8 Ways to Boost Income When Work is Slow

We all have had slow spells in our field of work. For me, winter is a rough time. Businesses slow down and when it is as cold as it has been in Chicago, there is nothing exciting about filming outdoors. Over the past 5 years, I’ve found a couple ways to boost my income when work is slow. Here are my 8 tips on how to make money when work is slow.

Tip 1: Sell Gear

how to make money when work is slow - sell gear

I have a personal rule that if I haven’t used a piece of gear in the past 6 months I sell it. Some times we buy gear that we really didn’t need or we just don’t use that often and should be renting instead. So if you’ve built up a lot of gear you might be surprised at how much capital you have sitting in a closet.

Good places to sell gear:

Tip 2: Rent Your Gear Out

how to make money when work is slow - rent out gear

If you aren’t filming every day and/or your business is seasonal, you might consider renting out your gear. Obviously you will want to have insurance on your equipment, but renting to even your friends could be a great way to make some extra money. If you’re curious about rates, check out this site or this one.

Tip 3: Film and Sell Royalty Free Footage

how to make money when work is slow - sell footage

This is one of my favorite tips. If you’re in a gig dry spell one of the best things you can do is work on your filming skills. Why not do that and make some money at the same time? There are several site where you can sell footage and make some decent money off of your shots. Here are a few:

Tip 4: Do Some Reviews and Become an Affiliate

how to make money when work is slow - become an affiliate

If you’re like me, you can’t help but want to tell people about gear you love. Why not do that and make some money in the process? One of my main sources of income is affiliate programs like the ones B&H and Amazon offer. So if you have some gear that you respect, do a review and signup for an affiliate account. Here are some site that offer affiliate programs for video gear:

Tip 5: Diversify your services

This is probably the biggest thing you could do to increase your income. A lot of people don’t know this, but I do more than just video production and podcasting. I also do a lot of web design. having that 3rd outlet for income has been huge over the years. Like many industries, video production can have it’s season and when video work slows down I have web design to fill that gap.

Now, you may have zero interest in web design and thats ok. There are several things you could do that are more related to video. One thing could be adding other services to your production company. I have a friend who found that he wasn’t staying busy in the winter, so he started marketing podcasting to his clients and that filled the gaps.

So grab a pen and some paper and write down some other services you could possibly offer or pursue. The idea here is to diversify your income so you have several ways to make money and if one takes a small hit the others continue.

Tip 6: Do Free Work in Your Desired Field

This might sound silly since we are talking about MAKING money, but in the end this is the way to do it. Someone once told me if you want to get hired to do something, you need to go over there and do it for free. This is GOLD advice. Sitting at your desk waiting for the phone to ring won’t get you that awesome dream documentary gig. Even making calls and sending emails is futile if you don’t have a body of work in that genre. So if work is slow go find those projects that you want to get hired to do, and do them for free. Once you have some great work in that field under your belt, people will start coming to you.

Tip 7: Learn Something New

how to make money when work is slow - learn something new

If you’re reading this and you have free time because work is slow you should be excited. You really have an awesome opportunity to do what so many people can’t, and thats learning something new. I really truly miss the days when I could spend a day or a week learning something new and mastering it. Take this rare opportunity and learn something new. Learn that software you’ve been meaning to check out, read a book on cinematography, go out and experiment with shutter speeds. You can’t go wrong with educating yourself and in the long haul this will bring in work and make you a more well rounded efficient filmmaker. Here are some great websites and books to kickstart your learning:

Tip 8: Develop Your Business

how to make money when work is slow - work on your business

Dry work spells are a great time to take a close look at your production company and find areas where you’re inefficient or sloppy. After all, losing time is losing money. Are you spending to much time doing the same edits or text overlays in your videos? Create some templates to help streamline your post production.  Spending to much time searching for files? Reorganize your digital and analog filing system.

If you can’t think of a place to start, or if you just bewildered by it all, read Getting Things Done and ReWork. Reading those books was one of the best things I’ve done for my business to date.


I hope this gives you guys some direction and inspiration to turn those lame slow times into positive, creative and learning experiences you’ll enjoy. If you have any tips for boosting income I’d love to hear them!