10 Things I Did When Things Got Slow As a Freelancer…

Last week Dennis Field shared a great perspective on When Things Get Slow for freelancers. I got to thinking about my time as a freelancer and about how I found new exposure or tried to attract new clients.
My secret for generating new business interest as a freelancer: get WEIRD. Do unique and fun projects that get attention.
I don’t have really any more great advice for you here, but I do have examples of some things I did to get your wheels turning.

When things get slow..

1. Get weird

@jaredsgibbons and I left disposable cameras around Columbus for crowdsourced images of the city. Anyone could pick up the cam and take a photo of a landscape or selfie. People started seeing the images (like the one below) and asked about what the eff was going on.

2. Get brand Exposure — in the wild.

We donated power strips to local coffee shops with Columbus Startups branded stickers on them. This way every time someone plugged in, they see our brand. Essentially we were “powering” the startup scene.

3. Try non-traditional advertising, like sponsor coffee for the day at a coffee shop.

It was way better than buying ads, and it led to happier customers in the shop (win-win). Plus we got to watch as people’s day got brightened.

4. Dont “launch party” — host an event with meaning.

Let them be a part of your brand values and make people feel good about themselves. A good idea could be Charity, or a dinner introducing a bunch of people. For me I hosted dinners and meetups for 6–8 people I thought should meet.

If you do Launch party, it should celebrate the customers vs. celebrate your business (aside from an internal party).

The questions should be: “How can you make them feel like ballers for knowing you?”

How we did it for Death to Stock was that we threw a concert!

5. (Must be said) T shirts, while cool, do not stand out.

We hand pick @tattly tattoos for our Death to Stock customers, let’s GET WEIRDER people. And the hand written note is a given for being personal.

6. When things got slow as a freelancer… I made a broadsheet Newspaper and sent it to my favorite companies. Sorry for the weird note @kinfolkmag / @FreakerUSA!

This one took serious time and effort, but if you’re sending resumes, there’s no way they’re going to be read. A full newspaper however..

This was a fun way to proactively show people what I was up to, in a way that would be talked about around the office.

7. Give the human touch: All of the people on My Gold List Email list got to X marks the spot tattoo to place wherever they wanted!

Again getting back to letting people be involved in your brand. They typically receive all of my writing via email, so I thought, hey let’s do my email list this week just with regular mail instead! Since I’ve got a bunch of pirates in my crew Arrrrgggh !

8. When things get slow as a freelancer: Host an instameet! Or a design jam.

This connected me with tons of other like minded people, not to mention great exposure via everyone’s photos flooding the feeds of people in our city.

9. Send clients value BEFORE they hire you.

@deathtostock was value for @alliepal and my peers before they asked. We found something we thought would be helpful as a service and product and just said “hey here’s great photos in case you need them, make something great.” Side benefit: turned into my full time gig.

10. Counterintuitive: contract (pay) another freelancer for work. This buys you new access to THEIR network.

I met Allie, Co-founder of Death to Stock this way. Not only do you learn to work with a potential collaborator, but you gain access to their network. Plus how sick are these logos!

To sum it up: There are many companies that need you, badly. To be talked about, you have Inspire them with a good story they can share. After that you become “The guy/gal who..”

As always, reach out if there’s a way I can help with whatever you’re building,
-David Sherry / The Gold List / / Death to The Stock Photo /