Ebb and flow is a natural part of freelancing. If you’re like me, you have a few steady, ongoing clients, and the rest of the work is project-based. It often seems that you’ll start a few one-off projects around the same time. You’ll complete them in a few weeks or months and realize you’ve been so busy working that you’ve failed to pitch or apply to new clients. For a week (or two or three), you’ll coast along with your long-term clients in one of those inevitable ebbs.
Having freelanced full-time for over two years, I’m no stranger to the ebbs. In my earlier freelancing days, my initial reaction was to panic, desperately start pitching and applying to any opportunity I could find, and beat myself up for my lack of forethought. It took me a (very) long time to use the inevitable ebbs effectively and allow myself to actually take advantage of the downtime.
Next time you’re in between freelance projects, remember that it’s the nature of the industry. Don’t panic! Set aside time each day to continue your ongoing work and pitch and apply to those clients and projects (and only those clients and projects) that align with your brand and expertise. During your next lull, don’t forget to take time to focus your business and yourself. Below are 20 things to work on when work is slow:
10 Ways to Work on Your Business
- Make updates to your portfolio or website
- Catch up on writing case studies for past and current clients
- Gather testimonials from past and current clients
- Make sure your contract and policies are up to date
- Implement something new, like a newsletter, blog, or social channel
- Check in with your long-term clients
- Amp up your social media presence
- Develop a new offering, product, or service
- Brainstorm how to grow your existing clients
- Revisit your business plan and long-term goals
10 Ways to Work on Yourself (and Your Creativity)
- Spend more time outside
- Try something new – learn a new hobby or skill
- Amp up your workout routine
- Read a book
- Spend time with others – try a breakfast, lunch, or coffee date
- Explore your city like a tourist
- Travel to another city
- Do something spontaneous
- Cook dinner, bake something, or try a new recipe
- Get back to you and do what you love
Many of us chose to freelance full-time, yet we forget to embrace that flexibility and power to shape our own schedules. We look at our roommates, partners, or friends, and we tell ourselves we should be working nine to five, Monday through Friday. We must remember why we’ve taken the road less traveled in our careers: for the opportunity to pave our own way and build unconventional businesses.
As I stepped off the escalator and headed toward the stairs leading down to the subway, I could see the uptown train waiting. I started sprinting, as every good New Yorker does, but as I reached the platform, I could see the train doors were closed. Damn, I thought, just missed it.
I stood there, expecting the train to depart any second, but it didn’t. It sat, doors closed, for another couple minutes before it finally took off. I sighed and rolled my eyes in frustration, and I noticed another woman on the platform who had experienced the same misfortune. We both glanced around the station and quickly caught each other’s gaze. It’s the worst when that happens, I said, and we struck up a conversation.
At first, we commiserated over the occasional annoyances, like this one, that come with relying on public transportation. Another train arrived, and we sat, continuing to chat about the usual things. As the conversation inevitably shifted to work, we began to click. Before we parted ways at the station where we both needed to transfer, we exchanged business cards. This woman is now one of my clients.
Why should you always dress to impress? Because you never know who you’re going to meet. As artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and the like, we often live in our loungewear and activewear. Full disclosure: there are days when I work in my pajamas and only throw a coat on to run to the bodega up the block. Living in New York City (where the streets are filled with people bringing their fashion a-game) has inspired me to put a little more effort into my appearance before I leave the apartment. Fortunately, on the day of my subway debacle, I happened to have done my hair, thrown on some makeup, and put on “real clothes.”
When you work from your home office a majority of the time, it makes sense to only dress for video calls or in-person meetings. Most of the time, the first contact we have with our potential clients is on the web. They see the styled and polished images depicted in our bios and on our contact pages, not the girl in the yoga pants and oversized sweater on the other side of the screen. In our self-employed lives, we can’t forget to maintain a certain level of professionalism outside of our online presence. You never know if your next client may be behind you in line at Starbucks.
What you wear says something about you and your brand. Not the designers or trends you sport but how you present yourself. Just like the story you use to introduce yourself, clothing is a medium you can use to portray something about your business. Is your brand bold and colorful or sleek and minimal? Look at your company’s aesthetic, imagine how it could be translated into an outfit, and take it into consideration next time you’re running errands around town or walking your dog in the park. If you need a little guidance translating your brand’s image into your personal style, connect with me. In addition to writing, I happen to do a bit of styling on the side!
Remember that girl from class whose style you adored? At times she was a bit eccentric, but she wore everything with confidence. Something about the way she dressed just worked, and you couldn’t go a day without noticing her ensemble. For Katelyn Kosinski, that girl was Willa, a classmate from her college days. Little did Katelyn know that a few short years later “Willa” would become the inspiration behind the name of her business, Woodbury Lane.
“When I searched the name ‘Willa’ and ‘Willa Boutique,’ I found it was already taken. So, I played around with ‘Willow” and ‘Willow Lane’ for a while. Realizing that I was hooked on the W and L being together, I landed on the name of my childhood street, Wood Berry Lane, but changed it to make just two words:” Woodbury Lane.
Willa was just the first bold, fashion forward female who inspired Katelyn to create Woodbury Lane.
“Truly my greatest influence has been the entire movement of women who are doing their own thing right now. There’s this revolution of girls who are insanely confident and driven, yet totally realistic in their goals… Gone are the days where women can only work for the man.”
Long before Katelyn took her first step toward launching Woodbury Lane, she had a clear vision of what drew her to a particular sense of style. The fashion was just one component. The confidence with which a woman wears the fashion and the pride a woman takes in her fashion are the foundation of Woodbury Lane’s aesthetic.
“[Woodbury Lane] speaks to the woman who takes pride in her wardrobe. Women who are not looking for ‘disposable clothing pieces,’ which are all too easy to come by nowadays. ‘Disposable clothing pieces’ are the ones that are incredibly trendy and poorly made. Woodbury Lane is the opposite – our clothes are of a great quality, and they’ll last for more than one season. Most of what we offer are classic basics and subtle trends that don’t necessarily scream ‘2015.’”
Katelyn gave a taste of what Woodbury Lane had to offer with a pop-up gift shop last holiday season, but the boutique officially opened its cyber doors last month with its first spring collection. The current inventory is stocked with a full line of clothing and accessories as well as select home and gift items. While each and every piece has its own unique appeal, Katelyn was quick to share a couple of her favorites.
“The Cream Tapered Pants are amazing because they could truly be worn all year long. They’re lightweight enough to wear throughout the summer, but they also look killer in winter thanks to the ‘winter neutrals’ and ‘winter whites’ trends that are happening right now. I’m also pretty obsessed (a word I try not to use often) with our Floral Drape Top. It’s just the most flattering piece, and the colors are spot on for spring and summer. It’s also really versatile because it’s slightly cropped, which would look awesome paired with a high-waisted skirt. However, it’s not so cropped that you’d be showing belly, so it still pairs well with denim too!”
Katelyn has been a successful blogger for almost two years, but Woodbury Lane is her first small business endeavor. Throughout the entrepreneurial process, she has realized the importance of taking the time to celebrate each and every achievement.
“As a small business owner, I’ve quickly learned that every endeavor, no matter the size, is exciting! My first sale, a new shipment of merchandise, or even a really nice compliment on the shop feels like a huge accomplishment!”
So, what’s next for Woodbury Lane? If you’re in the Milwaukee area, don’t miss the exclusive launch party on March 22. For the first time, you’ll be able to see, touch, and try on the items from Woodbury Lane’s first spring collection. Be sure to arrive early! Woodbury Lane has partnered with a number of other local creatives to compile swag bags for the first 30 purchasers. Don’t live in the Milwaukee area? Shop Woodbury Lane online 24/7, and follow along with the boutique’s latest collections, events, and special offers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happy shopping!
Photographed by Laurelyn Savannah Photography