How to Stay Positive as a Freelancer

For many people, freelancing is a freeing, flexible and exciting way to make a living. But at times it can feel scary, uncertain and lonely. Trust us, we’ve been there. It’s really hard to go from being busy with work from tons of clients to long periods of time when you have no paid projects to work on and it feels like you’ll never book a gig again. But as challenging as it may be, it pays to stay positive during the “famine” moments of the notorious “feast or famine” freelance work cycle.

Here are some ways to cope with not booking work, some tricks for being productive during lulls and tips for staying positive through it all.

Get active

The next time you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle of negativity, trying exercising. Getting your blood flowing is not only helpful for your physical well-being but your mind, too. According to researchers at the University of Vermont, the mood benefits of just 20 minutes of exercise can last 12 hours. Seems like a great return on your time investment, and a healthy way to stay busy so you’re not staring at the clock all day. Plus, going to the gym or working out at a group class is a great way to be social, meet new people and possibly even expand your network.

Ask clients for testimonials

Another way to stay busy during freelancing dry spells is to update your website and portfolio of work, so it’s in tip-top shape when your next client comes calling. Reach out to former clients to ask for LinkedIn recommendations or quotes for your website. Collect images, videos or links from prior work you’ve completed and figure out the best way to display them on your site. Brainstorm, write and create case studies that highlight your strengths and skillset. Taking downtime and turning it into productive time will boost your mood and set you up for success in the future.

Give yourself a break

If you’ve just come off of a huge project (or even if you haven’t), give yourself some time to relax and recover. Freelancing can be super stressful, and sometimes your mind and body need a break from it all. It’s totally okay to give yourself a vacation and stay away from your laptop for a little while. So go ahead. Reach for that remote and see what’s binge-worthy. We won’t judge…just make sure you get back to work eventually ;)

Stick to a routine

Whether you’re working from home, or you’re hustling to find work, having defined working hours will help you stay focused and on track. Even if you don’t have paid work to take care of, try to keep working the same hours that you usually do. Use the time to hone your skills, take an online course or look for new job leads. If you can keep similar hours to your normally busy schedule, it will help your mind associate the time with working. And help you feel more accomplished, too.

Count your blessings

If you really want to feel good, take some time to reflect on all the things going right in your life that you’re thankful for. While it might be easier to focus on the anxiety of not booking a job in the present, take notice of all the advantages your freelance life provides. For instance, what other jobs would give you the flexibility to work (mostly) when you choose to, let you pick your own clients, give you more time with family and friends, and let you do what you love? Freelancing is pretty special. Try writing down all the things you’re grateful for in your line of work. Seeing them on paper will help brighten your mood.

Meditate

The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless. From reducing stress levels to improving sleep and even increasing attention spans, meditating is an effective way to use downtime from work. If you’re not sure where to start with meditation, try using an app like Headspace. With guided meditations that focus on themes like stress, sleep, focus and anxiety, the app gives you quick access to mindfulness—which just may lead to positivity.

Find a community

If the freelance life has you feeling lonely or alienated, or you just really want some human connection that you can’t find at home, put yourself out there and try to meet new people. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, social interactions benefit your mental health by reducing stress and fostering a sense of meaning and purpose. So go to networking events, join online communities and find meetup groups for people in your field. By putting yourself out there, you’ll connect with like-minded people to learn from, share helpful career advice, get inspiration from and more. Plus, you might just make a new friend or two.

Just keep going

At the end of the day, we’re all only human. There’s going to be days when we doubt ourselves, just like there will be days when we feel on top of the world. The most important thing to do is to just keep putting one metaphorical foot in front of the other and remember what got you into freelancing in the first place. If you can fight through the low times, there’s plenty of highs to ride in the future of your very bright career. So get that chin up, and keep on keeping on.

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