Around this time of year many contractors and freelancers will see a lull in their incoming work; especially those that work within academic circles or the public sector where things tend to grind to a halt for six weeks. Emails go unanswered, the phone stops ringing. Finding yourself in a summer slow down can be intimidating, with all that new free time on your hands it’s easy for self-doubt to creep in. What if a new contract never appears? Have I made a mistake? Time to return to the 9-5 grind?
Chances are any time you spend on the bench will only last a few short weeks. All that negative thinking is wasted energy, focus instead on all the things you could be doing with the time on your hands. A summer lull is the perfect time to work on refocusing and building up both you and your company.
Here’s how you can continue to thrive during your summer downtime.
1. Re-engage with your goals
Keep positive. It’s a clichéd piece of advice, right? But, shifting your focus may bring some clarity. Focusing on your long-term goals, rather than short-term risks, could be the best thing to keep you motivated and moving forward.
More likely than not, you chose to become a freelancer or a contractor for a reason. Maybe it was to escape the office rat race, to engage with more interesting and diverse contracts or to ensure your work would fit around you, your lifestyle and your interests. Perhaps you have a long-term goal in mind? Such as, an early retirement plan, saving to support a new business venture or simply gaining more time to indulge a passion.
A summer lull is a great time to reconnect with your long term goals; it’s easy to lose sight of them when you’ve been working your way through contract after contract. This will help to keep your focused and driven in your down periods. Ensuring your goals are at the front of your mind will help you to avoid the pit trap of accepting any and every contract to escape a lull; no matter how ill-suited to your skills and aims.
2. Go on holiday; everyone else is
Sitting at your computer endlessly searching for new contract leads, sending email after email, speed-dialling your agent – it’s a soul crushing experience. Be sure to limit your time on these activities to a few hours a day. Give yourself permission to enjoy the rare break you’ve been given.
You can use the time to work on any personal projects you’ve been putting off. Get the chores done, visit friends and family, exercise. Revitalise and reignite your creativity with a holiday, the joy of freelancing and contracting is the ability to pick up and go whenever it suits you. Most importantly get yourself out and about and refuse to let cabin fever sink in – sitting in one room day in and out is enough to kill anyone’s productivity.
Taking the time to enjoy your time off will see you being more productive once the summer lull comes to an end.
3. Stop chasing, start attracting
The gig economy is continually evolving with technology. More and more contractors are working remotely in newly developed areas. Finding new clients has also changed with the times. Instead of sending endless cold emails, use some of your time to focus on attracting clients to you.
Ensuring you have a visible internet presence is an excellent way to start. Make sure you have a website and a LinkedIn profile that shows you at your very best. If applicable, update your portfolio and build and broadcast your side projects.
Keep yourself updated on the current trends and get involved in any ongoing communications in your field. Building your brand and online presence is an investment in advertising, showcasing you and your skills to potential clients.
4. Check in with your contacts
Spend some time with others who work in your field. Whether your contacts are permanent employees or fellow contractors/freelancers – spending time with your professional contacts is a great way to keep yourself up to date on any news in your sector.
We all have dips in enthusiasm for our chosen sectors on occasion, especially when we find ourselves out of contract. Meeting up with other people in your field is a great way to refuel your interest and come up with creative solutions to shared problems.
Your professional contacts may well know of upcoming work suitable for you. Speaking with them, offering to help pick up any overflow or even collaborating on a project will strengthen your relations and keep you busy. It will also allow you to see how your colleagues work and potentially grant you access to projects you wouldn’t typically be involved with.
5. Earn on the side
Look out for side earning jobs that you can pick up. These jobs can keep you ticking over while you’re between contracts and support your side projects or any new business ventures. This doesn’t necessarily mean selling your well-crafted skills to the lowest bidder, however.
Why not find ways to contribute your skills back to the community? Could you be giving talks on your specialities, helping out a local small business or charity? Have you ever thought about blogging or vlogging? Dreamt of writing a novel, teaching your skills to others, renovating a classic car, building an app or developing property? This moment of downtime could be the perfect opportunity to get started. Should your side earning relate back to your day job, all the better; this will only help to promote you to new clients.
Make the most of your summer
A summer lull is a perfect time to reconnect with your contacts, learn about any new developments and exciting changes in your sector and reinvigorate your passions outside of work. Being able to get away and enjoy the things that matter to you is why many freelancers and contractors chose their line of work – so be sure to enjoy a revitalising break; mull over your long-term plans, improve your skills and come back raring to go when it all kicks off again in September.
With inniAccounts, if you take a short break in trading activities, you can lower your payments with a trading break. During this period, we’ll significantly lower our fees, and we will continue to support you. Take a look at how we can support you and your company this summer.