4 Ways The Best Freelancers Find Work After Losing Their First Big Clients
About a month ago, my boyfriend and I traveled to the US to visit my family. It was awesome.
In three weeks, we traveled to Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, Washington DC and San Francisco. If you're thinking, “Woah, that's a lot of time to take off from work,” know this: It is. But luckily, being a freelancer allows for that flexibility.
I have to be honest, though. The flexibility wasn't enough to keep me from being my regular psycho self. I was just as manic as I was at home. Think Mindy Lahiri meets Ilana Wexler meets Shoshannah Shapiro.
I know. It's a nightmare.
Like many “digital nomads,” I was expected to work remotely for my clients while I was away. Freelancing doesn't give you paid vacations. You have to get your sh*t done.
I always get my sh*t done. But it's a bit harder to do so when you're driving from Atlanta to Nashville with no WiFi.
Just when I thought I had succeeded at the whole working and traveling thing, I got an email from a client. The company couldn't afford to keep me on board anymore.
This wasn't just any client, either. This was my first, my favorite and my biggest. This client was my ride or die.
So, like any girl who's just been dumped by her first love, I ate six muffins and proceeded to panic. I analyzed my situation for the entire 15-hour plane ride back to Israel.
I tried to plan my next financial steps, but my brain was racing too fast. My heart was exhausted. As I said almost every day of my entire teenage life, “This is the f*cking worst thing that could ever possibly happen to me.”
OK. So I lost a client. This is the kind of stuff that happens when you freelance, but you don't fully understand the agony of it until it happens to you. You assume the instability is manageable.
Maybe it is. But it sure as hell doesn't feel like that the first time around.
If this happens to you, it's OK to freak out. But while you're freaking out, consider taking these steps to help you temporarily:
1. Increase your hours with other clients.
Believe it or not, a lot of clients are open to increasing their hours with their freelancers. Just explain to them that there were some changes in your schedule, and if they need the help, you'd be happy to increase your hours.
If they like the work you do and need it, there's no reason they'll say no. This extra money can help close the gap a bit, and help you cover the basics.
Even if these clients decline your proposal, they'll appreciate you asked. It will demonstrate that you enjoy your working relationship.
2. Send three proposals every day.
Depending on what you do as a freelancer, you can try to pick up short-term projects on websites like Upwork. For minimal work, you can get enough cash to cover your rent, and you can spend the rest of your time focusing on acquiring anchor clients.
To get these short-term projects, I send out three proposals every day. Out of 21 weekly proposals, you're sure to get at least a few responses and offers.
Just don't get stuck in a dangerous place that ruins your work momentum. Continue reaching out to potential new clients. Your proactive attitude will satisfy you.
3. Create content.
Again, depending on what you specialize in, you might have other long-term goals besides your immediate freelance work. Maybe you want to open your own agency or become a thought leader within your industry.
Whatever it is, continue getting your name out there by creating content that benefits like-minded people. Don't drop out of the conversation just because you encountered a minor speed bump.
Continue sharing and connecting. This is how you build relationships that can lead you to further opportunities.
4. Stay healthy.
This might sound dumb, but seriously: I can't emphasize enough how many times I've been sick due to work anxiety. This self-induced illness doesn't help me move forward or improve. It just makes everything harder.
I don't know why it's suddenly a Millennial fad to say things like "Ugh, I haven't slept in three days," in a look-how-hard-I-work kind of way. But it needs to stop.
It's not cool to not take care of yourself. So, if this happens to you, stay calm.
Write it all out. Sleep. Exercise a bit more. Cook more meals at home.
Just make sure you're being kind to yourself during this time of internal upheaval. If you're physically and mentally a mess, this sh*t will kill you.