Having spoken to fellow freelancers and business owners recently, it seems August has been a tough month for many so far. Including me.
In all honesty, it’s a scary feeling when the emails suddenly die down or orders are slower than usual. But, with any business, whether you’re a plumber, a florist or a copywriter, there are always going to be downtimes. There will be highs. And lows. But it’s how you react to the lower times which will really help you to succeed.
When the busy season arrives – and it will – you’ll be grateful for month’s like this when you have the breathing space to regroup, recharge and get yourself ready for the season ahead.
With that said, here are 10 things to do when business is slow. And sadly, it doesn’t include taking a two week trip to a deserted island, with blue skies and cocktails galore.
Brainstorm new ideas
Having the mind capacity and space to be able to brainstorm new content ideas is one of the reasons I’m thankful for the downtime I’m experiencing right now. Grab a notebook (you have my permission to head to Homesense and buy a brand new one), a pen, and start to jot down new ideas for your business. Are there other ways of making revenue? Is there a list of people you’d like to collaborate with? Do you want to create some new feature ideas you could potentially pitch to a magazine? Get writing!
Become inspired again
Take a day or two to become inspired once again. We all have periods where we feel like our ideas have literally all dried up, or we struggle to shift the writer’s block. Be grateful for this time to read magazines, or head to your local library if you’d rather save some money, to go for a walk around your local city, to window shop, to see the new seasonal trends, to take yourself away from the computer, to visit an art gallery or to spend time with people who build you up and inspire you – you’ll soon have those creative juices flowing again.
Get financially organised
Have you done your tax return yet? Use this downtime wisely and get yourself financially organised, whether that’s sorting out a tax system for the rest of the year, working out a budget to make sure you’re saving just as much as you’re spending, opening a pension scheme or looking into a Lifestyle ISA, or moving credit cards to a 0% interest rate so you’re not paying more than you need to be. For more financial advice, I’d definitely recommend checking out Easy as VAT, one of my must-read blogs now I’m running my own business.
Work on your Pinterest game
I was lucky enough to be invited to an event with Pinterest in London recently to hear more about the platform and what we can expect for the coming year. It’s a huge driver of traffic to Apartment Number 4 and if I could recommend doing just one thing in this quiet period, it would be to work on your Pinterest game. If you’re a blogger, it can direct traffic right back to your site. If you’re a brand or a store owner, you can link products and drive those sales. You don’t even need to spend time every day Pinnin’ – just join a scheduling suite like Tailwind and it does the job for you! Get a free month on Tailwind with my referral link right here. There are so many amazing ways to use Pinterest, and with 200 million people worldwide using it on a daily basis, now’s the time to get a hang of it.
Plan your social media strategically
Although I’m fairly organised in day-to-day life, I’m the worst of planners when it comes to social media. I don’t know what I’m going to Instagram until I’m sat staring at my phone, realising it’s been a week since I last uploaded. But what this quiet period has allowed me to do is plan a fairly good schedule of social content for the weeks ahead. By using Tweetdeck, Planoly, Tailwind and Facebook Publisher, I’m able to plan content now for when September arrives and the emails start dropping back into my inbox.
Work on your SEO
Is your website SEO friendly? Or do you, like me, have hundreds of posts that need a little search engine optimisation loving? I’m using the next couple of weeks to go through my old posts and make sure they’re as searchable as possible, images are up to date, I’ve Pinned everything, and there are zero broken links. Tech issues like this are something I’ll often put off because I’m too busy but now’s the perfect time to get everything fine-tuned and in full working order.
Learn a new skill
As well as using this time to brainstorm and become inspired again, quieter periods in business are the ideal time to learn a new skill. Do you want to work on your photography? Or are you looking to up your Photoshop game? Is there a skill that’s missing from your business that you could be mastering right now? Now’s the time to get a head start. Skillshare is my favourite way of learning something new – I’m currently on a masterclass of Adobe InDesign and absolutely loving it. Get 2 months of free Premium Skillshare right here with my referral link.
Pitch ideas to new clients
It’s hard when the emails dry up, especially when you’re used to a constant stream of revenue. But don’t sit and wait for those contacts to get in touch. Go out and pitch to clients yourself. I have a target of pitches I like to hit daily, where I reach out to brands I really love and put forward collaboration ideas and how I think we could work together over the next couple of months. It’s about introducing your brand to businesses and customers that might not have heard about you previously. Don’t wait for those opportunities to come knocking, go out looking for them.
Create a Reader’s Survey
You think you know what your readers want? Wrong. With new readers arriving frequently, and the tastes of loyal readers changing, one thing I like to do is create an annual Reader’s Survey. This is where I discover what’s needed from my business, what my readers are looking for, how I can up my game and what I need to change. It helps to start the “new year” in September with a solid plan in place of how you’re going to grow through the rest of 2018 and give readers or customers what they really want, instead of what we think they want. Because, as you already know, your audience should be at the heart of everything you do.
Update your branding
Finally, does your branding need a little refresh? Are your colours or logo feeling a little tired? If so, then use this time to moodboard some new creatives and speak to a designer – or even do it yourself – about giving your site a facelift. It doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul, but do make sure your branding is consistent across your website, your social media channels, your paperwork etc. It’s so nice when you recognise a brand instantly, no matter what platform, because of consistently beautiful branding.
Quiet periods in business are nerve-wracking, there’s no denying that, but it’s inevitable within any industry. The way to remain positive is to use this time wisely to continue growing your brand, concentrate on self-care and plan for the future. Because, believe me, next month you’ll be craving a little downtime when life suddenly gets busy again. Enjoy it.
How do you deal with downtime in your business?