Get your workload and income back on track with these seven tips.
I’ve spent a majority of my professional life in the freelance trenches, save for a handful of long-term contract jobs and more recently, a stint as a caregiver at home. Each time I return to full-time freelancing, it takes a few weeks or months to get my workload and income back to where they were before I took a break.
If you find yourself in the same boat, here are my suggestions for getting your freelance business back on track as swiftly as possible:
Update your résumé, portfolio and online bios. You’ll be glad to have them handy when you need to quickly follow up on a client lead. Keep your messaging consistent among your resume, website and social media accounts. If you don’t have a website or online portfolio, you can easily make one using tools like Contently, Behance or Carbonmade.
Alert friends, colleagues and followers. Send out an email blast letting your extended network know you’re available for work, and the type of projects you seek. Use your social media accounts to do the same. Send a personalized message to contacts who’ve introduced you to clients or sent referrals your way in the past.
Reach out to former clients. If you enjoyed working with them, see if they’re up for getting the band back together. Since you already know each other’s processes and shorthands, the ramp-up time should be greatly reduced. (Some of you may remember me writing for The Seattle Times Jobs several years back, when it was NWjobs. Returning to this position was as simple as reconnecting with my former editor.)
Find the best online hubs for job leads. Every industry has them, whether they’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or elsewhere. I belong to a handful of Facebook groups for freelance writers that regularly feature appealing job leads. While rebuilding my business over the winter, I’d check them each morning for fresh listings.
Follow up on leads as soon as possible. Within a day is best, especially if a friend or colleague made the introduction. Carving out two or three windows a week to pursue hot leads can help you stay on top of them.
Pursue dream clients. Use the slow time while you’re replenishing your workload as an opportunity to redefine who you’d most like as clients. Make a list of the people or organizations that intrigue you, research them and see who in your network can offer intel or an introduction. Then give it your best shot.
Give it time. The sooner you start hustling for gigs, the sooner those payments will start rolling in. If possible, begin your freelance job hunt before you leave your present situation. It may take several weeks, months or longer to return to your former freelance glory. Prepare to spend some extra time marketing yourself and courting clients at first. Be patient. The seeds you plant today will sprout soon enough.