Blog, Design Ideas, Productivity Pointers

What To Do When You Can’t Find Any Design Work

Every now and again we all hit a dry patch…

There’s no shame in admitting it.

All businesses, small and large, go through fallow seasons. It’s part of the the ebb and flow of running a company – the most important thing is that you’re prepared for it when it finally arrives.

So you’ve just finished the last project on your slate. You’ve sent off the files and invoiced your client, then a sickening feel drops in your stomach. You look to your email inbox: empty. You search your feeds for any social messages that  might have fallen through the cracks: nothing. Finally, you resort to the unlikeliest of eventualities – maybe someone’s dropped a message on your answer machine and you’ve somehow missed it? Nope.

The most important to do in this situation? Don’t panic.

If you’re a freelance designer, like me, you’re bound to run into this issue at one point or another. We try to keep a constant stream of work coming our way, but sometimes fate works against us. As soon as you’ve calmed yourself down with a stiff caffeinated drink – take a sit down and run through these ideas of what to do, when there’s no work to do:

Spam Your Email List HARD

Your email contacts, collected through your website and previous jobs, are the absolute best chance you have of picking up more work in the future. As long as you’ve done solid work for these people, they should remember you fondly and want to give you the work.

It might well be the case that they have no jobs for you, but the creative world is one that is always talking to each other and if you contact enough people, your name will get passed into the right hands.

Re-Evaluate Your Portfolio

Whilst you’ve got some spare time on your hands, it never hurts to have an honest, disparaging look at the work in your portfolio. Both online and off, this is the document that best represents your work as a designer.

Are there some designs in there that look a little outdated? Does some of this work put you in a bad light? Be honest with yourself and make edits where needed.

Touch Base With Old Clients

Sometimes an email just doesn’t cut it. Have a flick through your contacts, preferably ones you’ve dealt with in the past year and call up for a chat. Create some kind of pretext – it could be an upcoming conference or even an article in a magazine you want to recommend – then pull the conversation over to your work.

There’s nothing wrong with acting a little shadily. Your business should come first – so swallow your pride and get on the phone.

Work On New Ideas

Don’t spend 10 hours a day pulling your hair out over finding new jobs. Its ironic that having all this free time is causing you so much stress, but there are some upsides to this. Take a few hours each day for personal development. Do some research, look for companies that are in need of a re-brand and take it upon yourself to prepare a theoretical tender.

By keeping your designing skills sharp, you’ll be best prepared for when you’re back working again. The work that you end up with might even be good for later projects.

Don’t Get Lazy

This perhaps the most important tip of all. You might feel like you can survive for the next few weeks on the modest invoices that are coming your way, but you need to stay proactive to make sure that you don’t end up in the breadline

Set your alarm clock every day, as if you had a whole day of work ahead of you. Stay off the hooch mid-week and stay focused.

If in doubt – just think what Shia would do.