What You Should Know About the Freelance Slow Season in August

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Is your business mostly relying on one-off jobs and not retainers yet?

Are you feeling like no one is posting jobs on Upwork or out there in August?

If so, you’re totally normal.

Most people don’t realize until they’ve been in business for some time that August can be a bit of a quiet time. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but I don’t see any sense in trying to throw spaghetti at the wall when all the numbers show that it’s not worth your time to market during this period.

Much like other businesses, your freelance company will ebb and flow.

Freelance busy seasons, for me, have usually been after Labor Day through mid-November and from late January through May. While you can certainly make money other times, it’s better to realize that much like other businesses, your freelance company will ebb and flow.

 

The Dead Zone

In my opinion, the whole month of August is somewhat of a freelancing dead zone.

In the past six years, my “slowest” times for generating business outside of retainers are August and the period from December 15 to January 15. Retainers can be live-saving through these months if you have not set aside extra money to float you through.

People are not in their office in August. They’re taking last-minute vacations, covering for employees who took their own vacations, getting kids ready for back-to-school, etc.

Now, if you’re on retainer, you’re set- but even if a retainer recently wrapped up, you’re probably feeling the August pain.

Simply put: Is it harder to generate business during this period of the year? Possibly: yes. But if you don’t have a retainer-based business, it’s hard not to go into panic mode.

 

Use Your Down Time to Work On Your Business

For three years, I took three weeks of vacation in August because it really wasn’t worth my time to be in my office, pitching. And since most of my clients also went on vacation in August, they were happy to have the work sent in early. Win-win!

The point is not to beat yourself up if you’re out there pitching and not getting responses at this minute. It’s simple numbers- less people online, less people thinking about marketing, fewer conversations scheduled or bids won. Can you still land business? Sure.

But I’ve seen this year in and year out. I’ve found that every time, it’s been better for me to take a break in August and then come back saddles blazing in September.

Take a break in August and then come back saddles blazing in September.

If August seems slow for you, this is a good reminder to work towards retainer gigs when you can and to set aside money to get you through the slow periods.

Success is rarely a straight line- your business revenue might not be, either. It’s not guaranteed to grow every single month. The more you prepare yourself for possible dips, the freer you’ll feel when you can cut yourself some slack.

Review your pitches, create new samples, outline a marketing plan, update your LinkedIn, or clean off your computer if things are slow. It WILL pick up again!