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Small Business Tips \ JAN 18th 2012

How to Overcome Freelancer’s Blues

Being your own boss has some incredible advantages but it also carries some risks. As the freelance industry is booming, some newly diagnosed conditions are becoming more  widespread. One such  affliction is known as “Freelancer’s Blues”, a well known, non-life-threatening condition, much like the common cold.

If you’re a freelancer and have experienced one or both the following symptoms you may have contacted Freelancer’s blues:

–    An occasional drop in motivational energy, especially during dry spells.
–    A general air of loneliness (that may come and go.)

But do not discourage! We’ve gathered some tips to help you overcome Freelancer’s Blues!

Staying Motivated During Dry Spells

Every freelancer goes through dry seasons, those awful periods when business is slowing down. In such periods, to get your spirits up and avoid stagnation, try the following:

Remind yourself your greater goals– those that go beyond paying this month’s bills.  Where do you want your business to be a year from now? Where do you see yourself professionally 3 years from now? Think far and big and keep your eyes on the greater plan, not just the present day.  Remember that in the grander scheme of things, this period is only a phase and things will get better.

There’s always something to take care of– You are your own boss, your own bookkeeper, your own marketing team and your own sales person. That’s a lot of work and skills.  Surely one of these departments needs care.  Are all your books in order? Are your Google ads optimized? Have you tried SEO? What about growing your LinkedIn network? There’s much that can be done and dry season is best to care for these things and have them ready for busier times.

Self propelling– aka freelance.  There are many resources on the web that advertise jobs for freelancers. Sometimes even getting lower paying gigs is good for a while to get your name out, to keep working and most important, to maintain your self-value.  If clients are not calling you daily, get proactive.  Check out this list of 31 job boards for freelance work and start hunting for gigs.

Work on your elevator pitch– If you haven’t done it so far, this will help you focus on your goals.  An elevator pitch is a minute long answer to “so what do you do”? It needs to be concise, clear and contain a spark, some element that would entice the listener to hear more. Changing your elevator pitch a bit, to accommodate different types of listeners, can help to get more people interested and to spread the word about what you do.

Dealing with Freelancer’s Loneliness

 We’re social animals, working from home all the time means we spend long hours alone, without much human interaction.  No water cooler conversations, no team projects or daily lunches with colleagues.  (Apparently, this part of  Freelancer’s blues may not be as widespread as some people think, read this interesting post about the myth of the lonely freelancer )

Here are some methods for overcoming occasional loneliness:

Social Networks– Technology is the key to staying connected. Some days you are actually too busy to even make plans for later, but online conversations are a good way to interact at any time. Give yourselves breaks to open your Facebook or Twitter and engage in conversation with friends, family or the general community.  For many freelancers, this is a great way to stay involved and socially active on a daily basis.

Business Networking Organizations– Join a business networking organization and go to meet-ups, events and lectures. Business networking organizations are an awesome way to meet people, learn new things, and most importantly, get more business referrals. Check out BNI and 4Networking to get a better idea on what business networking can do for you.  In any case, it’s a kind of interesting social interaction that can also profit your business and can become part of your weekly routine.

Work from a café’/co-working space– It’s great to spend most of the day in your Pj’s, however, venturing out might do you good. The local coffee shop is often a freelancer’s haven. Take your laptop there and work for a few hours a week. You can also try free community co-working spaces. These are becoming increasingly fashionable and you can actually make rewarding connections. If you happen to live in NYC or in San Francisco, you’re always welcome to work at the Wix Lounge. Coffee’s on us!

Get out more– Visit friends, make new friends. Go to conventions and trade shows. You can also take a class on a work related topic and meet new people. Having a well balanced life that contains work time and fun time will make your overall frame of mind happier.

Taking Good Care of Your Body

This may not seem related to Freelancer’s blues, however, caring for your body is essential for your mental well-being. Depending on your line of work, you may actually be spending 8-12 hours a day in front of the computer, without so much as even walking to your car or the train. This means you’re not moving much or let’s say, not moving much the right way.

Take a Pilates class– Pilates exercise is wonderful for strengthening inner and outer muscles and moving your body gently back to a healthier posture. Your local gym very likely offers a pilates class or you can easily find a professional in the area. If pilates is not your cup of tea, go with yoga, aerobics, swimming or any other training that will get your blood flowing. And hey, until you figure out what kind of sports you’re into, you can always take a 45 minute walk at the end or in the middle of your work day.  Just put on your sneakers on and get out there!

Eat well– You’re home all day; take an hour break and cook something nice and wholesome. Having a snack when you are in a rush to make it to the bus is understood. But being your own boss means you get to set up your daily schedule a bit more wisely, so give your body some love.

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