What to do when your freelance business seems stuck in a rut

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Ever felt like your freelance business is stuck in a rut? There seems to be no new work coming in, you don’t seem able to move forward with your work, or find any new clients. Perhaps you have been working for the same clients for some years and it’s feeling stale. You want to move forward as a freelancer, but you can’t see a way through. It’s time to think outside the box.

People in employment can feel stuck too. Perhaps they’ve been passed over for promotion, or they feel that their manager never gives them enough credit for the work they do. Either way, they feel stuck and unappreciated and wonder how to free themselves and feel better.

It’s important to understand that it is possible that your emotions will pass, and that all it’s going to take is a new freelance contact from a client, a new networking situation or even a project at work that has gone really well, but equally when you are feeling bored and struggling to get the work done though lack of interest then you need to take action.

Take stock of your situation

Give yourself some thinking time and some space. Choose a day when you don’t have a lot of deadlines coming up and write down 5 things that are good about your work, and 5 things that frustrate you. Be as specific or broad as you wish. What attracted you to your work in the first place? What has made it seem as though it is going wrong. Take a few days and add to the lists if you need to. See if you can work out where things are going wrong.

Decide to make a small change.

The worst thing to do is to keep on doing what you have aways done and expect the result to be different. Finding a way out is not easy, but it is worth trying to do. If you feel that you are fairly clear on where things have gone wrong, and you have an idea to try, then try it. You have nothing to lose and it may help. Decide to try it for a reasonable length of time and make a date in your diary to assess it and whether it has made any kind of impact on your  freelance work or how you feel. Be prepared: this small change may lead to another small change and another. Make sure that you can assess what difference they make to your business.

Ask for help

This can be difficult to do, but it may be the only option. If you are struggling to see what is going wrong, or what you could do to change things, then you may need some help. If you have a friend who is able to understand what you do, and whose opinion you trust, then it may be as simple as arranging to go for a coffee with them to talk things through. Some forums have places where you can ask questions – look for one for people who do what you do as they are more likely to understand your problems. You may need advice from someone who is further along in their business or who has done things differently.

Be accountable to someone

Find someone who you can be accountable to when it comes to getting work done. It’s a way of making sure you get things done when you work on your own. You could also help them to be accountable to their own business. You can decide to check in with them weekly, monthly, or whenever suits you both.

Find a mentor or coach

It may come to the point when you feel that you need more specialised help – and that it’s time to look for a mentor or a coach. Don’t just jump straight in: get to know someone first. Hang around their groups, do something small with them first and see whether their style fits yours. The coaching has got to be within your budget, but it also has to have similar aims to yours. You can take recommendations, or you might just come across someone through another group. It will need to be someone you trust, if you are going to pay them for their help, and you have to feel that you are getting your money’s worth. See it as money that you are investing in your business and use it wisely.

Be prepared to walk away

In the end, it all comes down to whether you can make peace with your freelance business and get it going again. You need to be able to work out what has gone wrong and what steps you need to take to fix it. If you are unable to find your love for your freelance work, then you need to be prepared to walk away and find something else.

It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometimes it may be the right one. Before making such a decision, talk to everyone that it will affect, and make sure that you have taken all the steps you needed to in order to try to make the business work. Businesses fail all the time, the important thing to do is make sure that your mental health does not go down with it.

Have you got to the point where you have felt stuck in a rut and not known what to do? What was your solution to the problem?

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