It happens to even the best of freelancers. A slump. You can be going strong, super booked, and then all of a sudden you look at your list of current work, and you realize it’s coming to an end.
So what do you do about it? Well if you are smart with your money (and keep a percentage saved away for a possible low month) and you can spend some time focusing on your marketing and biz growth. But, if you need to get some cash in your pocket fast, here are some great ways to do so.
Just starting out? These tips apply to getting your biz off the ground as well!
So let’s get to it!
1. Reach out to friends & family
Sure, you think they all know what you do and would refer people to you if they had the opportunity. But the reality is, they might not be thinking of you as often as you may hope.
Your friends have a lot of friends and your family do too.
Send out a personal email to all of them giving them a quick update about the services you provide, tell them some time has opened up in your schedule and you’d really appreciate if they could spread the word about you.
Ask them to put the word out on social media, forward your website to any connections they have that might need you, and/or send you some names of people they know that might be interested so you can reach out to them yourself.
2. Contact all your past clients
How long has it been since you followed up with past clients? Probably longer than you wish to admit. I struggle with this too.
Not only is it likely time to just say hi, but it is a great opportunity to see if they need anything else from you. Not only that, but if they were happy with your work (and especially if they gave you a testimonial to prove it!), they will likely be happy to spread the word for you.
Tell them how much you liked working with a person like them, and can imagine anyone they’re connected with to be an ideal client as well. Ask them straight up if they know anyone that could use their services and just like with family and friends, ask them to spread the word.
3. Do a very limited-time discount offer (or even better, deal)
Discounts can work well to get out of a slump, but in my opinion you want to do them sparingly and only in really slumpy situations. Why? Because you want people to perceive your services as valuable, and discounted services have a lower perceived value. Plus, if you do it often, you risk attracting the coupon-clipping clients that are usually not the best ones. Or worse, people see that you often do discounts and will wait around to hire you until you discount.
BUT- when you’re in a slump, you’re in a slump. And giving a discount can be a good incentive for clients to help you get through it.
The better option however is a “deal”. What could you add-on or package together temporarily to give your potential clients a special deal by hiring you now? What would make your package just a little bit better?
Think about your current packages, and what little extras you could throw into the mix. Put up a limited-time only offer where they get the regular package PLUS x, for no extra cost.
Keep it simple though. Remember how valuable your time is, and don’t go crazy with the extras. Great add-ons are things that are relatively easy for you to do (not a ton of hours of work), but your potential client cannot do on their own and would therefore be super valuable for them.
4. Offer a referral bonus to close connections
Just like digital products have affiliate programs, you can take advantage of the same concept for your services. I haven’t actually done this myself but have seen others do it.
What would incentivize your close connections to help you out a bit more with referring to you? Maybe a future discount on your services if you provide something they may need. Maybe a straight-up commission for any work they bring your way. In the classic sales industry this is common, and there is no reason it couldn’t work for you in order to get out of a slump.
5. Offer a new, very niche service
In the hours of hanging around in various entrepreneur groups, I often see common little problems come up. For example, I notice a ton of people asking how to make their testimonials look pretty on a website. Why not have a Pretty Testimonials package to get some new clients in the door?
Personally, I prefer to focus on larger projects and so I tend to refer clients who need small tasks done, to colleagues who I know like to take on hourly small tasks. So even though I see this common issue that I could probably sell a lot of, I don’t want to put that as a permanent service on my site. BUT, if I have a slump, what a great way to quickly bring in some cash!
I did a whole series on the blog, in real-time as I helped my Frenchy make some quick income from a new niche service, definitely check it out.
What are some common small niche problems you see people have? Can you offer a limited-time only special on just that?
If you’re a web designer, DIY people ALWAYS need help making their optin forms look better than the standard Mailchimp form. Why not have a quick “Pretty Up Your Optin Form” offer?
If you’re a copywriter, people always struggle with naming things or their bio. Can you add a limited-time only bio-writing special?
The smaller and more niche the better. Make it a quick and easy impluse purchase that will solve a very particular problem. Might not be the most profitable, but it will certainly help get you out of a slump!
Bonus Strategy: Raise your prices
I know it sounds crazy, but most freelancers are under pricing themselves. Trying to keep your prices lower than your competitors, thinking that is what will make the difference between someone hiring you or clicking away is actually very wrong. People don’t want to hire cheap, they want value. And when the see your low prices they will likely think something is wrong.
So raising your prices does three things (one of which is great for getting out of a slump):
- It gives you a higher perceived value
- It brings you higher quality clients
- It gives you the opportunity to do a special “I’m-raising-my-prices-book-now-to-lock-in-my-lower-rate” deal.
I did this before my last price raise, to great success. I emailed my list and all past “maybe” leads telling them that my prices were going up on X date and if they wanted to get in on my lower prices, they had to book before X date. I also let them know that even if they weren’t ready right then to start working, as long as they book, they’d get that deal. I booked 5 clients like this. 5 clients I likely wouldn’t have had if I didn’t raise my prices. (and if you’re wondering, yes, I’ve booked clients at my higher prices since then, so there was no reason to be worried those 5 would be my last) 🙂