, and so Howdy Do It was born, a weekly column about the things we do to keep ourselves organized, inspired and on track. Ellie will be here each Monday, and Margot will be over on Mint at the same time.

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