5 Productive Things for Freelancers to Do During a Slow Season

Two characters holding flower pots. Each of them has a flower that is thriving that helps indicate their difference. illustrated by Lo Harris
Illustration by Lo Harris. See more of my work here.

As a full-time creative, you’re bound to face a slow season. 

Within your first year as a full-time freelance creative, you’re going to notice that during some months the money is raining down like manna from heaven. And then other months will have you questioning whether or not you should have taken that leap of faith to strike out on your own. And then there’s that one month out of the year where maybe, just maybe, you’re about ready to start selling them eggs… No? Just me? Anyways!

Don’t panic. This is completely normal. It’s a natural part of the circle of freelance life. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve got this!

What will separate you from the creatives who throw in the towel and head back to their corporate cubicle is how you use your free time during these slow months. 

What is a Freelance Slow Season?

As a creative freelancer, you’re also an entrepreneur. And like any company, you’re going to have seasons when business is booming and other times when you’re lurking on LinkedIn looking for jobs. 

One quarter you may have jobs and opportunities pouring in. But once all those projects are wrapped up you may find yourself in a bit of a drought. These dry seasons might take a toll on your confidence as a creative. But they don’t have to!

How to Survive Your Freelance Slow Season

When you’re facing a freelance slow season, it’s important to keep busy anyway. Otherwise, you’ll just sit around mulling over your life choices. 

Use your downtime wisely and take this quiet time as an opportunity to take your business to the next level. In addition to pitching to past and prospective clients, you can use this time to boss up. Here are some things you can try.

Build your brand. 

Brand building doesn’t have to be complicated. Get clear on who you are, what you do, and why you do it, and figure out how you’re going to effectively convey these things to the people that you want and need to connect with. That’s it. That’s brand building. Use your slow months to figure all this out. 

Then decide on some content pillars to help you get your social media strategy straight. Here at Lo Harris Universe, my content pillars are WORK, PLAY, LEARN, and INSPIRE. That means I’m creating content to empower and educate and I’m doing so by sharing my story and the stories of other artists, and by showing up as my authentic self every step of the way. 

If you’re already clear on your content pillars and you’ve been creating consistent content for a while, use your downtime to consider ways you could diversify your content. 

Double down on your vision. 

Use this quiet season as a chance to take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I happy with the trajectory of my creative career and my life?” Get clear on your one-year, five-year, and 10-year goals and start developing plans for how you will make your dreams your reality. 

Boost your bio.

Have you updated your bio recently? Probably not. Your slow season is the perfect time to get that bio snatched. If you’re having trouble writing your own bio, hire a professional copywriter to help you out if that’s in your budget. If not, turn to your tribe for help. There has to be someone in your crew who’s a wordsmith. Make a list of all of the skills, projects, and accomplishments you’d like your bio to highlight, and then ask your friend to work their magic.

Polish your portfolio. 

Your slow season is also a great time for a portfolio glow-up. Launch or re-launch your website and create a beautiful archive of all of your hard work.

Live your life!  

My slow season usually hits during the summer months. So I use this time to get outside and enjoy nature. Use this downtime to live your life. It’s often our time outside of our studios that inspire our greatest work. Try a new hobby or passion project. And when you are creating, don’t be afraid to experiment with a new technique. 

Remember it’s also okay to rest! You don’t have to be productive and creative every single day of the year. Yes, you can take a break without breaking your business. 

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lo harris poses with her choice illustration markers

Lo Harris is an NYC-based artist, educator and children’s book illustrator who champions vibrance, confidence and joy.

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In an effort to make life as an artist more accessible and approachable for all, I’ll be sharing tips, tricks and resources to help you thrive while navigating a career as an artist, designer, or freelance creative. If you like what I do, consider making a donation to help support me in sharing with my creative community.
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