A lot of corporations have seen dramatic decreases in revenue and have cut back projects as well. In many cases, this is accompanied by layoffs, and so everyone is working far harder.

But in other organizations, and for a lot of freelancers, there's more time than work. In other words, slack time.

Assume for a moment you don't have money to develop and launch something new. So, what are you going to do with the slack?

What can you build over the next year that will take time now and pay off later? How can you invest the slack to build a marketing asset that you'll own forever?

May I offer two suggestions:

1. Learn something. Become an expert. For free, using nothing but time, you can become a master of CSS or HTML or learn Python. You can hit the library and read the entire works of important authors, or you can borrow some books from a friend and master Analytics or discover case studies and corporate histories that will be invaluable in a year. You could learn to become fluent in Spanish…

If you're a glass blower without a job, you can't do much glass blowing. But if you're a digital marketer between gigs, you can do a lot of digital marketing… build a tribe for your favorite non-profit and make it a case-study for an entire industry.

2. Earn a following and reputation. Use social networking tools to connect to people for no good reason. Post tons of useful answers on discussion boards where your expertise is valued. Build a permission asset in the form of an email newsletter or a fascinating blog that people want to read. Do resume makeovers for 100 friends. Start a neighborhood or industry book group. Don't go to conventions, earn the right to speak at them.

If you were as serious about these two endeavors as you are about doing your job (eight hours a day on a slow day), imagine how much more powerful and in demand you'll be a year from now.

Beats the alternative, by far.