Regardless of your chosen industry, there will come a time when you will be between jobs while working from home. Many remote positions come about because the employer or client doesn’t have enough work to justify keeping an employee on full-time payroll. To meet a small business budget, you often need liquidity to keep costs and unnecessary expenses to a minimum. While this is great for small businesses, it’s sometimes not so great for the independent contractor on the other end.
That’s not all doom and gloom though! Many of us enjoy the flexibility that comes with freelancing, and the occasional downtime can be a time to reflect on our own business and make changes for the better.
If you’ve got yourself some time off before your next project starts, here are a few ways to make sure it’s still spent productively and working toward your end-goals.
1. Catch up on your book
I can’t be the only person who works from home and hates bookkeeping. However, it is a necessary evil. Not only do you need to keep track of your finances for the sake of the federal government – they certainly want to make their cuts, and in a timely manner – but you also need to know where your business is going.
If you don’t know how much you’re making and how much you’re spending and how those numbers are trending, how do you know if you’re profitable? How do you know if you’re headed for financial disaster? you won’t
Take a moment to sit down and enter your income and expenses online. I use QuickBooks Simple Start which runs about $15 per month. They have a self-employed program for only $10 per month (get self-employed for up to 50% off for a limited time). My favorite feature is that QuickBooks pulls in all your bank and PayPal transactions and learns how to automatically categorize things for you. You can run all your runs through QB and even estimate if on Simple Start.
QuickBooks Advanced Reporting lets you instantly see how your income is doing, where you’re spending money, and what invoices are due. Check out QuickBooks here.
2. Learn a new skill
One of the best ways to increase your hourly rate is to offer in-demand skills. You shouldn’t offer skills in demand if you don’t know what you’re doing.
There is an endless supply of online learning opportunities. And you don’t have to learn anything from Joe Blow anymore. There’s a good chance the industry experts you follow have courses available for purchase as well.
- Make your laptop life – learn all the hot virtual assistant skills
- Elite Blog Academy – Learn the ins and outs of successful blogging and offer those skills to others
- Udemy – This site has affordable courses for almost everything under the sun
Pick something of interest or that clients are already asking about and learn.
3. Contact previous clients
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep in touch with previous clients. Just a quick “how’s it going?” Or passing along an article of interest every once in a while will put you at the front of the list (hopefully) if they need help again. And you won’t feel so weird about sending them a quick email about an opening for another client. A warm market is the best market. Keep it warm, friendly and supportive.
4. Update your service listing or portfolio
When was the last time you updated your service listing, portfolio or even media kit? If it’s been a while, maybe something has changed. Maybe it’s time to up your rates, too.
Review all your client interest and onboarding documents to ensure they are all up to date and reflect your current offers and prices.
5. Work on your passive income
Every independent contractor knows the importance of diversification and multiple streams of income. Especially when the well runs dry. We are talking about being on the job after all.
There are passive income opportunities for everyone, regardless of your interests or budget. Options run from dividends to peer-to-peer lending to real estate investing to blogging and beyond. These little things don’t require a lot of effort every day but can pay off big time in the long run.
Oh, how I love passive income. Everyone should have it! There are no excuses.
6. Do some soft marketing/networking
Even if you know you have another project coming in the pipeline, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to make some new connections. You never know when you’ll need to call on your soft leads.
Join a few Facebook groups where your target market hangs out. Spend some time answering their questions and introducing yourself. do not sell Just be a helper. If someone seems interested in your services, offer to connect further via email.
7. Get out of the house
hey If you’ve been working really hard and all your busy work is over, by all means, get out of the house and enjoy the fruits of your spoils. Go on vacation. Even better if you can figure out a way to write it off as a business expense!
Bonus tip: Automate it
As busy at work, we have many tasks that need to be done day to day. These can be holes in our profit bucket. Waste of time is waste of money. Spend some time looking at how you spend your time each day, and then brainstorm ways you can automate tasks.
Are you at work while working from home? I’d love to hear how you spend your downtime.