Ask Iona - How should you prepare for the silly season

All freelancers know what it’s like to go through a lean patch. But if there’s one time of year that’s almost guaranteed to be quieter if you’re self-employed, it’s the summer. It’s not called the silly season for nothing!

There are exceptions: for freelance wedding photographers, summers are non-stop. And freelancers often pick up work covering for full-time employees who go on holiday.

But even I have noted my diary is a bit ‘gentler’ than normal over the next few months. But I see no reason to panic. Summer presents a great opportunity to make progress on other projects - so long as you have secure finances underpinning it all. So, here’s to how smooth your cashflow and counteract any lull in your summer work schedule.

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1. Prevention is better than a cure. It’s obviously wiser to plan for lean periods than to tackle them when they are suddenly here. So, get in the habit now of saving some of the cash you earn from larger projects and building a roster of regular clients over time. Just having a few dead certs in your diary will do much to ease your finances (and stress levels). But if you find yourself short of prospects, there’s only one thing for it…

2. Hit the phones! Actually, call up your best clients/contacts and ask what you can do for them right now. An email can be easily ignored, a phone call less so. But only take on as much work as you can handle. Expect a low hit rate but be prepared in case most (or all) your approaches land.

3. Market yourself. Start a company blog and a regular social media schedule if you haven’t already. Or update/overhaul your website if it’s looking a bit tired. 

4. Organise your finances. Get ahead of the tax rush by tidying up and digitising your receipts, checking whether you have any outstanding invoices and re-examining your rates: have they kept pace with inflation or the market? Has your stock risen in recent times? And maybe you can upgrade your financial set-up. There are several new freelance finance systems on the market to consider, such as Coconut and Albert.

5. Finally, embrace the quiet. Take that course you’ve been putting off. Go to more networking events. Or, in my case, finish writing that book!

Meet the author

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Iona Bain

IPSE Freelancer of the Year 2018, Founder of Young Money Blog and Author of Spare Change.