Do you ever fall asleep on an airplane only to wake up when the wheels hit the tarmac? In a mental fog, you’re thoroughly flummoxed by the realization that you’ve arrived at your destination.
I feel the same way as I sit here in mid-October and look back at the summer. I rub my eyes. I think, “Where did the time go?” “How did I get here?”
Prior to starting my writing business, I’d heard tell of the “Summer Slowdown,” when many creative firms and indie professionals found that business tapered off. And sure enough, I’ve come to recognize that pattern in my own workflow: After a busy first and second quarters, projects came more slowly in July and August. And then …
On the Tuesday after Labor Day, the phone started ringing (or, rather, the e-mails started flowing in) with new projects. In just he first few weeks of fall, I’ve:
- helped my good friends at Rule29 in Chicagoland redevelop the content for their shiny new website
- worked with the team at Enrich Creative in St. Louis to write copy for their new business development campaign
- contributed short pieces to Cincinnati Magazine’s annual “Best of the City” issue … including a profile on the city’s best local bacon. Yes. It’s a difficult job.
- developed original recipes for a new customer magazine for Kroger.
- begun leading the content marketing strategy for the 2014 HOW Design Live event next May in Boston. (If you’re a creative pro, this should absolutely be on your radar. HOW’s taking a rad new approach to the program and has landed some superstar speakers.)
We who own small businesses understand that there’s a natural ebb and flow to our workloads. Assuming that we’re doing the marketing work required to prevent those “feast or famine” scenarios when there’s absolutely nothing on the horizon, we have to get comfortable with the fact that sometimes we’re less busy. And that’s OK.
In fact, that slowdown is essential — it offers opportunity for us to take a break, to rejuvenate, to work on our own projects. In addition to playing several midweek rounds of golf in July and August, I worked with the immensely talented designer Jill Anderson to overhaul my recipe website, writes4food.com. I skipped a couple of months with my own marketing newsletter, but I updated my online portfolio. I read books related to my work (Michael Pollan’s excellent “Cooked”) and not (Dan Brown’s page-turner “Inferno.”)
Two and a half years into running a small creative business, I’m finally seeing those ebb/flow patterns. And I’m giving myself permission to do my own stuff — or heck, to knock off early — when things slow down.
What about you? How do you fill those quieter, non-billable hours? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Speaking of writes4food.com … I invite you to check out my newly redesigned recipe website, with better searchability, new recipes and a fresh new look!