The slower work months can feel a bit miserable in the life of a freelancer. The lulls can seem never-ending. Will the work ever come again? Will I be able to pay my bills in the coming months?
Hopefully you aren't too deeply entrenched in these concerns, but if you are, then this particular post might give you some ideas to get the ball rolling again. Even if you don't have these specific concerns, experiencing slower months in your business is bound to happen at some point.
I'd argue that the slower times are some of the best to take care of the biggest marketing projects that can make an impact in your business.
Today we're going to tackle five ways to promote your freelance business during slower months.
Reach out to previous clients you enjoyed working with and let them know about your upcoming availability.
You don't have to let anyone know that you don't currently have work in the pipeline. Instead, be strategic about the way you let clients know that you're available for work they might have for you. One good way to do this is to write something like this:
"Dear [insert the name of your client],
I hope all is well since the last time we spoke. I wanted to let you know that I just finished working on a large project and I have some upcoming availability. I'm filling in my calendar for the rest of the month and thought I'd send you a note in case you have any projects you'd like me to make time for."
By tapping into your current client base first when the work isn't steadily trickling in, you pick the low-hanging fruit. Remember, it's easier to market to existing clients since you've already converted them into paying customers.
2. Update your website.
This might seem like a no-brainer to some. What better time to work on your website than when you don't have any client projects to handle? But so many freelance translators put off their website updates for so long that their sites start to become truly outdated.
The next time work is slow, do a website audit! Look at every page of your site and decide what should stay, what should change and mark your calendar for exactly when you're going to make these changes happen.
For a few website-related tips, check out How to Use Your Website to Build Trust with Your T&I Clients and 13 Must-Know Tips to Nailing Your T&I Website and Converting Leads into Clients.
3. Update your LinkedIn profile and create an outreach strategy for this platform.
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I feel very strongly about the power of LinkedIn, especially for freelance professionals. LinkedIn—but more specifically, LinkedIn messaging—is one of the best ways to gain new clients and to continue marketing to existing ones over time. I would say that if you have a LinkedIn profile and you're not using the platform to market your services, you are leaving money on the table. Full stop.
4. Start sending out several LOIs (letters of introduction) each day to clients in your target market.
You may have heard the term LOI referred to by others as warm email, email marketing, or by another name. Essentially, an LOI is an email to a client in which you introduce yourself and let clients know that you are available to help them by providing translation services. Of course, you have to approach the right clients to make this work, right?
Rather than create a full summary here about how to find the right clients to approach with your LOIs, I would highly suggest reading this blog post by copywriter Jennifer Gregory and listening to her interview with Ed Gandia in this episode of High-Income Business Writing Podcast. And if you're feeling extra excited about this process, I would also very much recommend Jennifer's book on marketing to direct clients. Yes, she writes tips for copywriters, but everything she mentions in the blog post, podcast interview and in her book can be applied to freelance translators seeking new clients.
5. Reach out to those in your own networks and let them know you're looking to expand your portfolio.
When I say "network," I'm talking about everyone you know, people you've met at networking events or social gatherings, relatives, colleagues, other professionals, friends, etc. In a few lines, just mention that you are looking to expand your portfolio as a translator in a certain field or type of project, and ask them to refer others to you if they know anyone. There is no pressure for them to even respond, but if you do this regularly—say, a handful of people per week—, then you can expect for someone to eventually send a referral your way. It's also worth noting that even if these people don't have any suggestions for you right now, they might in the future!
It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of pushing marketing aside, even when work is slow. There are lots of other things that sound much better, right?
Yes, of course, take advantage of a slow month now and then to relax a bit, breathe and slow down, but be careful not to get too comfortable. If you can keep up these regular marketing practices (even during busier months), you will find that the slower months will become fewer and fewer!
What tips do you have for promoting your business during slower seasons of year? Do you keep up your marketing efforts all year long or do you work in spurts?