This time of year, with almost every conversation I have with a freelancer, the question is inevitably asked, 'is it going to be busy leading up to Christmas?'
Let's face it, it's a fair question.
People want to be able to manage with some amount of certainty what kind of work prospects they have. Not knowing can cause a certain amount of stress and anxiety, not to mention trying to make ends meet with the budget around a time of year that is normally quite costly.
The reality is that it can be hard to determine from year to year how busy things will be leading up to Christmas and over the seasonal break.
Past years, I've seen things be busy right up to (and including) Christmas eve. There has been Christmas break up lunches where laptops have been taken along and jobs filled while our Christmas meals come out. Honestly, we don't mind either as it has been great to see the industry so busy.
Other years, it has been a descent into December that has generally started at the start of the month and glided down to silence.
Honestly, you would have as much luck flipping a coin to determine what it is going to be.
However, there are some things that you can do to help reduce the stress or, at the least, make you ready for 2017.
While you may tell yourself that you're no good with numbers, having a financial is of paramount importance if you're going to be a freelancer. It will allow you to know when you need to start putting some money aside so that, come the inevitable quiet period in the new year, you have enough money to pay your bills and not been living lean when it should be a time of celebration. Refer to this article on more information on how to do a budget.
If you've got some quiet time, then why not consider learning a new skill to add to your bow. In the creative world, digital is all the craze yet I see so many freelancers who have had next to no digital skill. Learn how to put together a Wordpress site. Perhaps learn how to use Mailchimp and circulate EDMs. What about web banners and web graphics? There are so many inexpensive or free options that can be found online to assist with developing new skills. For example, you could use the filterson Youtube to find extended length tutorials from the past year on latest software. Go, search, learn!
Actually, take a break!
Let's face it, if you aren't getting offered jobs and you haven't had a break for a little while, why not actually just take a break. While we would like to think otherwise, we can only control a certain amount of things (such as if we say yes to a job or not) and often need to learn when we just need to accept what is outside of our control (if work is coming our way or not). You could do some of the other things here for an hour or so each day to help move towards more opportunities however it may also be a good time to just put the tools down and actually rest, spend time with family and friends and enjoy a break that you might not have otherwise taken.
Refocus with a new CV and folio
If you're a busy freelancer, finding the time to update your CV and folio to ensure that it is reflective of your most recent experience is often hard. Maybe take this time to reflect on the past year(s) and make sure your CV is up to date, highlighting the kinds of skills you've developed, work that you've produced, software you've used and references are up to date. Likewise with your folio; does it contain your most recent work and are you labelling it so that it clearly states what your involvement is.
Unless you're one of those bridge burning types, it might be a good time to reach out to people and reconnect with them. If they've been clients in the past, let them know what your plans are for the end of year break and when you're going to be available in the new year, just in case any work does come through. It always helps to remind people of who you are and what you do as being front of mind is useful for when those last minute jobs come in.
Lastly, this might be a great time to actually get in front of new people. Make some new connections. Professionally, many people are winding down at the moment and the end of year vibe can often place them in the best mood so it is a great time to reach out, introduce yourself and let them know what you can offer them.
While no one can promise you an abundance of work at this time of year (you would have to be weary of them if they did!), you can help yourself to become better prepared for the new year, have a plan of action in place and help to position you and 'your brand' as being the #1 talent to contact in the new year. Of course, this is a great time to also be in touch with your friend Creative Recruiter consultant to let us know what your plans are for the new year too so that we can help keep an eye out in our networks for your on going success.
Of course, if you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJOBS.
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