How to Survive Downtime as Creatives
For those of us who work project to project, wintertime can be a challenging time since the work will slow down significantly after Halloween. At this point of the year, most clients would be focusing on the holiday season and their families. Because of this, here are a few helpful tips to help you get ready for the slimmer months.
When In Doubt, Reach Out
My old business coach Alicia always pushed me to make calls when the business was slow. I resisted calling the longest time, and I hate to say it, but she was right. It was the quickest way to generate immediate income. Sending out an email newsletter has a similar effect, but not as effective. (It’s much easier to ignore an email than a personal phone call.)
The truth is that everyone is busy. Clients sometimes just simply forgot you exist, or they have so many things going on that they forgot that they may need you a few weeks down the line. So when you take some time to call and say hello, it’s the perfect time to remind them your existence.
Even if they’ve got nothing for you, it’s still nice to chat, maintain relationship, ask for referrals and ask them out for coffee. At the end of the day, we like to do business with people we like. When you take them out for coffee, it’s also a great opportunity for you to make an appearance at his/her office and chat up with others who may need your services as well.
Plan for the Down Season Throughout the Year
They say that fortune favors the bold, but I think it also favors those who are prepared. If you know that your calendar will be particularly quiet during the winter season, then it’s a good idea to tuck away some contingency funds throughout the year to weather the winter. Especially for those who have employees. It’s not like you can tell the employees that they will only get paid when the business makes money. They still are expecting to be paid when the business is slow. So it’s important to start saving for those leaner months when you are working during the year.
You can also schedule projects out for the upcoming months if you can. Some of the top producers we work with already know that they will have projects in February, March, and April when the sales activities get much stronger. Some need long-term TLC like painting, constructions, etc. You can start getting involved in those projects and provide color consults, etc.
Book Other Creative Projects
During the down season, we did holiday decorating projects and visual merchandising for stores. Basically, any random freelance side gigs we could take to keep the revenues up during the winter kept ourselves busy and kept everyone paid.
If You Are Still Not Getting Booked
Not to worry, there are still plenty to do on the backend of your business even if you have absolutely no projects to work on. Don’t feel down. It’s not the end of the world. It’s the perfect time for you to get ready in the upcoming year.
You can work on your portfolio, update your website, write and schedule blogs and newsletters for the upcoming year, meet with your CPA and go through your financials, plan marketing campaigns, organize inventory, make labels for your office cabinet, whatever you didn’t have time to do during the busy time.
During down time, I do coffee with as many clients as possible. Go to office parties and try to meet potential new clients. I send out hand-written holiday cards and client gifts. I make marketing graphics and write blogs. The website also gets a bit of a face lift. This is the perfect time to update the website since most people will be with their families.
This is also a great time to take more courses to add onto your skills, whether it is creative or business, and get re-inspired about your work. I regularly take continuing education classes in both business and creative fields. I also take crafting or art classes, because not only I enjoy them, they also inspire me and help me stay creative.
Or, watch some films and shows that can inspire you! One of my guilty pleasures is The Great British Baking Show. It is SO inspiring to watch people being creative and so passionate about what they love to do.
So do what you gotta go, recharge, unwind and get yourself ready for next year. 💪