Diana Kelly Levey

20+ Ways Freelancers Can Find Work When Business Is Slow

"Sorry we're closed" sign to represent freelance business slowdowns in summer

July 10, 2023

Ever hear of a summer slowdown?  Or maybe you notice an end-of-year slowdown with your freelance business around the holidays?

Once you’ve been freelancing for some time (nearly two decades!) like I have, it can be helpful to track the times of the year when business slows down for you. Particularly when you’re a business owner and you experience a summer slow season as a freelancer.

Taking note of slow seasons in your business helps your fiscal bottom line and your mental health.


When freelance business is slow again, you can be prepared for it and feel less anxious. (Oh right, last July I didn’t have as much business either! Smacks forehead.)

It can happen in any business—whether you’re working a corporate job and waiting for a manager or advertiser to get back to you, or you may have a product or service-based business like a freelance writing business  that takes a hit during a summer slowdown.

While a slower pace is often welcome when you’re working in a corporate environment, when you’re supporting yourself by running your business, it can feel worrisome and stressful when no one is getting back to you about your article and project pitches.

I can’t speak for other freelancers out there, but when business is slow, I tend to stalk my bank account at least daily (maybe a few times), while checking the tabs in my Google sheet on “Invoices Out” and “Assignments Working On” so I’m tallying up how much I’ll have when all that money comes in over the next two months. (Pssst, here are 5 tips to make more money freelance writing this year.)

I knew if business was slower in the summer, it would allow me more personal time to enjoy my favorite season, work on building the freelance writing course and coaching business I launched on Teachable (sign up here!), and update other aspects of my business that fall to the wayside once I’m crazy busy with work. (Like staying on top of social media management and starting a freelance writing blog.)

Anyone who has been freelancing for at least a year probably understands that there’s a “feast or famine” workload that often happens in this independent contracting business and it can take some getting used to.

I figured it might be helpful to share some ways I take advantage of extra time in my schedule as a freelancer when work slows down in order to set myself up for success in the future.

Try some of these ideas that I’ve worked on during slow business times when you need to find freelance writing jobs and you’re experiencing freelance famine:

20+ Things to Do When Freelance Business Is Slow

Here’s how to make a summer slow season work in your favor as a freelancer and freelance writer.

  1. Write content for a course or product to sell. I use slow seasons and downtime to create freelance writing courses online.  
  2. Redesign a website.  Update your site, upload content to your portfolio or build a freelance website if you haven’t already. (I explain how to do this  in my weekend jumpstart e-course.)
  3. Schedule social media posts. Make sure you’re regularly updating Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook. Doing this alone is enough to keep you busy!
  4. Update your LinkedIn profile.  Add new skills, clients, and work experience so potential clients can find you. Post regularly and make sure you’re commenting on others’ posts.
  5. Connect with editors and clients on LinkedIn. I do this regularly to say hello or endorse them. It’s  one of the ways I use LinkedIn to Earn Money as a Freelancer.
  6. Update a portfolio on a third-party site. During a summer slow season in my business, I add links to Contently, ClearVoice and Skyword so new clients on there can find me and see clips I wrote that might be a fit.
  7. Read magazines. You can get digital versions from libraries or visit a bookstore to see what’s new out there! Here’s how to find magazine editors’ contact information.
  8. Check in with publicists. Email or set up calls or in-person meetings during a freelance slow season with PR reps to see who their clients are for future article ideas.
  9. Take new classes. Use this time to brush up on SEO skills, marketing, email marketing and content marketing. Check out the preview lessons on my courses or browse online classes offered via LinkedIn or Hubspot.
  10. Refer a friend. When you’re searching for freelance writing jobs online, if you find one that’s fit for a friend of yours, pass it along! It’s part of building relationships. A slow season for a freelancer is a great time to work on relationships.
  11. Read fiction for pleasure. You may be surprised where you get ideas for freelance articles!
  12. Read nonfiction! Download a memoir, read a how-to book or brush up on freelancing skills with my e-books.
  13. Read your freelance clients’ websites. This is a great time to read content on sites you like and want to write for to come up with article pitches they’ll want to assign.
  14. Catch up on pop culture and entertainment news. Watch TV shows and documentaries that everyone is buzzing about this season.
  15. Do content marketing exercises to find freelance work. Contact potential new clients and introduce yourself content marketing writer. How to find content marketing clients as a freelancer.
  16. Create lists on social media. I started creating private lists of editors and freelance writers to follow on Twitter so I know when editors are posting calls for pitches.
  17. Follow up with previous clients. Reach out to clients I worked with the past two years and say hello. See if they need freelance help.
  18. Read social media group threads and posts. Join Facebook groups for freelance writers, editors, and follow message threads. Comment and add value to the freelance community. Do that year-round—not just during a slow season.
  19. Sign up for online courses from other freelancers. I like Inkwell Editorial’s How to Launch an Online Course.
  20. Get outside. Take long walks and listen to podcasts with interesting interviews. This makes me feel like I’m learning while exercising.
  21. Read those newsletters you’re getting every day. Many of us subscribe to quite a few newsletters from other freelancers and business owners. There are tons of great tips in them. Use this time to read them and take notes. Subscribe to my weekly freelance writing newsletter here.
  22. Experiment with AI tools. Like them or not, AI is here to stay and even if you don’t plan on using it in your freelance business, familiarize yourself with the various apps and language learning modules out there.

While it’s easy (and probably common) to feel anxious and nervous when your inbox is quiet (here’s how to find money in your inbox) and it seems like your pitches have disappeared into a black hole, take a breath and give clients and editors time.

This is much easier to do when you have a savings safety net and if you don’t have a ton of debt.

Here’s what a freelance writer friend of mind does when freelance work slows down:

“When work is slow, I try not to

1.) let it freak me out (Thinking “I’ll never work again!“), and

2.) Let it become an excuse to sit on the couch and watch TV all day (though it is nice to relax every once in a while!).”

Here’s what another freelancer told me she does during a freelance summer slow season.

“I’m marketing and pitching regardless of how much work I currently have on my plate, but slow times are when I really ramp it up and start exploring new potential clients, sending more magazine article pitches and LOIs (letters of intent), and researching topics.

“I could definitely be more organized about it, but it’s working okay for now. I also use slow times as an opportunity to do continuing education I wouldn’t ordinarily do when busy with client work. Right now I’ve got my eye on an online grammar refresher course on Mediabistro.com, and plan on tackling that when things lighten up a bit.”

“I’ll also read articles and books on topics in my field (fitness, exercise science, nutrition, etc.) to help broaden my knowledge.” – Lauren Bedotsky, Freelance Health and Fitness Writer

I know it’s tough to be chill about freelance writing when you’re used to being busy with writing, clients, and projects, but I find it helpful to have faith in the process. If I do my best to increase pitching, marketing, social media, and learning during the downtime, it’ll pay off well within a few days, weeks or months.

Here’s why it’s so important for freelancers to constantly be marketing.

What do you do with your time when freelance work slows down during summer months or holiday seasons?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Work With Me

Diana can help with:

  • Writing content
  • Content marketing writing
  • Content strategy
  • Editing
  • Reporting
  • Magazine writing and editing
  • Website writing
  • e-Course copy and online learning writing
  • SEO writing and strategy
  • Branded content writing and editing
  • Thought leadership content
  • Copywriting
  • Whitepapers
  • SEO writing
  • Launching editorial websites
  • Audience development
  • Blogging
  • Ghostwriting
  • Social media strategy
  • Development of voice and tone
  • Book projects

Email Diana about opportunities: Diana(at)DianaKelly.com.