What does January mean to you? Detox diets, booze-free Fridays and penny pinching? Cold nights (and days), grey skies and wishing spring to arrive?
Well, for me and every other freelancer out there, it means all these things and more, because January is famously known as the month of the freelance famine.
What is the freelance famine?
I started Natasha Al-Atassi Copywriting Services properly in January 2015, so I naively thought the quiet month was simply the result of getting the company up and running and trying to a make a name for myself. What I didn’t realise was that the silence I experienced last year would, most likely, repeat itself year-in-year-out.
And I’m not alone – after a quick search online, I found hundreds of freelancers united over their complaints about January, dry for them in so many ways. It seems this month is simply a slow-go for all freelancers, whether you’re a copywriter like me, a musician, a videographer, a beautician or whatever.
If there’s anything more depressing than the end of Christmas, it’s knowing the famine is on its way as well.
Why is January so slow?
It turns out there are many reasons why January is so slow, which is why it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise when the emails stopped rolling in.
- Tax deadline
The first is it’s tax deadline month. The loom of January 31st hangs over bigger businesses just as much as it does freelancers, and companies try to conserve their spending to pay for their large annual tax bill at the end of the month.
That means anything unnecessary is ditched – and this includes us freelancers, at least until after tax day.
- Post-Christmas saving
Everyone overspends in December, whether it’s because of too many nights out and costly presents, or you’re a big business that purged a fortune on expensive Christmas parties and prize-giving ceremonies.
Come January, therefore, everyone is tightening their belts, and this has a knock-on effect for you and me. If your clients’ customers aren’t spending, your client won’t have the money coming in and, subsequently, they can’t afford to pay freelancers.
This is all part of the financial food chain, and how much consumers are spending at any given time directly impacts how much work you will receive. While spending drops, so will your work.
- No-one holidays in January
Do you find yourself getting busier at popular holiday times, such as during the summer or over Christmas? Well, there’s a reason for this. It’s because companies have fewer staff during these periods and that’s why they outsource copywriting freelancers.
However, unless you’re Simon Cowell who needs a month-long break in the Bahamas after The X Factor has finished, you’ll probably find most people stay at home during January, fighting the rubbish weather and post-Christmas diet without a hint of sunshine or a rum cocktail in sight.
And because of this, businesses don’t need to outsource their content as all their staff are in the office.
There’s not much you can do about this except wait it out and hope ski season and the half-term holiday give your famine a much-needed break.
Although, next year I think I’ll go on holiday.
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