I’d love to tell you that every month of running my own business is roses but I’d be lying. The fact is that there are some months when income is low and I seriously question whether I’m any good at my job.

I know from talking to other freelancers that they feel the same way on occasion.

We are not alone.

It was especially hard the first two years that I ran my business since I really had nothing to base my income expectations off of. Now I know that the summer months are typically low which means while I worry a bit, I don’t spiral in to an abyss of self-doubt.

Sometimes a business really is failing though. Being a great designer, photographer or coder doesn’t mean that you can run a business.

Should I just quit?

At some point quitting freelancing is the right thing to do. You simply have bills to pay and that takes money.

If you’re not making more than you’re expenses (and don’t forget to save for taxes) then you’re not able to keep running your business.

That leaves you with two options.

  1. Quit and get a job
  2. Earn more money

I strongly suggest that 2 is possible you just need to be strategic.

The first thing you need to do is set a deadline for earning more. Now don’t just say more and leave it ambiguous, get the real number and write it down.

By April 1 I will be making $5000 per month

You just might be surprised that with an axe over the business you start to get really motivated by having a deadline for business shut down.

So if you’re in crunch mode here are 5 ways to drum up more business.

5 ways to drum up more business

1 Reach out to past clients

When was the last time you emailed or called old clients that you liked and asked them if they had more work for you? When I’ve reached out to past clients to see about work at least two out of 10 has simply been waiting on a project.

My simple email is all it took to get them to start that project since they no longer had to see if I was available. We started the project within a week and money was coming in to the business.

2 Ask the freelancers you know

Many freelancer’s I know get a bunch of leads each week and they simply can’t handle them all or some of the leads don’t fit in to the specialty they want to focus on.

Those are prime projects for you.

When I email the 10 – 15 other freelancer’s I know well it’s unlikely that one of them doesn’t have a project they said no to in the last week that would be perfect for me. They just assumed I was busy so didn’t ping me to see if I was available.

I often have a project lead in the last 2 weeks that I can’t handle. Just last week a friend became available due to a last minute project cancellation and I recommended them for a project I couldn’t handle.

3 Cold call

This isn’t nearly as fun, but remember you’re trying to save your business/dream it’s about saving it not making sure you feel super comfortable.

So look up 10 – 20 business in your area (Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start) and call them to book an appointment to talk about their site and how you could help them have a better web presence.

If you don’t know what to say then head over to ugurus and get their cold calling script. Now you have no excuse.

4 Ask on social media

Yes I said just ask on social media and see if one of the people you don’t know well has work that you would be good for. Maybe someone follows you that you’re not aware of and has a project that would fit. I’ve done this once or twice (long before I had a few thousands followers) and there was almost always at least one person that had some work for me.

Most times every is just going to assume you’re busy until you tell them that you have some availability.

5 Check the job boards and Craigslist

Job boards and Craigslist is how I started my business (with some cold calling). I used to hit the job boards every day and send at least 10 contacts. If I hadn’t sent 10 contacts when I was done then I found more people to email.

Are the leads here of the highest quality? Possibly not but you need some money to save your business it’s not the time to be super picky. Of course you don’t want to take on terrible clients but taking on a few things that are lower budget to get your income up is a great idea.

Here is the list I used to go through. Jobs Tag on Delicious

You can find some golden clients here as well. I’ve got one client found via Craigslist that has been working with me for 5 years through all my rate increases. They are reasonable and pay on time and I love working for them.

Bonus – Get a marketing system down

Often the real reason that you are looking for work is that you let your marketing languish. You had a bunch of work so while marketing was important it wasn’t ugrent.

Just like taking care of your health isn’t urgent sometimes so you skimp on sleep and eating well. Eventually you’ve gained 100lbs and it hurts to walk. Now your health is both urgent and important.

To combat this setup a marketing system that you can keep up with regularly even when you are busy.

Touch base with at least 2 past clients each week. It doesn’t have to be to say that you have time (if you’re all booked out) but just to say hi and see how things are going.

Touch base with 2 freelancer’s you admire (that you’d love to know better) each week. Again just to say hi and stay on their radar.

Touch base with 2 freelancers that you already know each week. See how work is going for them. Who knows maybe they don’t have enough work right now and you can pass some stuff on to them. You’re now back on their radar.

Now I keep up with my marketing efforts each week by sending a few dozen emails and staying on people’s radars. Sure summer is still slower but I’m never barely scrapping by for work.

photo credit: zachstern via photopin