For the past three months I’ve been struggling — like really struggling. My business has been going through a scarcity period and I’ve only had 1-2 clients. I was barely able to pay my bills.
It’s been an extremely stressful and trying time for me. This isn’t like anything I’ve experienced before and up until a few weeks ago I thought I might quit my business altogether.
If you’re in the same place and struggling with a business slump, I’m here to help. Firstly, you’re not alone and this is something that everyone faces — even experienced freelancers like myself.
Second, I’m sharing 9 of the exact things I’ve done in the past several months as a way to still turn a profit even when business is scarce. I hope it helps!
1. Use your time as currency
At the beginning of 2017 my Word of the Year was “abundance”. However, I quickly learned that word meant something totally different than I originally thought. Initially, the word “abundance” meant an abundance of wealth or money, but in fact, you can have an abundance of anything.
It can mean a host of things:
- And more…
When business is scarce you have to start thinking about your time as an alternative wealth resource. Don’t limit yourself to only spending money as a means to get what you want. It’s time to get creative! Use your time as currency instead of money.
2. Switch up your marketing strategy
When you get into a work rut you the best way to get out of it is to change up your strategy. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. This means marketing your services and your site in different ways.
In the past I’ve solely focused on Instagram and Twitter as a means of promoting myself. Why? Mostly because I just like using those platforms personally. But when I examined where most of my social media traffic comes from, the top two platforms were Facebook and Pinterest. (This is evident on my site’s social share button numbers.)
Basically this means that for the past several years I’ve been spending my time publishing on social media sites that weren’t converting. After learning that most of the freelancers and startups that I work with are on Facebook and Pinterest, those are the two main sites I focus on now.
3. Dig out those old projects
Even for someone who specializes in financial organization and business systems, there are many projects I’ve fallen behind on. As a freelance business blogger I’m also supposed to implement basic website upgrades, such as social share buttons or having an email sign-up box. I’m ashamed to say that up until a few months ago I neglected both of these things.
What projects are on the back burner for you? Is there “low hanging fruit” that you could easily benefit from just doing a few simple things? It’s time to dig out those old projects and get to work on increasing your revenue.
4. Optimize your “Hire Me” page
If you don’t have a Services page on your website, you are seriously missing out on one of the best ways to attract more clients. What types of keywords do clients use to find out about your services? How well do you rank for those keywords in search results?
I talk about this in more depth in my personal SEO case study blog post.
During my business down time I decided to rank for the phrase “freelance business blogger” instead of “freelance business writer”. Both of these keywords rank very well but I wanted to work with a specific kind of client and changing just one word had a big impact.
Take a look at your own Services page and look for ways to optimize or refresh it.
5. Offer new services or packages
Since my Hire Me page has already been converting, one thing I did to change things up was to separate my services into multiple offerings. Instead of having different pages related to freelance coaching, writing/blogging and editing, it’s now all neatly organized on one page with links out to more detailed pages.
This gives potential clients a chance to choose the best service packages that you offer, therefore increasing the amount of work I take on.
I recommend only have 2-3 services so you don’t overwhelm potential clients with too many offerings. Then present them in an easily digestible format so they can hire you for the right service.
6. Refresh old blog content or pages
Another smart project to tackle when business clients are scarce is to refresh your website. This can mean updating old blog posts by adding more content, refreshing your About page, or even doing an entire site design update.
As you may have noticed, in the first quarter of 2017 I refreshed the layout and design of Careful Cents. I made sure my message was clear and that my services and offerings were easy to find.
And you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your blog’s design by hiring a web designer. My site uses the Make theme from Theme Foundry and it’s completely free to use. The customizer is easy to understand and takes little-to-no coding.
I even helped my personal chef husband put together his website, chefchubs.com, using the same Make theme. He’s since started getting more leads and work through his simple site, so you really don’t have to invest a lot of money.
7. Take a course or get certified
Have you purchased some courses that you haven’t completed? Have you been meaning to take a class or get certified in a particular skill? Take advantage of your slow client workload and start learning some new skills.
Perhaps there are some classes you can take to bulk up your resume. Or maybe you let your certifications expire and they need to be renewed. Don’t procrastinate on this any longer!
It’s the small things that can set you apart from the thousands of other self-employed freelancers out there. Seriously, I’ve proven it!
Ready to take a course to help improve your skills? Check out my Convert More Clients course!
8. Revamp your business systems
Obviously business is scarce right now because there are some systems and processes that aren’t working. Pinpoint which ones are out of date or need to be overhauled. Now’s the perfect time to revamp everything and perform an audit of your business.
Start with your business spending. Review all of your monthly expenses, subscriptions and statements. Do you use all of the services you’re paying for? During 2016 I did an extreme audit of my business spending and reduced it by nearly half.
That’s a savings of nearly $12,000 in just one year!
Other processes to review include your email inbox, putting your bills on auto-pay, setting aside money for taxes and automating your client finding-process. Review your daily tasks and see which ones are sucking up the most time. How can you streamline this process so it’s more efficient?
Need more ideas to revamp your business systems? Check out this post that details 10 ways to automate your freelance business this week.
9. Leverage multiple income streams
Having extra time on your hands can actually be a good thing! It’s the perfect time to work on increasing your income streams. Again, this is something I personally have been working on as a way to still earn money even when client work drops off for a season.
You probably already have some multiple income streams in mind, but I detailed 8 different ways I earn money. Some of them include:
- Earn more with freelance writing
- Get dividends from small investments
- Become an affiliate partner
- Sell courses and other products
- Offer coaching services
- Work as a brand ambassador
These are just a few things I’ve done to build up my income streams so I’m not relying on one type of way to earn a living. Being a freelancer is often a volatile profession and it could literally be months before you see your next paycheck.
Take time to put these systems in place now — you’ll be glad you did the next time you have a low income month.
How to book more clients
I’ve been where you are and scarcity within any freelance business is freaking scary. But don’t get discouraged. There are things you can do to take action today that will help turn your situation around.
It took 3 FULL months of doing everything on this list before I started getting a steady stream of client work coming in again. Hopefully it takes you less time than it did me.
What are some other things to do when you have no freelance clients? How do you over a business slump?