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Navigating a Dry Spell: 11 Ways to Stay Productive

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salesdroughtThe holiday season is once again upon us, and unless you’ve been working diligently to keep yourself occupied, you may very well find December to be a sleepy month.

Many small businesses have slower sales at the end of the year, simply because everyone’s priorities are elsewhere. From holiday parties to Christmas shopping, people are juggling a million different responsibilities and obligations.

Fortunately, a downturn in your work doesn’t have to be the cause of frustration. Instead, why not use your lighter schedule to address some of the items on your to-do list? All of these activities will further strengthen your professional profile, and with a bit of luck, should lead to additional opportunities in 2016.

1. Rework Your Portfolio

Your website serves as the first point of contact many clients have with you—don’t let an ineffective portfolio drive people away. If you haven’t given your resume/portfolio much thought recently, take some time to ensure clips are relevant, links are working, and the overall appearance is appealing.

Still relying on a free web platform like Blogger or Tumblr? Why not create your own website with a nice freelance theme?(Check out this list of free options.) This can help you build credibility in the eyes of your would-be clients.

2. Write Future Blog Posts

Fast forward to January, and you’ll be playing catch up like crazy! The last thing anyone wants to do at the end of the long day is write a blog post, so why not brainstorm ideas and evergreen content now? It’s always a good idea to have a few posts ready to publish, for those times when you simply won’t be able to churn out new content.

3. Revisit Old Posts

While you’re at it, sort through the older blog posts on your website. Some of your previous posts may no longer be relevant, while others may need some tweaking. Check the links to ensure everything is in working order, and reread your work to search for errors you might have missed the first time around.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to go through your old posts at least once a year. If you want to perform a more comprehensive blog audit, consider these tips from ProBlogger.

4. Focus on Sales Prospecting

Contacting a lead a few days before Christmas is a surefire way to lose the sale, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend some downtime prospecting. Take some time to find new customers or publications you’d like to pitch. Work on your query letters now and save a full queue of them to send in a few weeks’ time. Think how great it will be to be negotiating with a long list of new clients in January.

5. Add to Your Certifications

Clients like to work with expert writers with proven experience in their niche of choice. Why not use your extra free time to take some online classes or get certified in a new skill? If you’re traveling over the holidays, work through some writing courses or books from industry leaders while you sit in the airport.

6. Build Partnerships with Other Bloggers

Guest blogging is a simple way to grow your sphere of influence, network with others, and acquire more clips. Think of your guest blogging efforts as a marketing endeavor, and start working on a list of blogs to pitch now.

7. Connect with Real-World Clients

Many freelancers tend to explore networking opportunities exclusively online, but canvassing for clients in person can often generate impressive results. Spend some time identifying companies in your area that could benefit from your marketing expertise, and try to schedule meetings for January.

8. Invest in Social Strategization

Social media isn’t only a powerful way to connect with other movers and shakers in the freelance world. Savvy writers should be using social marketing to connect with potential clients and editors. If you haven’t updated your Twitter account in some time or you’re only sharing cat memes, spend some time reading up on how to best use social media to boost your bottom line.

9. Write Stuff to Sell Later

So, you’ve run out of work and have put sales on the back burner—why not spend your down time building a cache of material you can sell later? If you’ve identified editors you’d like to pitch in a few week’s time, start working on the first draft of your proposed piece now. Some digital publications actually request complete submissions, as opposed to a simple outline.

You might also want to write content you can sell on marketplaces like Constant Content. I find Constant Content is a great backup plan. If for some reason an editor doesn’t accept your pitch and you have trouble marketing your submission elsewhere, you might find an independent buyer willing to pony up some cash through a content marketplace.

10. Start Negotiating New Rates for 2016

Don’t ring in the new year without revisiting your current writing rates. It’s not uncommon for freelancers to reach out to existing clients in December with information about their changing rates. For further reference, check out this piece Nicole Dieker recently wrote on raising your rates for 2016.

11. Develop New Resources

Relying on one client to pay your bills is an awful way to run your business. Ongoing marketing needs fluctuate, budgets tighten, and promotional strategies evolve with time. If a single client makes up the bulk of your online earnings, you need to think about diversifying your income in 2016.

Freelancers and bloggers do this in a multitude of ways. From selling advertising space to building digital courses, pursuing affiliate relationships, and writing instructional ebooks, explore the options available for growing your income during your holiday break. Not only will this approach help safeguard your finances next year, but it could significantly grow your current salary.

Happy holidays, blog readers! How will you be spending your downtime this holiday season?