Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Yolander Prinzel, one of the funniest, sharpest people I know in the freelance writing business. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express, Covestor.com, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her new book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is available on Amazon.
There may come a time when your freelance writing business temporarily flatlines and needs an amp of epi. It happened to me last year, when almighty Google decided to take me off the first page of search results for my specialty and hide me back in the weeds with the bloated mafia corpses.
It may sound bad, but a dry spell doesn’t have to mean the end of your business. When it comes to emergency resuscitation, there are two things that can help you pull through:
#1: The Profits You’ve Set Aside
The profits that your business earned in the good months, and that you’ve set aside, are what you use to pay your salary while you create and implement the action plan that gets your business back into a normal sinus rhythm. It’s a good idea to review your personal spending and create an emergency budget to live on so that you can cut your salary and let your profits last a bit longer. (And have you created a go to hell fund, as Dr. Freelance prescribed a few months ago?)
#2: Your Action Plan
Here are six steps your emergency action plan should include:
1. Diagnose the funk: You have to face the cause of your business slowdown in order to fix it. If you cover your ears and sing “The Girl from Ipanema” in an effort to ignore the trouble, it’s never going to go away—and your income is probably never going to recover. To make a diagnosis, consider doing a client satisfaction survey, reassessing your marketing methods, and reviewing your networking process.
2. Reach into your network. Touch base with clients and editors you’ve worked with in the past who might have new work for you and let them know you’ve got some openings in your schedule. You’d be surprised how many will email you back and give you assignments that can lead to even bigger things. Remember, though, that if client dissatisfaction is at the root of your business slowdown, you may not have any bites.
Your client network isn’t the only resource you’ve got, of course. You can also reach out to writer friends and see if they need any help with big projects or if they can send gigs your way that they’ve turned down. Then, talk to designers, editors, and proofreaders in your peer group—anyone who might have a lead on some work. (This is also a reminder to stay in regular touch with them—no one wants to hear from you only when it’s an emergency.)
3. Use your open schedule to create passive income opportunities. These will NOT give you a quick fix, but this is a good time to use your unscheduled working hours to create websites, books, training materials, and other products or services you can sell that will bring in residuals should your freelance writing business head south again. Plus, creating these tools keeps you busy and productive, which helps you stay positive.
4. Expand your service offerings. When the amount of new business I attracted started to drip rather than cascade, I added new services to my roster. Many of the new services were in categories that past clients had asked me about and I had turned down. I made sure to let my old clients know that I could now handle these projects and this made a huge difference.
5. Think about alternative ways to get your name out there. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore, then it’s time to try something new. Guest post on a popular blog that your target clients read. Tool around on LinkedIn and join some of the groups your target clients are in, and interact with them. Be helpful and get noticed by virtue of your awesomeness rather than by pitching and hard selling. Join a forum your target client is likely to be in and do the same. There are tons of ways you can expose yourself to your clients (well, you know what I mean).
6. Continue marketing. Once you’ve made sure that mistakes in marketing aren’t behind your business’s brush with death, keep moving forward with it. It’s also a good idea to add in and experiment with some new marketing methods such as ads, cold calling, direct mail, and so on.
In the comments: What are your tricks to creating income and reviving your freelance writing business after an unexpected slowdown?
Photo courtesy of LeoSynapse.