10 ways freelancers can get ahead during a January downtime

10 ways to get ahead during a downtime

Don’t get sad. Get productive.

So, we’re half way through January and it’s a bit quiet. Are you feeling the downtime?

It feels like every interior stylist on Instagram is busy with shoots and features and you’re sitting there twiddling your thumbs hoping that the elusive first job of the year is on it’s way. Don’t worry. It is! I hardly ever shoot in January – if I’m being completely honest, and it’s been like that for more years than I care to remember. So, I’ve learnt not to panic and to just get on with other time sucking activities I normally don’t have time for.

What to do.

It’s important to get perspective and enjoy your quiet periods as much as when the money’s rolling in.  These are my 10 ways to get productive in January and still win the year.

  1. Take some time out to do something you love.

    This is the perfect time to visit those friends who’ve moved to the Midlands, take long country walks, sleep in late, binge-watch box sets but not for too long. We’re talking R&R here not full blown depression where you don’t want to get out of bed. This is a time for looking after yourself and nurturing your soul. That might sound a tad mumbo jumbo but when our lives are usually on full speed ahead taking time to stop is essential!

  2. Keep ahead of trends and designs.

    How many times have you promised yourself a long visit to The Design Centre Chelsea Harbour to really see what’s new in the world of fabrics and wallpapers? There are so many new designs and sometimes it’s just better to get out there, meet the people behind he brands, hear the stories behind the new collections and see just how soft those velvet damasks really are.

  3. Really get out and about

    There’s nothing like visiting a gallery, art exhibition, events or meetups for getting inspired whether that’s seeing new colour combinations in a renaissance piece of art at The National Gallery or checking our Tim Walker at The V&A. Get outdoors, see new things, speak to new people. You never know who you’ll meet and where it’ll lead to.

  4. Update your Inside Stylists profile/website, LinkedIn/Instagram?Facebook profiles 

    How many times have you said “I must add my latest work to my Inside Stylists profile /website?  Now’s the time to do it. And what about your LinkedIn profile? Is that up to date with all you are doing? Do you know that’s where prs hang out? So, go update and show everyone what you’re good at and why they should be booking you.
    Go check out Interior Stylists, Writers and Assistants profile pages on Inside Stylists HERE 

  5. Connect with past clients 

    When’s the last time you picked up the phone to chat with a past client? You never know what they’re working on and you might just time your call right. And don’t email – emails are far to easy to ignore, and you can’t get your fabulous personality over in an email like you do with a chat.

    Don’t know what to say other than

    “Plleeeassse book me so I don’t starve to death!”

    How about asking for a testimonial for your website, find out what they’re working on at the moment that you might be able to feature in the future

  6. Go for coffee

    I’ve said it before but catching up with a pr is such a great way to spend a morning. Even if you don’t have a feature lined up. If you have a blog you have a great outlet to share all their brand’s products and they’ll love meeting up with you and sharing what’s new.

    Likewise, meeting a stylist or writer friend for coffee is a great way to reassure you that everyone has quiet periods. You are not alone!

  7. Update your rate card. 

    Still the best piece of paperwork in my freelance business. Having a rate card makes talking about money super easy. Use this quiet downtime to add any new and impressive clients you’ve worked for recently.

    Not sure how to create a rate card? Listen to this podcast: Rate Card Podcast Episode 046

  8. Learn something new

    Just for fun or to widen your horizon. Maybe it’s life classes, pottery, how to cook Italian meals. Or calligraphy that you can use on a shoot, digital marketing – so you can understand better the way the online world is working. Whatever it is go and change your perspective on your world – even if it’s just for one day.

  9. Get organised

    And I’m not talking about throwing out old press releases and look books- although that will certainly help. No, I’m talking do the filing -personal and work (I’m not the only one with a growing pile of filing am I?). Clean up your desktop/mac/photos/emails – any digital clean up will make your devices run faster and you’ll be able to find everything so much quicker and easier. Those look books and clients product sheets add up to a lot of unused storage.

  10. Tidy your swatch /prop/bookshelves

    Remember when you were just starting out and doing work experience and you got asked to go and tidy the prop cupboard? How good did it feel afterwards? That is what I’m talking about. Get new storage boxes for your props and get them sorted. If you have a ton of fabric/wallpaper/carpet/tile samples sort them out. Do your books fit on your shelves or are they piling up high on the floor? Now is the perfect time to give some to charity.

    Tidying and organising is like therapy. It’s been proven to lift your mood (Just ask Marie Kondo) If you’re feeling down about not being booked right now – go tidy!


So, what do you think? Are you ready to get busy? Do you have tried and tested way to get ahead during a downtime? Then let us know by leaving a comment below.

Till next time bye for now – and stay productive.

Em x

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