7 Things to do when your creative business is slow


Recently a colleague posted a question on Facebook. She asked how creative entrepreneurs stay motivated when things are slow. I didn´t have a quick and snappy answer in the moment. But I placed her inquiry in the back of my mind so I could write about it when I had the time.

7 things to do when your creative business is slow

Having always worked for myself, I´m familiar with the ups and downs of the freelance or micro-entrepreneur life. If you are also self-employed, especially in a creative field, you probably know what I mean. There are usually jam-packed months where you have no clue how you’re going to handle it all. And then there are days, weeks, or longer, when you feel that absolutely NOTHING is happening! You start feeling antsy, and pretty soon your neurotic mind starts playing tricks on you.

I know it´s hard to sit with the notion that nothing exciting is happening in your professional life. But it can be a really positive experience, especially if you´re regularly doing all the right things, like building relationships, delivering good work on time, and staying one step ahead of the game, envisioning your next steps before you even need to take them.

At the very least you can rest assured that you are not alone in this feeling of restlessness and semi-desperation. Aside from the normal concerns about bringing in income, being self-employed is also a little bit like being an addict. Every new gig is like a hit, and when we crash during the quiet periods, we crave another shot.

What to do when your creative business is slow

Here is what you can do when you feel like you´re gonna lose it, because you aren´t getting the calls, e-mails or texts begging you to join exciting, challenging and extremely well-paid projects! 

1.- Do what you say you NEVER have time for.-
You know, write the book you want to write, sign up for that course you want to take, get a massage, go for a run, maybe even enjoy some  time OFF! Isn´t that what we always say we want more of?

2.- Prepare the ground for the FLOW.-
When things are “ebbing,” it´s a great time to do some prep work for when things start to flow again, because they will. Clean up your inbox, organize your desktop, set up better systems, buy thank you notes.

3.- Do that one thing that SCARES you.-
No matter what field you´re in, there is probably one thing that you always avoid because you’re too busy. The reality is that it probably scares you, and that´s why you avoid it. It could be doing live videos if you’re a blogger, or pitching a feature magazine if you’re a writer. Whatever it is, take the time now to face that fear.

4.- Give yourself the opportunity to be CREATIVE.-
When clients and money are put into the equation of making our art, it´s easy to feel we can´t be as creative as we want. Well, now that you don´t have a deadline looming, allow yourself to create in different ways. Learn a new skill in a different field that interests you. I consider my main skill to be writing, but I enjoy playing around with drawing and photography.

5.- Read up on the latest DEVELOPMENTS in your field.-
Find out what your weaknesses are and fill your information or knowledge gaps. Get yourself up to speed so when your inbox is overflowing with requests again, you will be ready to tackle them with more enthusiasm and knowing how to better serve your clients.

6.- Riff on possible new VENTURES you could branch out to.-
If your freelancing business or micro-business has a strong foundation, maybe it’s time to brush up on other skills and put them to work for you. What new streams of income could you be creating?

7.- Keep in mind that SOMETHING IS HAPPENING, you just don´t know it.-
If you´re a true professional, there is always someone watching what you´re doing. This is true especially if you work in the digital space. Maybe a proposal you sent a couple of months ago is being discussed. Perhaps a new campaign manager is considering you for an activation. You will soon find out, I assure you!

Here is what you can do when you feel like you aren´t getting the calls, e-mails or texts that will help your creative business grow.


6 Comments on “7 Things to do when your creative business is slow

  1. Isabel

    I am sure every business has its cycles when its busy and when its slow. As an entrepreneur myself, I value that time when its slow because it allows me to read, take a class, organize, and plan ahead for the busy periods. This summer, I read 3 books on the world of e-commerce and completed one class online. Love your tips!

    • 😀 … Yep, all businesses have slow times. It´s a matter of embracing them. When we´re busy, we crave down time.

  2. When I started the law practice of Me, Myself and I, I was often swamped with work. My mother noticed my stress and said, “Just don’t take so many cases.” I tried to explain the importance of being available for referral sources, that if word got out that I was too busy, all my referrals would dry up. This phenomenon, of course, is not the situation you describe in this post, but it’s the flip side of feeling antsy when you’re not “too busy”. I admire you for being able to embrace that time and use it constructively.

    • As a life-long freelancer and self-employed woman I used to be scared of the well running dry and would say yes to everything, even if it meant no sleep. I learned to say no when I really could not and created a network of professionals (informal) where we all referred each other. It´s cool to have that support. Thank you!

  3. Entrepreneurship is a journey. Highs and lows are very common in this trek. I think a person associated with a business better knows that at a certain point of time there occur inescapable slowdowns: usually, when the customer passes from sight, sales fall off and the overall affairs drop off. Well, it does not matter whether it is a seasonal slackening or an inclusive monetary dwindle, the potency of the person associated with this situation depends on how he responds when his calling stagnates. From my opinion, he should not be panic in such cases, rather he should take it as a chance to take stock of his ruling sphere. In addition to that, he should map out new targets and aims by setting new business strategies in motion. Thank you.

    • Absolutely! I see many colleagues panicking and that is of zero benefit. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

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