I once heard another freelance writer say that a successful freelancer will never have a slow season. How’s that for guilt? I am happy that they work for the right industries that need constant content and obviously have robot employees that never take a day off.
A Slow Writing Season Isn’t Always Your Fault
In all seriousness, having a slow season as a writer is not always a reflection on you. The freelance world changes quickly. Depending on your niche, slow seasons are unavoidable. When I wrote for a few different universities, they worked on a quarterly system and only had so many funds devoted to content creation. Also, it was natural for university workers to take a long winter break and a summer break just like their students.
Similarly, I have experienced slow seasons when editors are on vacation or during the holidays. I can’t force my editors to assign pieces. They get paid time off – they don’t care that I’m begging to write something the week before Christmas.
If you find yourself stuck in a slow season too, don’t think it is because of a lack of skill. Instead, try these three tips to help you survive and thrive through quieter work moments.
Many times a lack of assignments is due to an editor being overwhelmed with other work. Since I have a long-established relationship with several editors, I am allowed to send a handful of pitches at a time. I try to make their job as easy as possible by pitching them a mix of seasonal and evergreen content that will drive affiliate sales and hit certain SEO keywords.
My increased pitching efforts are thanked because many times these subjects were already on their mind but they didn’t have time to build out a story idea or assign it. I act as part assistant/part writer and it leads to more work. This also leads to editors realizing that you can take very loose or messy ideas and turn them into concrete articles.
This is also your opportunity to pitch a new publication. Sometimes writing one piece for a new outlet is a lot less daunting than trying to find a new client altogether. Also, one accepted pitch will give you a paycheck and can lead to more opportunities if you need them. Don’t be afraid of pitching. The worse thing that will happen is that your email goes ignored or that you get a “no” answer back. It really isn’t that bad! On the flip side, pitches can lead to one assignment, many assignments, and even new contacts and leads altogether. You really can’t predict how far the right pitch to the right person will go.
Offer Alternative Writing Services
When you need to keep the paychecks rolling in, try offering different services that will benefit existing or new clients. For example, revising articles to fit updated lingo and SEO terms is always needed. You can also offer to write social media prompts or pitch to turn popular posts into a short e-book or podcast/YouTube script. These jobs might pay less, but they are a great opportunity to try something new and creative. I know that when I am in a slow season for writing, I need a change of work and scenery to keep my hopes and motivation up.
Work on Projects That Further Your Brand
There’s no doubt about it that a slow season of work can be frustrating, especially when the finances are tight. However, this season might be a gift for you to launch yourself as a brand even further. Now is the time to position yourself as the best niche writer in your field. You aren’t just a freelance writer — you are the top (insert your niche here) writer in (insert your state/country here).
How can you deepen your expertise in your niche? First, you can start by updating your LinkedIn profile and publish useful articles that will be relevant to potential clients. You can also write and self-publish a book in your niche. I know that sounds completely daunting, but it can help attract new clients and establish a passive income stream for yourself. Simply fill in the blanks to find your book idea:
(Very specific area of your niche) for (an overlooked audience group in your niche)
Here’s what that might look like in real life:
- Main niche: parenting – book idea: Potty Training for Single Dads
- Main niche: personal finance – book idea: How to Afford a Tiny Home in One Year
- Main niche: weddings – book idea: Plan the Perfect RV Honeymoon for under $XXXX
Note that when I say write an e-book on a very narrow niche topic, I am truly just saying to write a very long article. This will not be your typical publishing house book that is 50,000-75,000 words long. We are talking about 10,000-15,000 words. Yes, still daunting, but think of it like writing 10 1,000-word articles instead to take some of the pressure off.
If you find yourself in a slow writing season, don’t beat yourself up! Try these three tips and take this slow season as a way to reset your goals and life. You might discover that this lag in work was exactly what you needed to pivot to a higher-paying client or freelance field.