Today is the last post of our three part “getting clients” mini series. If you missed the first two posts, you can visit them here and here. Then you can always come back and read this one, of course. ;) Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the last topic I’d like to cover under the realm of getting clients is what to do when nobody is showing up.
Before we get into it, please remember that for the majority of people, running your own business is a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs and everything in between. Personally speaking, I still have months that are much slower than others. It happens to the best of us and that’s okay. There are, however, things you can do whenever work get slow.
01. TAKE A BREAK To start, consider whether or not it’s okay for you to embrace the slowness. I know this is counter intuitive to what most of you would do in this situation, but honestly, the universe has a funny way of giving us down time, just when we really need it.
This is obviously easier said than done, especially in a modern world that embraces the hustle.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I find myself in a lull, it’s hard for my mind to relax. I’ll refresh my inbox countless times, click through various folders, and essentially fill up my days sitting in front of the computer simply because I believe it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. But that’s not very productive, is it?
I know this is going to sound a little woo woo, but the lull doesn’t truly lift until I’m able to crawl out of that negative mindset, relax, and focus on the positive. All of this is to say: take a break if you can. Or at the very least, be kind to yourself by avoiding the worst case scenario mindset as much as possible.
02. WORK ON A CONCEPTUAL PROJECT Alternatively, if you can’t afford to relax, be proactive instead. One of the best ways to go about doing this is to work on a conceptual project. Something that you’ll be excited to show off in your portfolio in order to attract the right kind of people.
Now, what you do here depends entirely on your current focus. Or, what you’d like to do more of in the future. For example, if you’re a brand designer, then perhaps you create a fake company, design their identity, and build everything out from start to finish. You could even print out some of the collateral materials and put together a beautiful photo shoot if you’d like to kick things up a notch.
It may feel weird at first to share conceptual work, but if you make note that it’s a fictitious project, people won’t mind. In fact, most won’t even notice.
This also gives you something to promote across your various social media channels during a down time, which in turn, may catch the eye of a potential client. So truthfully, it’s a win win situation, across the board.
03. REACH OUT TO PEERS The last idea to consider during a lull is something that I mentioned in the first post about getting clients. And that is: reaching out to your peers.
If work is slow, and you’ve already established a great network of peers, then don’t hesitate to let them know that you currently have an opening in your schedule. Not everyone is going to be experiencing a down time all at once, so chances are, one of your swamped friends is going to take you up on the offer and send work your way.
Alternatively, you could also reach out to local studios or firms to see if they are currently looking for any contract designers. In fact, I see this all the time! Just like us, other businesses experience up and downs within their own company as well. And sometimes, that means they’re taking in more work than what they have capacity for.
This is perfect for contract designers, who come into play for as long or little as they are needed. And again, it’s a win win for everyone involved, where the contract designer fills their lull, while the studio or firm expands their abilities.
04. TRACK YOUR INQUIRIES Now, if you want to get a little more technical, tracking inquiries is a great way to better analyze where your people are coming from, so that you can show up exactly where they are, especially during a down time. ;)
To do this, set up a spreadsheet. I know this is not the most pretty or fun thing to do as a creative, but it’s insightful, so stick with me. Here at Rowan Made, we have a simple Google Doc that’s specific purpose is to track inquiries. It’s only three columns and collects the following data: date, inquiry name, and inquiry source.
Once you’ve done this for several months, you’ll be able to see what method of getting clients is working in your favor. For us, social media has become a biggie over the years. So much so that I would say over 75% of our inquiries come from either Instagram or Pinterest alone. And that’s a huge piece of knowledge! It tells me exactly where my effort is paying off, and if I’d like, where I should solely focus.
You could, however, look at this differently, and decide to amp up another medium that’s currently lacking in order to diversify. For example, if most of your inquiries are coming in through word of mouth, but you’d like to see social media pop up more often for an added sense of security, then perhaps you put a little more effort into regularly posting on instagram (or facebook or whatever you choose).
No matter what, just remember that if you’re currently hearing crickets, the last thing you want to do is come across as desperate. People can smell that from a mile away and it’s definitely not going to help your cause. So sit back, take stock in where you’re at, and move forward in whatever way feels the best for you, whether that’s embracing the slow or filling your time with something that’s more conventionally productive. And remember, this too shall pass. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s entirely true. ♡