8 Things To Do When Business Is Slow

things to do when business is slow

Sometimes business is slow; it happens to the best of us.  Things are rolling along nicely - new clients! big meetings! money dripping into your account at a sweet and steady pace!  And then allofasudden, nothing but the sound of wind down a long hallway and an owl in the distance. Whoooooo! Whooooo!  Whoooooo are you going to live with when business dries up? 

For the first few days, you treasure the empty inbox. You go to matinees, grab long lunches with friends, and catch up on your Netflix.

But after a few weeks, you start getting a little nervous. Nervous and twitchy and compulsively checking your bank account balance - as though seeing that number is going to help at all.

Dude. Worry not. All of us - every single self-employed human - has gone through dry spells. At the risk of being a total Pollyanna, let’s try to reframe this downtime as an opportunity to get some awesome stuff done.

Here are 8 confidence-building, business-netting things to do when business is slow

Update your permanent pages

Despite my years as a professional copywriter, I had the same About page for, oh, ever. And my old sales pages? Well, they’re gone now AND THAT IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. I regularly look through and update older, high traffic posts but it’s rare that I look at my own permanent pages - and I bet you’re the same. Seems a bit narcissist to read your own bio on the regs, right?

But other people are constantly reading your About page and Sales pages - my Yes and Yes About page has 50,000+ views! Here’s a 15-part tutorial to help you write better sales pages and here’s a post full of great ‘cheats’ to finish your About page.

Also - you know your About page should end with a call to action, right? Like, you (charmingly) ask them to follow you on social media and/or subscribe to your list? Yeah, I thought you already knew that.

Gather + update your testimonials

In a perfect world, you’d have an automated system in place to help you gather testimonials a week or so after you’ve wrapped up with a client. I have a template email that links to a Google form and that form elicits all sorts of feedback and they let me know if I can use that feedback on my sales pages.

Not sure what makes a good testimonial?

1. Data! How many more sales? How many more Twitter followers? How many dates? How much money or time saved? We want hard numbers, son.

2. Barriers to purchase that were overcome. “I always thought life coaches were for hippies, but then I hired Nancy.” “$1,500 seemed like a lot of money to invest in my engagement photos, but it was sooooo worth it.”

Contact previous clients and see if they need anything

It’s a million times easier to get repeat business than convert a new customer. Go have a good online stalk of all your previous clients and see if there’s anything you can help with. They’ve been tweeting about a big new project - do they need your help designing the website? You can see from Instagram that they’re expecting a baby - do they need pregnancy photos? Send a sweet, personalized email reaching out and offering to help.

Update + optimize + re-promote your old, high-traffic posts

Here’s the long, but incredibly effective checklist I use for updating old posts. Make the post images Pinterest-friendly! Make the posts more readable! Include links to other posts within this post! See if you can use them as guest posts on other sites!

Then re-promote these newly awesome-i-fied posts on your social media channels. Eassssy.

Pitch guest posts or offer yourself up for interviews

When I offered myself up for interviews, I got about 15 takers (!) over a month and a half. That means that heaps of new readers and potential clients heard and read all about me. Nice, right? You can do the same. Find podcasts that regularly feature people in your field and pitch yourself!

You’d also do well to bookmark sites that feature guest posters in your field. Some particularly great ones: Freelancers Union, Oh My Handmade, and  Designsponge’s Biz Ladies column.

Create a different form of your offerings

Can you turn a one-on-one offering into a group offering? Could you turn an e-course into a live workshop? Could you re-purpose an old, no-longer-selling-that-well ebook into a series of blog posts? Or guest posts? There are innumerable ways to reinvent your wheel.

Learn that thing you know you should be learning (but have been putting off)

Like, A/B split testing. Or Google Analytics. Or starting a newsletter. Or making videos. Or creating a series of autoresponders.  You knooooow you should be doing these things. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Let’s make a pact to finally figure them out. Ready? Go.

Schedule out a bunch of social media updates

I’m a huge fan of promoting other people’s work and I think it’s been a big part of my ‘online success,’ as counter-intuitive as that may seem.  I share these links on Facebook and in my weirdly popular Sunday link posts.  These pre-scheduled updates send traffic to lovely people, entertain my Facebook followers, and help me connect with the people I’m promoting.

You can also pre-schedule tweets that promote your products and services or link to older, now-optimized posts.

What do you do when business is slow? Leave your tips in the comments!

P.S. Want me to take a peek at your online space and send you three, specific-to-you suggestions? Fill out this tiny form and reply to my email with your URL! It’s free! Waddaya have to lose?!

photo by bino storyteller // cc


Greg B

Wow! What great post! This is one that I wish I had thought of. Every small business owner has their slow times and employing some of the tips you have laid out will help ease the nerves and help drive new or repeat business. I’m bookmarking this one!

Stefani Lefler

These are some great tips. Updating your site is a great way to keep things fresh and not take up time when you have a client. I also really liked the idea of updating and changing your offerings. I honestly hadn’t thought of that at all. I know that is something I need to do, especially since I need to build my email list that is nonexistent at the moment. Great post!

Friday Favorites #8

[…] Because there’s always SOMETHING that can be done, here are 8 ideas from Sarah on what to do when business is slow. […]

Jackie Van Nice

Great round-up, Sarah! Thankfully it’s been a very long time since I hit one of those lulls, but you’re absolutely right - they happen, and if you keep doing everything you’re talking about here I think they’ll happen less often. Thanks so much for sharing these!


Loved this post, it’s so helpful. It’s true, there’s so many thigns we put off doing when there’s a lot of things happening, but I guess everything needs to get doen sooner than later, huh? Thanks for the inspiration!

Ashlee Chu

These are great things to make sure our online space is up-to-date and not forgotten.

Definitely bookmarked this!

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