It’s easy for us freelancers to get stuck in the cycle of feast or famine. We tend to move from the state of being overwhelmed with work to having nothing at all. Regardless of how long you have been a freelancer, there is nothing like the fear you experience when the drought rolls in. During these periods, it is easy to panic and think you might never fill your dance card again.

This time last year, I was going through a prolonged dry spell. I wailed to anyone that would listen that my time was up as a freelancer, and it was obvious I needed to get a “proper” job that paid a steady income. However, a few positive things came out of that unwanted downtime. Here are five things I learned to help fill up my dance card:

1.      Find a career mentor

When times are hard, it’s great to talk to someone with experience in the same industry who can help guide you, lift your spirits, offer different perspectives, and get you back in business again. Hiring my mentor, publishing consultant Heather O’Connell has been one of the best investments I have ever made. Her calm, expert advice gave me a real confidence boost, and I fully credit her for my rapidly increasing workload.

2.      Post new material

Posting new material on social media for free! What a waste of time . . . Actually since I started posting articles on LinkedIn, I have had way more queries than ever before. While I may be writing blogs for nothing, they have caught the attention of quite a few people, some of whom have become clients. The moral of the story is: never underestimate the power of posting articles online. You may not think it, but some people actually read them!

3.      Revamp your website

My website was old and tired, but it’s just one of those jobs I hadn’t got around to yet. Thanks to the clear direction from website designer Nicola Bird from oneday.io, I now have a lovely, fresh new website marketed to the professionals I most like to work with.  A new website is a great way for you to rethink the way you want to present you and your business to the world.

4.      Form a group

One of the best uses of my downtime was forming United Ghostwriters with my ghostwriting pals. Although we had been in touch for years, we all felt it was the right time to create a marketplace for people looking to hire professional writers. Being members of UG has bonded us closer together, and we continue to support each other by sharing our advice and experiences. Our socials are pretty good fun too!

5.      Network, network, network

When you’re at a bit of a loose end, the best thing you can do is network. That might mean getting out from behind your desk to attend industry events, or following up with old clients (who may provide you with contacts), or contacting prospective clients on social media.

So it’s been a roller-coaster year, and my dance card may be full, but of course it could be empty again in six months’ time. But if that happens, at least I’ll know how to start filling it again when the next famine strikes.