Business slow?

It’s time to get busy.

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So the bursting of the housing bubble that led to the credit freeze that led to the stock market sell-off that led to companies cutting back on spending that led to the recession has now trickled down to freelancers like us. Which means you may have noticed your invoices are getting paid later, your projects are being downsized or cancelled, and client requests for proposals for new work are slowing to a trickle.

What a great opportunity.

Economic downturns come and go – and when they come, it’s a great time to finally take care of all those things you were putting off when you were busy making money. So, here are my three recommendations for how you can prepare for the next big upswing. When the phone starts ringing once again, you’ll be ready.

1) Revamp Your Marketing

Now is the time to force yourself to finally update your reel, refresh website and redesign your business cards. Perhaps you need a new logo or even a whole new corporate identity. Just do it. The next time a client asks to see your reel, you won’t have to make excuses about how it’s missing all the great work you’ve done in the past 18 months.

2) Keep in Touch

First, reach out to all of your existing clients to just check in and say hello. Show them your reel you just updated or send them your new business card. Constant contact keeps you top of mind so when they finally have a new project, they’ll think of you first.

Then, grow your network. Leverage business and social networking sites like Linked In and Facebook. Attend conferences and collect business cards. Go to user group meetings. Get your face and your name out there while you have time. You’ll likely find the next person you’ll hire to help you with a large project, or the person who will hire you.

3) Enhance Your Skills

How long have you been meaning to improve your After Effects, Motion, or Photoshop skills – or learn a 3D application? It’s a tremendously competitive marketplace and we all have to train continuously, but we rarely do when we are busy working. Upgrade your software. Buy a book, download a video training, or take a class. Personally, I’ve been learning Cinema4D, and I’ve already used it on job that needed some real 3D incorporated into a motion graphics piece.

It may seem counter-intuitive to spend more money when you are making less money, but investing in your business is one of the best things you can do. If you spend this economic down cycle cleaning up your marketing, maintaining and growing your network, and building your skill set, you’ll be well positioned to take best advantage of the next upswing.

Mark Spencer is a bay area-based freelance producer, editor, teacher and writer. He is an Apple-certified Final Cut Studio instructor, the author of the Apple Pro Training Series book Motion Graphics and Visual Effects in Final Cut Studio from Peachpit Press, and the host of the Ripple Training training videos Motion 3 Fast Forward and Motion 3 Deep Dive.


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Mark Spencer

Mark Spencer is a freelance producer, videographer, editor, trainer and writer based in the Bay Area. He produces Final Cut Pro X-related training and plugins for with his partners at Ripple Training. He is an Apple-certified Master Trainer, and consults for corporations and individuals. He is the author or co-author of a half-dozen books on motion graphics and editing from Peachpit Press and writes for ProVideo Coalition. He maintains www.applemotion.net, a resource for Motion. Mark has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.