things to do when you have no clients

Let’s not beat around the bush here: not having any freelance clients sucks – and not just because of the financial aspect.

Granted, the financial status of your freelancing business keeps food on the table. Being a freelancer, you can only get that cash if you’ve got clients (aka the people giving you it!).

But, having no clients also causes other problems. For me, that’s a lack of focus, passion and determination for my business.

If you’re anything like me, you’re more motivated when you’ve got work to do. I hate sitting around, knowing some of the non-client work I’m doing, isn’t bringing in any money… Especially if I’m running low on cash, as it is.

These dry periods where clients are sparse can happen often, but they don’t have to make your entire business crash and burn!

Instead, view that “boring” time as space to do something else; something that’ll grow your business in the long-term, like:

9 Things to Do When You Have No Clients

Images from my favourite guys at HauteStock!

1. Update your website

Websites are any business’ virtual home. It’s where all of their marketing attempts should direct people to, and as a freelancer, it’s often where you’ll get the majority of your enquiries.

Websites aren’t future-proof, though. We can only add the information that we have at present, right?

When you’ve got no clients, use that extra time to spruce up your website with the things you’ve learned since it was originally published. That includes:

About pages

Have you learnt a new skill since your About page was published? Perhaps you need to add two years to your age, or you want to let people know about a recent experience that changed your life.

Whatever it is, think about whether you could add it to the About page of your website.

This page is often the most-visited page on a freelancer’s website because people want to know about you, just as much as your brand. So, give people the chance and share your (updated) story!

Always make sure that your #freelancing website is up-to-date - especially these pages! Click To Tweet

Service pages

You could also think about refreshing another important page on your freelancing website: your services page.

This is where a prospective client will come to grab more information about your business. You need to make it shine and sell yourself!

Service pages often have different elements to help make a sale. From portfolio samples to testimonials, can you add anything else that might make a potential visitor want to work with you?

Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  • Ask your past clients for testimonials and add them to your page
  • Add your latest writing pieces to boost your portfolio
  • OR write a completely new sample!

9 Things to Do When You Have No Clients

2. Make a new freelancing friend

Freelancing is lonely. In fact, loneliness is something that I struggle with massively.

It’s not uncommon for me not to see another human (other than my boyfriend) for days on end. I’ve even been ecstatic about going to the car wash at 8pm, just because I needed to see that the world I knew, still existed.

While you might not go to that level of drama, you still might suffer from loneliness. It’s normal. You work from home!

When you’ve got some downtime and are looking for things to do when you’ve got no clients, consider making new friends.

Unlike the real world where you might be seen as ‘weird’ if you respond to something that a stranger says without already being in conversation with them, it’s super easy – and beneficial – to make online friends.

You could find freelancing friends:

Just hit ‘Reply’ and start a conversation. Or, send them an email and let them know that you love what they’re doing online.

Try and keep up these relationships. Talk to your new buddies about the struggles you’re having as a freelancer, and it’ll help combat the awful feeling of loneliness.

If you've got downtime in between clients, use that time to do one of these 9 things: Click To Tweet

3. Create a product

Recently, I had some downtime in between clients. So, I did something that’s been on my to-do list for ages… Create a new product!

Without giving you a sales pitch, my first product launched just a few days ago. It’s an email template for freelancers, and you can view the full shebang here.

Anyway, back to the point.

Creating a product in your downtime helps you to get over the one thing you might be concerned about: money. Clients are the only thing that’ll help you put food on the table, right?

Wrong! Products can help you to do that. And, unlike freelancing, your time doesn’t directly relate to the money you earn.

Let me explain:

As a freelance writer, I tend to earn about £60 – £80 per hour. It took me ten hours to put together my product. If I was freelancing, that’d have earned me £800 – and not a penny more.

The beauty of creating products is that although you aren’t paid immediately, the time you spent is paid back over time. As soon as I break even on that monetary time, it’s all bonus cash.

Plus, there’s no limit on how much you make from your products.

Double-plus, if they’re evergreen, they can be sold forever – making money years after you made them!

9 Things to Do When You Have No Clients

4. Start pitching

If you’re not ready to start creating your first products, don’t worry. There’s still a nifty way that you can kerb your money worries: by pitching and finding more clients.

In my guide to writing a freelance writing pitch, I mentioned the seven things that all pitching emails should include.

So, have a read through and redefine your pitch. Make sure that it contains everything a prospective client may want to know, and consider split-testing to see which style works best.

I like to find clients to pitch-to by using directories, such as Angel.

Search for your niche in the search box, and click-through to see if any of those listed might need your services. If they do, fire off a pitch!

Got no clients to work on? Start guest posting and get your name out there! Click To Tweet

5. Submit guest posts

What better way to spend downtime than promoting yourself?

Guest posts are a fantastic way to get your name out there. They’re perfect for putting you directly in front of people who might be looking for your services, so use them as a promotion tactic.

And, it lets you build your credibility – which for freelancers, is essential.

Start your guest posting strategy by creating a list of sites that you ideal customer reads.

For example, social media writers might add Social Media Today to their target list.

Then, get your thinking cap on. What content could you write for this site that’d make your ideal customer click onto the article?

Once you’ve done that, send your ideas to their editor. If they’re happy and see your article pitch as suitable for their audience, they’ll ask you to write it. You’ll be on there in no time!

9 Things to Do When You Have No Clients

6. Refine your client processes

Think about the day-to-day things that you do in your business.

Is there a way to automate the things you spend the most time on? 

Our time is money, but automating boring (or complex) processes can make sure that the fun isn’t sucked out of you. Plus, when you do have clients to work on, it won’t feel so manic.

Here are some automations that I like to set-up, to save time as a freelancer:

  • Canned responses: If there’s an email that I get frequently, I write a canned response and spend 5 seconds editing it, before sending.
  • Email marketing: Instead of manually checking and updating subscriber information, I use ConvertKit’s automations to do that for me.
  • On-boarding: I’ve got a client questionnaire that all new enquiries need to fill-in. I send a link to this automatically whenever somebody emails me to discuss my services.

Once you’ve spent the time putting these automations into place, you’ll find yourself running a streamlined (and less hectic) business.

If you've got downtime in your biz, think about setting up automations to prep for busy periods! Click To Tweet

7. Refresh old blog content

You’re probably sick to death of me harping on about the importance of a blog, but hear me out!

Having a blog is essential. Why? Because it proves your skill (writing), lets people find you, and gives you a real good chance of ranking for search terms that people looking to hire you are searching for.

That being said, if you do run a blog to support your freelance writing website, don’t let the content you publish go to waste.

It can be easy to forget about the hours you put into last month’s blog posts, but they’re great bits of content to reel an ideal client in with!

For that reason, taking time to refresh your old content is a great way to spend downtime in between clients. You could:

  • Change images
  • Add affiliate links
  • Improve your writing and sentence structures
  • Add SEO optimisation

Each of these tasks will help your blog to become the powerhouse it should be.

You’ll be able to rest knowing that the content is up to your ever-improving standard, and anyone landing on the page will have an awesome first impression of you and your site – even if the article is six months old.

9 Things to Do When You Have No Clients

8. Take a course

No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always something to learn. From your personal life to a skill that’d benefit your freelancing career, you could use downtime to take a new course.

Enrol in a new course that will teach you a new skill, or help you to develop one you already have.

Here are some courses and resources that I LOVE, and will always recommend for freelancers with their own blog:

Pinfinite Growth: I mentioned earlier that your old content shouldn’t go to waste. In this course, you can learn how to maximise your Pinterest account and ensure that once you’re done updating old content, it’ll be visible to your target audience.

The Blog Startup: In this book, email marketing expert Meera Kothand will teach you the best strategies to plan, launch and grow your blog within 90 days.

Influencer Marketing Masterclass: As a freelancer or blogger, you can use influencers in your niche to boost the exposure of your work. In this course, Zoe will teach you how to do that.

The course you’re enrolling in might be classed as a business expense, making your tax more affordable when that time comes around!

Wondering what to do with your day when client work is done? Here are 9 ideas! Click To Tweet

9. Create multiple income streams

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that products are a great way to bring in cash when you’re low on client work.

You can take that a step further by dedicating time to diversify your income streams.

This can be done by using different techniques – and just like courses, they could give you a consistent revenue stream if you put the time in to set them up!

Here are a couple of income streams that are popular with freelancers and bloggers:

  • Affiliate marketing: Whereby you make a commission for selling someone else’s products online
  • Coaching services: If you’re successful in a certain area, share your secrets!
  • Products: Can you create something that’d be valuable for your audience?
  • Revenue shares: Consider starting a new business venture with a fellow freelancer, and split whatever profits you make

As you can see, downtime and waiting for clients doesn’t have to be a soul-sucking period.

Instead of twiddling your thumbs, get started on one of these activities. They’re all designed to help you get more clients and/or money, so you don’t have to feel guilty!

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. View my full disclosure here.

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