Being a freelancer/ sole trader/ entrepreneur is very much a rollercoaster ride. There are moments in the year when I've worked 20 days in a row, sometimes as many as 12 hours a day plus travel. The work is flowing and the money is great but it certainly takes its toll if you don't remain healthy and get plenty of sleep.
Then there are times when I've had a solid 3 weeks off without any work coming in and I've heard stories of some people having gaps as large as 6 months. I thought I'd write some tips for making the most of the down time and some of things I like to do. (This article isn't about finding work)
1. Go travelling - December, January and February is typically a quiet time for production work in the UK. It's cold, wet and dark. One year I decided to up sticks and travel around Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks with my girlfriend. I dived the great barrier reef, climbed the Sydney Harbour bridge, sunbathed on Bondi beach, bungee jumped and went canyoning as well as making some wicked friends and drinking my body weight in beer.
Overall a great experience and I probably missed out on one days work. I try and book trips/ holidays around work same as most people and it was great to get away from the British winter for a bit. You don't have to go all out on a big back packing trip but you'll be surprised how revitalized you'll feel after experiencing a different culture during a city break.
2. Visit friends and family - This sounds obvious but it can be very hard to keep up with friends and family when you're working so much. During the down time I like to do the rounds and try and catch up with as many people as possible.
3. Hit the gym - Not only will hitting the gym make you feel amazing as the endorphins surge through your body but you'll find that you're fitter and healthier so when the work is crazy busy you'll be able to keep going for longer. I don't obsess about it but I try and visit the gym once a week when I'm busy and 2-3 times when I'm quiet.
4. Revisit your website - I really enjoy working on my website but I understand it's a chore for some people keeping everything up to date. That's what your quiet periods are for. You now have the time to update that show reel that's 2 years out of date or write that blog post about your favorite coffee.
Whilst you're here you might as well check out my shiny new show reel:
5. Visit the cinema at 11am - We've already mentioned that it's crappy weather outside. Maybe you don't fancy braving the elements but have you ever thought about catching the latest Marvel movie at 11am during the week?
It's dead as you can imagine and you can have an entire row to yourself. I have an unlimited cinema pass for Cineworld and try and catch most new releases. Some people think going to the cinema alone is sad but who is talking during a movie anyway? (You'll be getting a handful of popcorn in your face if you do)
6. Network - On a more proactive note you should try to meet up with new people in your field. Most of my work is referral based and the saying 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' is very true. There are tons are Facebook groups out there with similar like minded people who I'm sure would love to meet up for a coffee and a chat. I put a post out on the Northern Freelance group during December and ended up meeting 13 new film crew members.
7. Side hustle - If you want to be more productive with your time and continue the money flowing in there's a few things you can do to make some extra money that doesn't necessarily require your full time attention. These include: trading shares, selling old kit or personal belongings on eBay, become an amazon associate, monetise a youtube channel and share some of that knowledge and sell stock footage.
My point in all this is that as a freelancer we are living the dream of having ultimate freedom to be able to do what we want when we want. Sometimes that gets forgotten and you can sometimes find yourself working a 9-5 and living for the weekend. Lets make the most of our rollercoaster ride and try not to throw up!