How to Spend Your Time When Freelance Work Dries Up

If you’re a freelancer of any kind you’ve most likely gone through dry spells from time to time, when inbound work is sparse and you’re left twiddling your thumbs, unsure of how to spend your days. Here I have some suggestions of worthwhile things to do when you find yourself in this often frustrating situation…

Marketing & Advertising

When work dries up, the best way to spend your time may be to put yourself, or your business, in a better position to receive more work. If the clients aren’t coming to you, you have to go to the clients, or at least make yourself more noticeable to them. If the majority of your clients are referred to you from previous clients or have simply heard of your business through word of mouth, it may be time to invest in some marketing and advertising strategies to reach a new audience of potential clients. Advertising on Facebook or Instagram to a narrowly targeted audience can be a great way of making your business known to the people who are in need of the services you provide. Peoples’ attention is now focused, more than ever, on social media and online platforms rather than billboards and magazine adverts. Use this to your advantage.

Alternatively you could research the kind of clients you hope to work with and approach them via direct message, email or phone to offer your services. For example, a graphic designer who is in a slow work period may research a number cafes in his local area that seem to be in need of a fresh brand identity. If this graphic designer can convince the cafe owners that he can add greater value to their business by creating their new identity, and has an impressive portfolio of previous work to back up what he is saying, it is likely he will land at least a couple of paid jobs.

Build Towards Other Income Streams

Diversifying your income is a solid way to ensure you have money coming in each month even if client work dips. If you are a creative freelancer, creating stock products and selling them online is one way to have another income stream, albeit small at first, to keep you going. Some popular places that allow you to do this are sites like Creative Market, Envato and Shutterstock.

If you feel you have creative skills and experience that could help others, you could try teaching online. This could be done in a number of different ways. A YouTube channel on which you upload tutorials or give advice on certain matters may attract other creators, allowing you to earn a small income from ad revenue. This also works as free marketing, as potential clients may find you through your YouTube videos and approach you to work with them. Alternatively you could write an e-book, sharing your knowledge about a certain subject, and selling it for a small price.


Times of little-to-no work are often a curse, but they can also be a blessing. It might just happen that this quiet period coincides with a need for you to take a break. Being a freelancer or running your own business can be demanding and time-consuming, leaving you little time for rest and relaxation. So don’t feel guilty about having a day to recharge and reflect!

These times can also be great for finding new sources of inspiration that will help you when the work does eventually pick up again. Spend time reading, listening, watching, exploring. Learn and be inspired so when you get back to work your creative juices are overflowing and you’re ready to take it to the next level.