Ob-la-di-ob-la-da, life goes on, yeah
Na, na, na, na, life goes on
One of the scarier aspects of freelancing is the feast or famine nature of it. You work with a client for months or even years and then, suddenly, their budget changes or their business model changes, and your services are no longer needed. You’ve come to rely on that income, and now you need to find a way to replace it.
Change happens quickly. Last year, I had my best year yet. Throughout the year, I lost two clients, gained two more and had to turn down four opportunities because I didn’t have time. At the start of this year, I lost another client and my existing clients are not asking for the same volume they were. January was my lowest month in almost 2 years. After a year of feasting, I’m now in a bit of a famine.
Although it’s easy to get stressed, especially early on, keep in mind that this is part of how it goes. Here’s how you can be proactive with your business all the time, so you’re better equipped to handle the slower periods.
Always be looking. Although you may have a full plate right now, you never want to rely solely on one client or company for all your revenue. Always be looking at job listings that come your way, so you have ideas of where to go when times get tough.
Be professional when turning down opportunities. Last year, a couple people reached out to me on LinkedIn. i wasn’t able to do the work for them at the time, but I referred them to others who might and gained a new connection. One of them I reached back out to recently with my new availability.
Budget for the famine. Freelance income is rarely consistent, so you should always be budgeting. In addition to setting aside money for taxes every month, set aside some of your income to carry you through in case a client goes away.
Don’t take it personally. Ending a contract is often a business decision and not a reflection of the quality of your work. Keep a good relationship with the client. Ask if you can use them as a reference, and encourage them to get back in touch with you if things change.
Freelancing is like any other business. Planning ahead will help you remain strong throughout the ups and downs. If you’re like me, and things are slower than you’d like, hang in there. Remote jobs are becoming more plentiful these days. I see far more roles now than I did 10 years ago. Stay at it. You’ll find more clients and new opportunities.