High outside temperatures, low turnover. Many freelancers are familiar with the problem of the order stagnation in summer. Who has not provided for a predictable basic income and sufficient reserves can get into serious financial problems in these months. In my first years as a freelancer, I did everything I could to earn a good income even during the summer months when sales were weak. But it makes little sense to push projects while the clients are on vacation. It is much more efficient to let the energy flow into your own developments. In this article I would like to share my to-do list for summer months with you.
1. Cleaning up
One of the best ways to clear your head is to dispose of records, documents and files that have accumulated during stressful project phases and are no longer in use.
During the project phases I rarely find the time to do so. In particular I do the following things:
- Tidy desk and cupboards
- Arrange or delete files on computer and server
- organize my backups
Most of the time I am quite radical in deleting and throwing away. I try to get along with a minimum of files and documents. This keeps my workplace “lean” and efficient.
2. Check financial situation
When cleaning up, you may also see the odd bill. Weak order phases are a good time to get your own bookkeeping up to speed and draw up an updated financial plan. In doing so I check,
- how profitable my freelance job actually is
- what expenditure is offset by planned income in the coming months
- what my cash burn rate is
Profitability is the backbone of every company. This also applies to the freelance job. That is why I take my time to conscientiously plan and control my own finances. Weak order phases give me the time to do this.
3. Define goals
In phases of weak order I check my own goals, adjust them and set new goals if necessary. Just as important as checking the financial situation is the checking of the defined goals. I ask myself questions like:
- Is the target still relevant?
- Where do I currently stand in the implementation of my goals?
- What else is necessary to achieve the defined goal?
For the definition of goals I would like to recommend my blog post “Defining goals with the SMART method“ to you at this point.
4. Discover and train new subject areas
For me, it never sounded particularly exciting to do the same job for 40 years. I am interested in many topics. Exploring new topics, looking beyond the horizon, has probably contributed most to the success of my freelance work.
One example: For a few years now I have been dealing with shares. At first glance, this has nothing to do with freelance work as a graphic designer. Well. As a smart investor, you inevitably read the annual reports of a wide range of companies when trading in shares. You learn a lot from their business models, get to know new financial figures and much more. Much of this information was extremely helpful for the development of my freelance work.
Financial education via shares is just one example. Surely you also have topics that are of special interest to you. Weak phases are the perfect time to discover them, to train them and to combine them with your freelance work in a meaningful way. Very inspiring to this thought is also the speech of Steve Jobs “Connecting the Dots“.
5. Take a holiday yourself
Weak order phases are the perfect time to take some time out for yourself. The amount of incoming mails and calls naturally decreases during this phase, i.e. the inner tension is much less. Perfect for recharging your batteries, gathering inspiration in foreign countries and discovering new things. Without ongoing projects breathing down your neck, holiday relaxation is much better. The head becomes free. New ideas, creativity and visions for the future of your freelance work are born.
These were my five strategies for overcoming the slump in orders in the What are your strategies?