Things To Do When You’re Not Booked So That You Can Get Booked Again

Having a day off set doesn’t mean you have a day off from being a stylist or running a business. The off days that you’re not booked can be key to securing future bookings, and how productive you are on these “days to yourself” will directly correlate with how much revenue you bring in. I personally look forward to these days; these are the days that I’m in my own thoughts, working on my own ideas and it legitimately feels as though these are the days that I am making the most progress in the future that I want to create. They are the days that I can truly set my intentions for what I want to achieve and work distraction free on personal projects that will get me there. As you may know or will soon find out, being on set is only a piece of the stylist puzzle, a puzzle that you will constantly be putting together throughout your career.

Think of yourself as a business, not a freelancer and set business hours: AKA working Monday – Friday even if you’re not booked on set or have client obligations; taking the time “off” you may have, to work and grow your business.

Here are 10 things you can do when you’re not booked, so that you can get booked again.

  1. POST clearly social media has a huge impact on business and posting on the reg will benefit all artists who communicate visually (that means you). Ensure that you take the time not just to peruse for inspiration but to post new work and behind the scenes, without getting consumed by the social media beast (we’ve all found ourselves still scrolling 20 minutes after posting something) which will eat away at the time you should be using to create. Only post your best work, and if that means holding off on a post until you have your best work, then so be it. I like to pick specific days of the week to post, so that I can avoid falling down the rabbit hole that is Instagram and losing chunks of my time. This means I have structured times that I can peek in and post without wasting valuable time.
  2. UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE by far, the most important job of a stylist is ensuring that your work continues to make its way out into the world to be seen. Which means always creating and updating, as often as possible, your website, your social media channels, your agency with images of new work and your clients who should be kept up to date with your work and capabilities. I like to set aside a day each month to do this; Does it happen each and every single month? Maybe not; some months I am lucky to have a day off and updating my portfolio site is not the first thing on my list when there’s only a few minutes to be spared, but it is an important component of staying relevant in the industry.
  3. ORGANIZE YOUR RECEIPTS tax time will come faster than you can say, “Not again?!” so save yourself hours of anguish come tax time and organize all of your receipts on a weekly or monthly basis. I have a folder with a section for each month of the year and every couple of weeks I take all of my receipts and business expenses and organize them; first by section (ie/ meals, travel, gas, studio expenses, kit supplies, subscriptions, car, etc etc) and then by month. This way I can hand them off to my accountant with no issues and there is a clear record of what was spent on what, saving thousands in deductions. The same goes for invoices, make sure they are kept organized and easy to find either as hard copies or digitally. I have an agent that manages my clients and invoices, but I still keep track of all details of every single job I do and you should too.
  4. NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK take the free time that you have and send a few introductions or brief hellos to people you would like to work with in the future. Even just a quick, “Admire your work, would love to work with and/or collaborate together in the future” is a step in the right direction. However, ensure that you are reaching out to creatives who are on your same experience level. If you’re just starting out, industry veterans who have years under their belt will not be receptive. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back or get a reply; it may have absolutely nothing to do with you, keeping up with DMs and reach outs is a job in itself and industry professionals are incredibly busy people.
  5. FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP if you haven’t heard from a client or a producer in a while, follow up and send a quick, “Hey how are you.” Much of the time, staying at the forefront of people’s minds is all it takes to get booked again and staying in contact not only does that, but it also builds meaningful relationships with your clients.
  6. UPDATE YOUR DIRECTORY There are so many businesses, designers, retailers, showrooms and PR firms you will work with and remembering the contact information for all of them is not possible easy. Having a directory that you can go to and quickly retrieve this information is key to your success, especially when you have impossible tight deadlines and need to track down a hard to find item. Having a directory will also be an irreplaceable asset when asking an assistant to source particular garments and brands, especially if they are just starting out and do not have contacts of their own. You can hand them the directory and they can use it to track down and contact the people necessary. Especially helpful because most of the information in the directory will be industry insider knowledge and not possible easy to find. I have a directory for each major city that I work in with sections for : Designers, Showrooms + PR Firms, Retailers, Accessory Designers, Tailors and Dry Cleaners divided into sections for Men and Women with keywords so that I can quickly find what I am looking for.
  7. MAKE A MOODBOARD odds are there are hundreds of images you’ve come across and saved for inspiration later. Take the day to be inspired and create moodboards for future concepts and creatives that you want to conceive. This is by far the easiest “work” to do on a “day off” because it won’t feel like work at all, but it will plant the seeds for ideas to blossom later that will lead to more work and the creative release will inspire new levels of motivation. Include not just images, but the designers you would contact, the creative team members you’d like to pitch it to and work with and possible location ideas. Having multiple moodboards ready to go will make producing creatives that much easier when you find yourself with a block of time to create on your own terms.
  8. UPDATE YOUR INTENTIONS, GOALS, INSPIRATION BOARD AND CALENDAR as you move through your career, the goals that you once set for yourself will change (and that’s OK), they’ll be crossed off and replaced with new ones; an constantly evolving list of projects or concepts to create, sets you want to be on, people you would like to work with, cities you want to expand to and clients you would like to attain. Each stylist will have a different set of goals that takes them on their own unique career path. It’s important to check in with these goals on a regular basis, measure the progress that you’ve made and the progress still to make and update your calendar with deadline dates for meeting these goals. I always take the time to re-align myself with my intentions and goals, ensuring that I make deadlines for creating meaningful work that expresses my intentions in this industry. If I don’t pay attention to the goals that I have, and make sure that I am progressing them, time will easily slip by without me noticing and the ideas that were so important to me will slip by as well.
  9. PACK YOUR BAGS I have all my bags packed ALL THE TIME, I’m talking ALL THE BAGS, so when a last minute booking comes up for ANY TYPE of job IN ANY CITY I’m ready to go. That means multiple bags for multiple things: My Essentials Kit which has all of the essential supplies I need for any type of set or client, My Set Kits which include an easy to wear crossbody bag and belt bag depending on what type of set I’ll be on, My Production Kit stocked for large productions or commercials, My Workbag which I don’t leave the house without and includes all the necessities of being out and about for the day, including my laptop, sketchbooks, writing supplies, chargers and purse bag, My Weekender / Overnight Bag so that I can leave on a whim for an overnight job or a much needed weekend away and my Purse Bag, a small zippered envelope clutch that goes into whatever purse or bag I am bringing with me, with all of the little necessities like earbuds, toiletries and gum. I know, it’s a lot of bags, and maybe you in particular do not need them all, but I know I do, especially with my incessant need to be prepared and “Who knows where I’ll be tomorrow” life. You’ll find what works for you, but I recommend finding some sort of system that enables you to ensure everything is at the ready for when clients come calling; there’s nothing more embarrassing or amateur than being on set without the things that you need to perform your job.
  10. COMPLETELY UNPLUG AND EXPLORE YOURSELF sometimes the most influential work in our lives is the work that we do on ourselves. Directing work inwards instead of outwards in forms of self development and self reflection are just as important as obtaining new clients. With such a demanding career, we need to take the time for self care and self development to balance ourselves and our lives. I regularly take the time to reflect on the day’s activities, perhaps the way conversations could’ve been different or methods of communication, I ponder new habits and detail plans of implementing these habits into my life, I read and listen to motivational speakers such as Brendon Berchard and Les Brown, I research new methods for workflow and productivity and integrate the ones that make sense for my life. I always make time for exercise and yoga and I have “Self Care Sunday” so that no matter what my schedule is like I have at least one day that I can wash my hair tend to my body’s needs.

I’m not saying that you should work 24/7/365, but take intentional time off, weekends and vacations from work, which are not the same as long gaps of not working on set.

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