Even if you’re a networking meistro, there will often be times when you have little or no commissioned work coming in. It’s easy to take this as a confidence knock or grab the chance for an un-scheduled holiday, but this free time can be used productively to further your career.
From working on your dream project to learning new skills, your time is your own to use as much or as little of as you choose.
Here are ten ideas to put to use in order to use your extra time productively:
1. Make a Plan
Back when you started out, was there an end goal you had in mind that has got lost among the day-to-day work? Perhaps you have a new goal but it seems far away or almost impossible. Now time is on you side, why not make a plan of action for the next week, month or year to help you get closer to achieving it.
2. Do What you Dream of Doing
While you’ve been knuckling down and working hard for other people, has there been something in the back of your mind you’d love to be doing? Now is the time to start that graphic novel, draw that comic or create that amazing typeface. Even if it is out of your usual area, your personal work could spark off new ideas and techniques to use in the future.
3. Learn a New Skill
Whether it’s on the computer or using paints, is there anything you’ve ever wished you knew how to do? From making vector badges on Illustrator to how to paint snow, there are tutorials available online to help you do almost anything.
4. Try New Ways of Self-Promotion
Aside from social networking, there are many other ways to promote yourself and drum up business. Try contributing an article including links to your work to an article site, create an exciting item or product to give away in a competition, or send out promotional postcards to your contact list.
5. Contact Someone You’d Like to Work With
Send out an email introducing yourself to an artist or writer you’d like to collaborate with, or get talking to an organization or company. You may not set up a job straight away, but you can establish a dialogue and get your name out there.
6. Write a Guest Post for a Blog in your Industry
A great way to be seen as an expert in your field, a guest post including your link will provide ongoing traffic to your site. Show off your knowledge to the community and get your name and links on sites with high visitor numbers.
7. Re-Visit your Portfolio
If you’ve just come out of a busy period, chances are you’ve not had chance to update your portfolio in a while. Is there anything missing from it – a new skill you can show off and market yourself with, and does the work already in it still really represent you as a creative?
8. Do Some Research
Although it’s a given that you’re interested in the field you’re working in as a creative professional, it’s worth taking the time to immerse yourself in the work of others. This is useful not only as an opportunity to check out the competition but also to see where your field is heading. See who’s new and what’s popular and what you can take from that to boost your own work.
9. Try Creating Stock Images
There are numerous sites out there you can submit your work to, and not only will they keep you in the creative mind set, but you could earn a little money off them too. Check out what’s trending in the news and what gaps there are in the market to make your work more likely to sell.
10. Give your Workspace a Clean Up Blitz
Remember that idea you had a few weeks back? You wrote it down but it’s now lost in the mess on your desk. Organize your workspace and not only will you find all sorts you thought you’d lost, but when you start your next project everything will feel a lot less hectic.