Tips for Freelancers to Stay Busy Between Jobs

Posted on: May 12, 2023

A woman woman wearing headphones indoors looking at freelance jobs on her laptop.Photo Credit: FilippoBacci / iStock

By Gabrielle Glenn

Freelancing has been a source of income for me since I began years ago, and although it lacks the stability of a staff job, it’s one of the only paths that has afforded me the ability to create content, get paid well for it, and travel.

Here’s how I deal with the uncertainty, maintain optimism, and create earning potential for myself during the lean times between jobs:

1. Manage Your Finances

Get organized
Nothing dashes post-gig bliss than worrying about money. The first thing you’ll need to do after wrapping a gig is to get your final check. Make sure you have the check stub either in-hand or electronically, and that the latest deposit has hit your bank account. Once you have your final check stub, upload it to a safe file that’s easily accessible for you.

Balance your checkbook and make sure you have a clear idea of which bills will be automatically deducted from your accounts. Some common ones include utilities, subscriptions, and investments. I prefer to track my expenses and investments in Excel or apps like Mint so I can see where I’m spending.

File for unemployment
Having a final check stub also helps when you file for unemployment. The unemployment application will need the name, address, and final weekly gross payment of your last job.

Please make sure all the information you input is accurate. If not, it will delay the approval process. It could take up to two months to have a scheduled phone call with an EDD claims professional to determine which mistake you made, and if you’re still eligible for unemployment. I was without income, including unemployment, for two months. Let me tell you, I’ve learned my lesson and now check my applications multiple times in order to receive unemployment in a timely fashion.

Keep in mind that the week you apply for unemployment isn’t the week you start getting checks. There’s a one-week waiting period where no benefits are paid to you.

Find a ‘between gigs’ friendly job
Perhaps you haven’t found your next gig—even though you’ve been looking—or maybe you’re not ready to jump back into the high-octane world of producing television.

Although you may have savings, you may not want to spend it. A popular alternative is to look for a lower-stakes job that keeps your bills paid, while allowing you to develop skills to enhance your creative career.

Here are some alternative streams of income:

  • Temping. A simple Google search: “Temp Agencies + Your Neighborhood” should reveal names of temp agencies in your area you can reach out to. Bolster your resume using organizational skills you’ve learned on creative jobs.
  • Short-term creative gigs. These types of gigs not only keep money coming in, they also force creatives to flex muscles needed to develop their craft. Sites like Hubstaff, or reaching out to publications and pitching them articles is a great place to start. Sites like Medium and Staff Me Up hire freelance writers.

2. Create a Healthy Routine

It might be tempting to lay in bed all day and binge your favorite show, but instead of giving in to the temptation to be lazy, I recommend instead opting for physical activity. Even walking your neighborhood for as little as 15 minutes a day can help to alleviate anxiety and manage weight. It’s an accessible form of exercise, and more than 6 in 10 people walk for transportation or for fun.

Being temporarily unemployed is a great time to check in with your health and schedule any follow-up appointments. It’s also helpful to schedule time to be in nature, sleep, or read your favorite book. Resting is just as important for your progress as productivity. Sometimes, doing absolutely nothing can be great for your health!

3.Embed Learning and Creativity Into Your Everyday

Looking for work, networking and learning skills can feel like a part-time job, but are crucial aspects toward long-term success.

Being in between gigs is a great time to pick up a new skill. Pick one day for at least a couple of hours to tackle a YouTube tutorial or take an in-person or online class. Give yourself time to conquer one skill at a time, and don’t try to do too much at once. That’s an almost guaranteed way to overwhelm yourself. Pick one thing you want to learn, invest the time until you have more comfort and move on to the next thing.

This is just a sampling of what I do to keep myself productive and focused in between gigs. I hope that these tips are helpful for you, too. Happy job hunting!

Gabrielle Glenn is an unscripted TV producer and development professional.

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