Dealing with Freelance Writing Dry Spells

Photo of a stressed man working on a laptop.

No matter how long and how successfully you have been freelance writing, it’s possible to see the assignments stop rolling in. Freelancing dry spells happen even to the best writers out there. Unfortunately, they are especially common for new writers who are trying to establish their careers.

In other words, you’re not alone if all of your pitches seem to be getting shot down or if your inbox is looking decidedly dry. Accepting this scenario and learning how to navigate it is an important part of becoming successful as a freelance writer. If you’re facing down a freelance assignment dry spell, here is what you need to do to get past it.

Don’t Let It Shake Your Confidence

Freelancing pros know that dry spells are temporary. However, new writers can feel seriously shaken when the work stops coming in. In fact, a short dry spell is enough to send many new freelance writers back to their day jobs. After all, they may feel like the dearth of work is a reflection on their skills.

You can’t give into this self-defeating refrain if you’re serious about a freelance writing career. Being a freelance writer is a fulfilling job that puts you in charge of your own professional destiny, but it does come with challenges. It frequently requires a thick skin and plenty of confidence in your ability to deliver quality work. Doubting yourself will make it harder to approach clients, so leave behind the idea that your dry spell is a reflection of your work.

Rethink Your Approach to Clients

Frequently, freelance writers who apply to work on projects offer clients a very stark choice: decide to hire me or decide not to. You may find more success by offering a low-stakes middle ground to clients. Instead of making clients choose whether to bring you onto a project or ignore your pitch, try to set up a video call to discuss the position in more depth.

Many clients will be willing to get on a quick call with you to talk about their project, as long as it feels like an exploratory call rather than a job offer. Once you make the face-to-face connection digitally and get to talk about your work in more detail, you make it easier for the client to decide that you are the best candidate. Even if that is not ultimately the way things play out, making that kind of connection is valuable for networking. It will help to keep you in the client’s mind for future projects.

Think Outside Your Niche

An often-frustrating fact of the freelancing life is that you don’t have any control over what kind of work clients need or when they will need it. As such, you may find occasionally that many of the projects within your writing niche have disappeared. It may feel as if no one is looking for freelancers within your specialization at the moment.

Instead of waiting for your niche to fire back up, dip your toes into other kinds of writing. Maybe you want to experience life as a generalist and try out different kinds of topics. Maybe there is another specialized kind of writing that you want to try, but haven’t had time to explore. Make use of this time outside of your niche to expand your abilities and mix things up a little. You may discover a new favorite topic or style in the process.

Avoid Lowering Your Rates to Fix the Problem

When clients aren’t knocking on your door, you may be tempted to slash your rates to attract them. It is true that the internet is stacked with writers who are willing to work for pennies, but this approach frequently backfires. It is a good way to get stuck in a cycle of low-paying work that you can’t get out of. After all, you have to keep churning out content to pay your bills instead of looking for projects that pay more.

If clients didn’t balk at your rates in the past, don’t cut them in hopes of breaking a dry spell. For quality clients, low rates equal poor writing, so you could drive prospective clients away with a fire sale on your work.

Catch Up on Business Admin

Creating content is only part of your business as a freelance writer. There are other things that need to be done that often fall by the wayside when you’re busy with writing, so now is the perfect time to get caught up. Take a look at your taxes. Make sure you’re putting aside enough money for insurance and retirement savings. Ensure that you don’t have any outstanding invoices.

This is also a good chance to review your portfolio and update it to reflect any newer work you’ve done. If there are professional development classes you’ve been interested in taking or networking events that you want to attend, then take advantage of this time to do so. These things will help you be ready to take on new work when it comes. They may even help you find that first client who breaks your dry spell.

There is a good chance that that client you’re seeking is using Writers Work. We have exclusive job listings on our site and a robust Job Finder that organizes hundreds of openings from across the web in one single place. Our members also get to feature their work in our Writers Marketplace. In the Marketplace, clients can browse your portfolio and contact you directly about projects. This allows you to skip the step of submitting samples and waiting for a reply. If you are dealing with a freelance writing dry spell, why not join our community of writers and see how we can connect you with clients and all of the tools you need for success?

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