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.
When you live in New York City, it’s bound to happen eventually. Against your better judgement, you will decide that it’s absolutely necessary to attend a sample sale for one of your favorite brands.
Anyone who knows me can imagine that the sample sale environment is not my cup of tea. I don’t possess most of the characteristics required to be a good sample sale shopper: I’m anxiety prone, I like to take my time, and above all I’m incredibly indecisive. But when I saw that my all-time favorite lingerie brand, Hanky Panky, was having a sample sale at the Chelsea Market, I couldn’t resist. I figured, it’s just lingerie, how complicated or intimidating could it be?
A couple weeks before the sale, I saw a deal on Gilt City to pay $10 for one-hour of early access to the event. I was sold. In the fine print of the voucher, I noticed a note: bag and coat check will be required. I’m guessing this is a pretty standard practice to prevent theft at sample sales. I quickly decided I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I would bring only what I absolutely needed: my pocket-sized credit card case, my phone, and a reusable shopping bag that could easily fold up and clip to my belt loop. My first tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: avoid the bag and coat check, be a man, and use your pockets!
On the day of the sample sale, my Gilt City voucher allowed me to gain access at 11:00A, but I’d still resolved to arrive by at least 10:30A. My second tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: arrive at least half an hour before the doors open. I arrived around 10:20A and was number six in line. I was feeling both accomplished and incredibly nervous. Everything had perfectly fallen into place, but would I be able to hold my own once the doors opened?
Finally, it was 11:00A, the moment of truth. They checked my voucher, and I whizzed in, past the bag and coat check and line that was forming there. My plan had worked! I beelined for the bin of small v-kinis and literally started grabbing one in every color. I continued to the bin of extra-small boy shorts and the racks of small tanks and chemises with the same approach – grab one of everything. The employees were looking at me like I was crazy, offering me bags left and right to hold my loot. I, of course, had no intention of buying forty pairs of underwear or a dozen tanks, but I figured it was best to grab now and decide later. My third tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: if you see it and there’s a 1% chance you might want it, pick it up, and don’t put it down until you’re ready to make your purchases.
I survived my first lap without a hitch, but as I made my second round, things started to heat up. Every inch of the space was mobbed, and you had to shove your way in to each rack and bin. It was time to assess what I had, return what I didn’t want, and head to the checkout line. My fourth tip for successfully navigating a sample is to be sure to check the payment methods that are accepted – this particular sale accepted cash and credit card, but some may be cash only!
I left feeling excited and empowered – I’d successfully conquered my first sample sale with a total savings of $215 off retail! Despite the anxiety and insanity, it was totally worth it, and I’d absolutely be willing to brave another sample sale again. If you’re scoping out sample sales and planning to attend in the future, I’ve got one last piece of advice. My fifth and final tip for successfully navigating a sample sale is to note that you may not be able to try items on, as we were not at Hanky Panky.
New Year’s resolutions come with such a lofty weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreaming big and setting high expectations for yourself whether it be in your personal or professional life. However, starting the New Year with resolutions that are not attainable will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. Even worse, the wrong approach to resolutions may actually hinder you from accomplishing the real objectives you have for yourself and the next year of your life.
We’re now about halfway through January (wow!), how are your 2015 resolutions going so far?
Have you already strayed from the resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
It’s not too late to accomplish your ambitions! While a new year is a benchmark time to set new goals for yourself and your life, you can do this anytime. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh and new.
My 3 tips to attainable New Year’s resolutions are not rocket science or some be-all-end-all solution. In fact, they’re fairly simple. Perhaps they will make you think about your aspirations for 2015 a little differently, and maybe 2015 will be the year you re-think your resolutions and actually achieve them!
1. START WITH SMALL STRIDES
You’re not going to attain your resolutions immediately, all at once, or even with one attempt. Actually accomplishing your aspirations takes time, planning, and starting with small strides. State your goals – bring them out of your mind and into existence. Sometimes simply declaring or asking for what we want for ourselves or our lives can be the hardest step. If you’re a list-maker like me, write them down, or just say them out loud and discuss them with a friend, family member, or partner. Once you’ve established what you aim to achieve in 2015, identify the first step to attaining each resolution. Not all five, ten, twenty steps it may or may not take. Begin with just the first step. When you start with small strides, it makes your resolutions manageable and more realistic to attain. After you’ve completed that initial step, repeat this process for step two and three and so on.
2. DO EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
“Do everything in moderation” is a method my mom aims to employ in every facet of her life. It’s a method she has instilled in me. When you actually approach all aspects of your life with this motto, it can truly make you a more well-rounded, fulfilled, and healthy person. There is too much of a good thing (and a bad thing at that). This year, instead of attempting to make drastic or extreme modifications to your life, try to do everything in moderation. Instead of proclaiming you’re going to – go to the gym seven days a week… cut all carbs from your diet… write a blog post every day… stop watching TV – make your resolutions more attainable with moderation: I’m going to go to the gym one more day each week… cut carbs from my diet on Wednesdays… write a blog post every other day… stop watching TV on Sundays. Yes, this may require you to reassess the goals you established in step one. Who said you couldn’t modify your resolutions? They’re not set in stone and can evolve as you do. The idea of doing everything in moderation really goes hand in hand with taking small strides. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re the tortoise not the hare. You have 365 days to slowly, steadily, methodically attain your resolutions.
3. REFLECT ON YOUR PROGRESS
I already talked a bit about reflection in my last post of 2014. I believe when used in a positive and productive manner, reflection is a key part of success. As we move forward and as we begin to attain our resolutions, we often lose sight of where we started and how far we’ve really come. We start focusing on what’s next and wanting more. This is why it’s important to stop and acknowledge the small successes, the steps that got you there, the progress made before the ultimate goal is achieved. It goes back to step one – small strides. While it would be ideal to accomplish every resolution you set forth for 2015, you might not. Even if you don’t attain a resolution in its entirety, it’s worth celebrating the progress you made toward that goal.
MY 2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
I wanted to share a few of my aspirations for 2015 and how I aim to apply these 3 tips to make attainable resolutions to my own goals for the New Year.
1. Write at least one poem each month.
Most of you know me as a writer and blogger, but I’m also a poet. Poetry has been a more abstract way for me to express myself since my teens. Up until 2014, I used to write roughly 20-40 poems each year. When I began my career as a freelance writer and blogger, my poetry fell further and further behind my other writing obligations. In September, I completely lost this integral part of my life. So, in 2015 I want to return to my poetry by starting with one poem this month and each month after.
UPDATE: I’ve got the bare bones of two poems with the working title “The Girl With No Face” inspired by two girls who sat next to me on the subway.
2. Spend time with a girlfriend at least once each month.
Graduating college was a huge turning point for me and my girlfriends. I moved to Wisconsin and my best girls moved to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, and Georgia. While I connected with some amazing fellow bloggers in Wisconsin, I can honestly say I did not make a close girlfriend in the three years I lived there. Most of the time this didn’t bother me. I never really considered myself a girl’s girl. I’ve always had a very small circle of girlfriends and a great number of guy friends. However, three years without girl’s nights, friendly closet raids, and good old fashion chats over coffee gave me an amazing appreciation for my girlfriends. In the New Year, I not only hope to make a new girlfriend in my new city, New York, but also enhance the time I spend with my girlfriends around the country.
UPDATE: I’ve got plans with not one, not two, but FIVE girlfriends in the next couple weeks! Maybe I need to reassess this goal and up the ante!
3. Read at least four books in their entirety.
It’s sad to say that I maybe read two books cover to cover in 2014. I’m also ashamed to admit I’m one of those who has a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it. Reading is an integral part of being a writer, and if I’m being completely honest with myself (and you), I don’t read nearly enough. This month I’ll be picking up my first book of 2015 and aim to be finishing it and starting my second by March.
UPDATE: I’m two-thirds of the way through an amazing book that has been on my shelf for years – The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I intend to write reviews for the books I read in 2015, but for this particular publication I’m developing a series for the blog!
4. Take at least one dance class each month.
Dance was a major part of my life and identity from age three to twenty-three. When I graduated from college, I replaced dance with Pilates and yoga. While I love these practices, they are not and will never be dance. Yes, it is difficult to find adult dance classes, but now that I live in New York City, I no longer have an excuse. Booking a class in January will be step one!
UPDATE: I’m fortunate to have received a gift certificate to a local dance studio from two of my friends as a birthday present – step one is done!
5. Buy and learn to operate a serious camera.
Photography – both photographing and being photographed – are two of my biggest struggles as a blogger. I’ve avoided photography whenever possible in my first year of blogging and relied on my talented photographer friends when photography was unavoidable. In 2015 I want to face my fear of photography head-on by vowing to purchase my first camera and learn how to use it. Buying a camera is a big investment in time and money, so I know that attaining this resolution will require some discipline on my part (namely curbing my shopping habit). However, I know the long term benefits it will have for me and my blog and believe I’m up for this challenge in the New Year!
UPDATE: So far, January has been a very successful month for my freelance writing and styling business. After spending a lot on the move to NYC and the holidays, it feels amazing to be back in a place of prosperity! I’m developing an attainable system to set aside a certain percentage of my income to put toward a camera.
For the past three days we’ve all been basking in the glory of the first festivities of the summer. The Memorial Day holiday kicks off the first of many extended summer weekends, vacations, and holiday get-togethers to come over the coming summer months. It was a fantastic three-day weekend, but… we’re feeling out of shape from overindulging… we’re feeling exhausted from overextending ourselves… we’re feeling pain from overexposure to the sun. Gearing up and getting back to the grind after a holiday weekend can be difficult. Don’t let summer adventures dull your productivity! Check out my 3 cures for a post-holiday hangover.
Cleanse Your Palate
Summer festivities always seem to consist of salty food and an abundance of alcohol. These refreshments in combination with the summer heat leave us deeply dehydrated and feeling bloated and lethargic. Before you head to hot yoga or out for a run to detox from overindulging, cleanse your palate by replenishing nutrients and hydrating. Smoothies are a social butterfly’s best friend in the summer months. There are endless seasonal ingredient options for smoothies in the summer, so it’s easy to have the necessary ingredients on hand. Smoothies are super refreshing and satisfying – they’re a surefire way to energize yourself after an extended summer holiday! New to smoothie-making and need some help pairing ingredients perfectly? Follow MyBOD Wellness on Facebook and Twitter for weekly recipe inspiration!
Master the Summer Up-do
When you’re heading back to work after a holiday, you’re likely feeling exhausted from travel and endless activities, parties, and events. You don’t particularly FEEL GOOD, so the last thing you care about is trying to LOOK GOOD. By now you probably know my theory that feeling good and looking good have a cyclical relationship. So, if you’re able to put in a little effort to LOOK GOOD before you head back to work, you will FEEL GOOD and hopefully be more productive post-holiday. The key to looking good when feeling lazy is mastering the summer up-do. There are endless summer hair tutorials out there, many of which seem complicated and unattainable without the help of a celebrity stylist. However, I found two with realistic options for the everygirl: Easy Summer Hairstyles by Self Magazine and Fresh DIY Ponytails by Refinery 29.
Sooth the Sunburn
I was fortunate enough to get a base tan on my Mexico getaway back in April. However, I’m a pale girl with Irish blood, so for those of you who stepped into the sun for the first time this season over Memorial Day, I feel your pain, literally. If you’re fair skinned like me, you know that no amount of sunscreen can truly prevent you from getting burned during the summer when we spend significantly more time outdoors. My northern girls also have particularly sensitive skin come summer after being bundled up in a parka for the past six months. It is essential that you have some remedies to sooth the sunburn on hand. Refinery 29 to the rescue again! Just in time for Memorial Day, R29 Beauty Director Megan McIntyre shared four Homemade Cures for Burnt-to-a-Crisp Skin.
Longer days, warmer temperatures, nature in bloom… Spring is in the air. It’s about that time to rotate your wardrobe, box up those winter items, shift them to the back of the closet, and bring forth the sundresses and shorts. It’s the perfect opportunity to do a little spring cleaning in your closet.
I know that the mere thought of tackling your closet can be overwhelming. The closet, by nature, might not be the most organized place, might be overflowing because your shopping habit is bigger than your rent, and might just seem downright daunting. There’s a reason the closet has a door! It’s an easy space to close off to the mind after you ransack it each morning before work or each weekend before heading out for a night on the town. I promise, if you just carve out a Saturday afternoon and open that door, you’ll find that Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition isn’t so bad (it might even be fun!). If you need a little help getting started and creating a plan of attack, I’ve got 5 tips on how to clean out your closet that might just help!
1. Cultivate Positive Energy
Although the process may be a bit of a pain, the outcome of cleaning out your closet should be rewarding. Remind yourself of the good old phrase, out with the old, in with the new. I’m not saying that you should plan a massive shopping binge after your closet clean out, but the purpose of a seasonal closet cleaning is to make room for the new items your inevitably going to add when a new season rolls around. Another good incentive to clean out your closet is the option to sell or consign your clothes. I spent years being a severe clothes and accessories hoarder. My garments are and always will be an extension of myself, and for years the thought of parting with a single item felt like I’d be chopping off a limb. In college, I finally took the plunge. I went through years and years of clothing and memories. I reminisced and might have even snapped some farewell pics. Then, I loaded up my car and headed to the local consignment store in my college town. After a short 45-day period, I got a major check, and since then, I’ve continued to make some big bucks consigning. The key is finding the right consignment store with the right policies. For a great example of one, check out the consignment store I still continue to use in Athens, GA – Suska is the best!
2. Make a Game Plan
The task of spring cleaning your closet will be a lot less daunting if you make a game plan. First, think about your current lifestyle. Notice I say lifestyle not just style. Your life is a major influence on your style. You may not love sheaths and pencil skirts, but if you work in a corporate environment, these items make up a major part of your wardrobe. Second, get a second opinion. This is particularly important if you’re a first-time closet cleaner. You need a second set of eyes – okay what you really need is someone objective who is not as emotionally attached to your closet as you are. So talk to your roommate, your bff, your sister, or your most fashion forward gay friend, and ask if he/she would be willing to come over next Saturday and talk you off a ledge, should you need to be. A closet cleaning companion will help lighten the mood and keep things fun. Come on! Didn’t you always want to reenact What Not to Wear? You may be on the end where your precious clothing memories are being discarded into a trashcan, but still, now’s your chance!
3. The Big Day: Start Cleaning!
The day is here. Your closet cleaning companion is on the way. Breathe in and out. Put on some upbeat music – something you’d want to strut the catwalk to – light some candles, pour a couple cocktails or drink of choice, be sure there’s good lighting and a full length mirror, and once your consultant arrives, you’re ready to begin! Remember, you’re taking it one season at a time. Should you decide to donate, sell, or consign, only in-season items will be accepted. There! We just eliminated half your closet. We’ll get to the other half in the fall. As you and your consultant go through your closet item by item, there will be pieces you know with 100% certainty you want to keep. For everything else – anything slightly in question, anything rarely worn in the past two years – try it on, and use the following 5 questions to evaluate it:
– Does it have set-in stains?
– Is it damaged/worn?
– Does it fit you?
– Does it fit your current lifestyle?
– Would you still buy it today?
The sixth and final question is the most difficult. You answered NO to stains and damage, you answered YES to fitting you and your current lifestyle, and YES, you would still buy it today. But here’s the kicker: do you actually wear it? This is the toughest and most important question. We all hold on to things in our closet. There’s nothing wrong with them, they fit and look great, but for some reason, we just don’t wear them. These are the items you have to let go, and these are the items that will likely be best to sell or consign. Someone else will not only love them but also wear them.
“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” – Marc Jacobs
4. In the Midst of the Mess: You’re Almost There!
I’m going to tell you now, when cleaning out your closet, things will get worse before they get better. About halfway through the process, you and your closet consultant may exit the emotional clothing roller coaster and break for a snack. It’s then you’ll realize you can barely walk across the room because there’s an explosion of clothing and accessories everywhere. There’s a donate pile, a consign pile, a back in the closet pile, a wtf pile, and your consultant has started making a pile for herself. The good news is, this means you’re making progress! While you take a moment to step away from the chaos, consider making a shopping list of voids you’ve noticed in your wardrobe. This will be a good reminder of why you entered this process in the first place: to make room for the new!
5. Final Touches
You’ve gone item by item through your warm weather wardrobe. It’s no small task, but I knew you could do it! Now, it’s time to put what’s staying back in the closet and transport what’s ready to donate or sell. You’ve already put so much time and energy into this endeavor. Don’t just toss everything back in the closet and close that door! Take this time to do a little re-organization. Invest in some closet-organizing accessories from stores like Target, The Container Store, or Ikea, and implement the basic closet organization technique: either by color or by garment type. Next, bag up the donations and gather the items to sell or consign. For the latter items, you’ll need to check the store’s policy if you plan to consign. For example, some consignment stores want items on hangers. If you plan to sell through another outlet like eBay or Bib + Tuck, do your research and take measures to protect yourself as a seller!