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Freelancers – How to keep yourself busy over these quiet times

Freelancers – How to keep yourself busy over these quiet times

5 months ago by Emma Head
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There’s no doubt that the world around is in an unprecedented state and, for freelancers, being self employed makes it an even more stressful time.  While we hope that this down time will be short lived, there are plenty of things that you can do to keep busy and ensure that, when work returns, you are best placed to hit the ground running. 

We have listed below a few ideas we’ve had that may be useful for you to do over the coming weeks: 

  • Update your CV – A good freelance CV is different to a perm CV, and we have an article about that here . Try and avoid overly designed CV’s; while you might have you own brand as a freelancer, avoid trying to put it all over your CV.  

  • Update your portfolio – If you are a creative freelancer, now is  great time to ensure that your portfolio of work, whether that is a PDF or a website, is up to date with all the work that you have been busy creating in the past 12 months.  We have a post here that gives some examples. One thing to remember is that if you have signed any NDA’s, ensure that the work you include in your portfolio is not affected by them.  Do get in touch with your clients to ask whether you can put the work in your portfolio if you are unsure.

  • Upskill on software - Whether that is learning more advanced skills, on some of the software you use daily, or learning new software that you have always wanted to learn, but never had the time – maybe you do now!  Self-development is one of the areas that you as a freelancer can and should focus on continuously.  This will keep you as competitive as possible when freelance bounces back.  It’s about increasing your offering where possible, to make sure that you can service clients who you weren’t able to before.  Consider things such as:  Basic code, playing around with After Effects, PPT, Lightroom, XD or Sketch.  Some of these are included in Adobe CC, so you may already have access to them.  Also, there are a few companies offering free 3-month trials of design software; take a look here for more details:

  • Free Adobe Creative Cloud for 3 months – The kind folks over at Adobe have paused the monthly subscription for 3 months, but still allowing you access.  All you need to do is call up their customer service helpline to ask them for the payment holiday, as it isn’t given automatically. 

  • Get your LinkedIn profile up to date - This is a great time to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is showcasing all that you are offering as a freelancer, and the experience that you have.  Make sure that you have a profile picture and if you have an online portfolio, that the link is added to your contact page so that potential new clients can review your work.  Start to share some of your work on LinkedIn and add hashtags so that people can find you.  Equally, follow hashtags such as #creative #design etc, so that relevant content will come up in your feed. Connect with fellow freelancers to see how they use LinkedIn, who they connect with, and how they are marketing themselves.

  • Let people find you on LinkedIn – As much as you are being proactive in putting yourself online and on social media, you also want potential clients and recruiters, like ourselves at Beyond The Book, to get in touch with you about potential work.  One way to do this is to change your status in your LinkedIn settings to ‘open to opportunities’.  This ensures that if a client or recruiter searches for your skill sets and location and this status, on a LinkedIn search (which they more than likely will), you will be pulled into a much smaller pool.  If you’ve ticked that box, you have a higher likelihood of someone contacting you about potential work.  

  • IR35 understanding– While the date has been deferred by 12 months, the IR35 Off-Payroll changes are still coming into effect and it is worthwhile to have a proper look at the legislation so
    that you know how it will affect you next year.  We have a great article here that succinctly explains how this will affect those freelancers who work though a PSC:

  • Link in with One Minute Briefs -  https://www.linkedin.com/company/one-minute-briefs/   or follow them on Twitter - https://twitter.com/OneMinuteBriefs and do an OMB every day to keep your creative juices flowing.  You may come out with some pieces worthy of putting in your portfolio as well as connecting with like-minded creatives. At the very least, it’s also good fun!

  • Engage with the creative community around you – If you are working from home, in isolation, it’s important to engage with the freelance/creative/marketing community online or via various different channels, such as Zoom, Slack, webinars and chat groups.  We are sociable beings and it’s not in our nature to isolate ourselves from other people. So, while we cannot go and socialise with people outside of our household, it could be the time to widen your network by taking part in different discussion groups - contribute and socialise via online channels.

  • Get your finances in order – While money isn’t coming in, it’s important to ensure that you get your finances in ship shape; send any remaining invoices out and chase up payments that are late.  But don’t be threatening - kindness wins more hearts!  Try and plan your finances where possible and consider areas where you might be able to get a temporary payment ‘holiday’, to get you through in the short term.

  • Your mind matters too – It’s important to keep positive and that probably means a combination of some form of exercise and ensuring that your mind is clear and calm. There are many apps out there that are free and will help you develop techniques with mindfulness or meditation.  Have a look at Headspace for a free trial: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

Lastly, remember to enjoy the downtime too, as we are all forced to slow down. It’s an opportunity to spend time at home with your family or pets, and to rest up, and make most of the time we have on our hands.  Get outside where possible and try not to get disheartened - this downturn will pass.

From our BTB family to yours, we hope you stay safe and keep in touch; we are all here to support each other!​

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