Freelance Writers: 7 Things You Can Do During Slow Times to Increase Your Earnings

If you’re new to the editorial profession (eg, freelance writing), you may not be aware that it is a seasonal profession. The pattern usually evolves as follows.

Slow Times in Freelance Writing

From mid-June through Labor Day can be pretty dead; although if you’re consistently marketing, you can still be busy. But normally, it’s dead. Proof? If you are a regular reader of a newspaper, ever notice how thin it is during the summer — especially the Help Wanted section?

Then, from mid-November to about the middle-to-end of January — dead zone again. You may have a couple of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas where you’ll get a spike, but normally people are in holiday mode, so things can be slow.

Busy Times for Freelance Writers

Things usually start to pick up again in late January, when the holidays are completely over, the credit card bills start to roll in, and people are once again focused on business (ie, making money). This will last until late May/early June. Slow summer. Then it picks up again after Labor Day and lasts through mid-November.

What is the point in bringing this to your attention? Two reasons. First, relax and enjoy the slow months. When things pick up again, you’ll be glad you took advantage of the down time.

But don’t spend all your time at the beach with a cocktail in your hand; following are seven things you can do to increase your freelance income. When things do heat up again, you’ll be so glad you spent your time wisely.

7 Things You Can Do During the Slower Summer Months to Earn More

One of the things I like to do is what I call preparatory or foundational work; and also, “creation” work, ie, creating new products and/or servces. Following are some ideas from both categories you can do to propel your freelance business to the next level.

1. Create a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is simply something you use to entice visitors to subscribe to your email list/newsletter. And you do have one, don’t you? In my case, as a writer, I wrote a free ebook detailing how I’ve managed to make a living completely online, and how you can do it too. It’s free to suscribers who sign up to my newsletter here on Inkwell Editorial.

I put this off and put this off and put this off — literally for years! So finally getting it done was a major achievement. Years later, that ebook (which I’ve updated a couple of times), still works to bring in subscribers.

Favor? If you find this info useful, please take a sec to share it on Pinterest. It’s super easy; all you have to do is click the red “Save” button that appears on the graphic just below. Thanks!

2. Sign Up with an Email List Management Service

If you don’t have a subscriber list, well now’s the time to get one! This is another thing I procrastinated on because learning a new software, and how to maneuver around it can be a pain. Also, you don’t see an immediate benefit, like getting a sale of an ebook or ecourse.

But boy, is it ever critical to your success as a freelancer. Even if you’re not selling anything right now, start building your list from DAY ONE.

If you do decide to one day write an ebook, create an ecourse, start promoting products and services as an affiliate marketer, etc., you’ll have some prospects to start marketing to. And if you’ve gone through the trouble of paying for and putting up a website, I assume you did so to make money, right?

Well the next step in the process is to capture information from as many site visitors as you can. You didn’t do all the work of getting a blog, writing content, getting people to come visit — and NOT get some contact info.

That would be like opening a brick-and-mortar business and not having a way to ring people up when they want to buy something. Crazy, right? Not having a subscriber list/email opt-in option — just as crazy.

Critical Info to Pay Attention to When Setting Up Your AWeber Account

FYI, I use and recommend AWeber; been with them since 2009. Here’s a tutorial on how to set up your account there. Be sure to see the section about setting up your contact address (Section I). It’s something a lot of newbies are unaware of, but it’s critical to keeping your privacy online.

3. Create an Email Auto Responder Series

Once you sign up with an email list management service, the next step is to create a series of emails that will go out automatically. These willl help you make money while you sleep. How?

Quite simply, you write emails that go out automatically over a pre-determined time. These emails can contain links to affiliate products and servcies you promote directly; and/or link back to blog posts on your site that talk about products and/or services you offer, which some will buy.

And get this, you can schedule a weeks, months or a year or more worth of auto responders to be going out. And, as your list grows, that’s more eyeballs on your content, your offers, your products and services. If you’ve attracted the right kind of subscribers (another reason a good lead magnet is essential), you will make sales.

Via my internet marketing site, I’ve had subscribers buy products and I go, “Hmm, where’d that affiliate sale come from; I don’t remember promoting that recently.” Then I remember, “Oh, they must have finally got sent that email in my auto response sequence that promotes this product.

20 Free Copy-and-Paste Email Templates You Can Use

I call them a “plug and play” auto responder series because all you have to do is copy and paste the content into your email sequence, and you’re good to go. Creating an effective auto responder series simply doesn’t get any easier.

4. Create a Free Ecourse / Webinar

E-learning has really taken off in the last few years, and as the internet is not about to go anywhere (ever!), it’s a new way of learning that’s becoming mainstream. So why not capitalize on it to create a free ecourse? You can use this as a lead magnet, and/or as a pre-sell to a more expensive course.

In April of 2017, I migrated all of Inkwell Editorial’s ecourses over to the Teachable platform. It’s free to get started with them, and it delivers your course material in a professional format that makes you look like one of the “big boys/girls” online.

Before I signed up with them, I was delivering all of my courses via pdf files. I did it this way for years — and I’m not complaining. I made a lot of money off my courses delivering them this way. But the professionalism of the way the material looks now in Teachable compared to then is completely different. It’s way better. Also, students no longer have to wait for me to email them material; they can log into their “class” any time they want from their own secure portal, and access lessons 24/7/365.

It also makes updating the material and distributing it easy. Once updated, all students have to do is log in to see the info. I no longer have to send out more emails giving them the updated version. So it’s just been an awesome investment all the way around.

5. Upgrade Your Skills

Want to earn more as a freelancer? Then invest in a class to upgrade your skills. I’ve been freelancing since 1993. In 2007, I learned how to write SEO content. It catapulted me into the next stratosphere. In 2008, I opened the doors of my own online writing company (NewMediaWords.biz); started producing and marketing my own products; and got serious about affiliate marketing.

If I’d never learned how to write search engine-optimized (SEO) content, none of this would have been possible. Knowing SEO taught me how to effectively market online, which opened up a whole new world of opportunities. Nowadays, if I never land another freelance writing gig, I can fully support myself from my three other income streams, ie: affiliate marketing, ecourse sales, and self-publishing, which brings me to my next tip.

6. Self-Publish a Book

I advise every freelance writer to self-publish at least one book. Why? Because as a writer, there’s never been a better time to make money in publishing — without the hassle of trying to get a traditional book deal.

To date, I’ve self-published close to 100 ebooks — fiction and non-fiction. I started self-publishing in 2002, long before “self-publishing” was a thing. One month, I earned almost $4,000 — just from my fiction alone (romance novellas).

Self-Publishing Tip: Some genres are hotter than others, eg, I write interracial romance novellas (short novels of between 10,00 and 30,000 words usually). They can sell like hotcakes!

Related Post: How to Make Money Writing Romance — Pretty Good Money

FYI, self-publishing is what allowed me to really stop being so dependent on freelance writing for the bulk of my income. Today, that’s my main income stream. But if writing books to sell is not your thing, write one anyway. Why? You can use it to bolster your credibility as a freelance writer.

For example, if you’re a finance writer, you can publish a boook on how to save for retirement, or how to get out of debt, etc. Put it on your site. Then in your credentials, you can say, “Jane Doe: Finance Writer, and author of “The Best Little Book On How to Get Out of Debt You’ll Ever Read” (or whatever your title is). There’s just someting about having “author” in your credentials that makes people stand up and take notice.

I personally think it’s because most don’t have the discipline to finish a book, so people are kinda in awe of those who do. You owe it to yourself as a freelance writer to do this. Even if you never publish another book, you’ll forver be able to say, “I wrote a book; I’m the author of _____.

Where to Publish Your Book Tip:Amazon is the most lucrative outlet for self-publishers. You’ll hear people rail against it online (and many of the dissenters are right), but I’ve been publishing with them since 2009, and by far, besides my own website (for my non-fiction sales), they remain the #1 outlet for making sales, especially for fiction.

7. Update/ Revise Materials

When was the last time you updated your resume/professional profile? Now’s a good time to do that. Add in:

  • Those new skills you learned;
  • That great new client you worked with who allowed you to penetrate a new niche;
  • Those results achieved from a case study reprot you wrote for a client;
  • That great ne writing sample that landed you higher-paying clients;
  • Etc.

Resume Tips for Editorial Professionals

FYI, if you’re looking for a job while continuing to freelance, there are some great resume tips geared specifically toward the editorial industry on this site. I hope you find them helpful.

Bonus Tip

If you’re trying to get another online income stream going (besides writing for clients), the #1 thing you’re egoing to need is site traffic. Pinterest is an EXCELLENT way to drive thousands of ready-to-buy visitors to your blog. So, spend some time learning how to master Pinterest.

I grew my site traffic by thousands in just a couple of months — initially with no social media tools. Get full details on how I did it. Once you start getting a ton of traffic, there are a gazllion ways to monetize it. Then boy, talk about income freedom. You can so do this!


As you can see, there’s a LOT you can do during the slow summer months to increase your income throughout the year. When the busy fall season rolls around, all you’ll have to do — besides work your patootie off because of the success of your efforts — is bask in the glow of the dough rolling into your account(s). 🙂

Note: This post was originally published in July of 2001. It was entitled, “The Work-Flow Cycle of the Editorial Industry.” It was updated and republished in 2017.

P.S.: Serious about Starting a Freelance Business that Makes REAL Money? You Need a Website/Blog. Learn why and how to start one.

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    1. […] freelance writing tends to be a cyclical profession — just like many others. Here is the workflow cycle of the editorial industry. […]

    2. […] Freelance writing is a cyclical industry. Many who have been freelanced for years may not even be aware of the problem. Why is it important to know this? Because you can increase your freelance writing income during the slow summer months by being proactive. […]

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