Freelance client famine is a thing. It is the threat that keeps freelancers everywhere in a state of high alert. One minute life’s great; the next, there’s no work or money coming in. This article from my archives gives a few ideas about how to combat the famine when it strikes (and it will).
On the face of it, freelancing is a no-brainer.
You work the hours you choose, you get to decide whom you work with, and there’s no boss to answer to.
The problem is it’s not quite that easy.
When you freelance, there’s no sales team around you delivering work – you have to do that.
No IT department can sort out your tech glitches – you have to do that.
There’s no finance department to chase your unpaid invoices – you have to do that.
Plus, the term ‘feast or famine’ usually sums up your workflow.
One minute you’re stressing because you’re not sure how you will hit your deadlines. The next, you’re worrying because you’re twiddling your thumbs and watching tumbleweed blow across your office floor.
It’s this inconsistent level of work that most freelancers find the most frustrating aspect of their business.
So what can be done about it?
Can anything be done about it?
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a bank of retainer clients, sooner or later, you’re going to hit a dry patch.
Client churn is a natural part of business, so you can never rest on your laurels just because, at the moment, you have a healthy monthly income.
Freelance client, where are you?
If you’re like me, you’ll have a favourite way of attracting clients:
- Through website traffic
- By blogging and article marketing
- Through social media
- Face-to-face networking (this one is not my bag at all)
Many freelancers will put all their eggs in one basket. They either solely rely on Google to bring them clients or keep hitting all their local networking events to drum up trade.
Some have given up on organic search and are instead pouring cash into an AdWords campaign. Others hope word-of-mouth will keep their bank balance in the black.
These are legitimate courses of action, but they shouldn’t be relied on in isolation.
What about your existing clients?
Finding new clients always seems to take priority over keeping old ones.
Not every business that approaches you for help will need regular work doing; for most, it’s the odd one-off project now and again. But the fact that you have a database of past happy clients shouldn’t be ignored.
Keeping in touch with them (even those who asked for a quote but didn’t take you up on it) will help you keep that door open and hopefully lead to repeat work.
Don’t go mad, though (you’ll only come across as desperate). Drop them a line once a month to tell them what you’ve been up to and perhaps offer a handy hint – something they will value.
There should be no sales pressure; this is just a ‘staying in touch’ email.
Keep searching for the Holy Grail
Achieving a constant workflow is the Holy Grail every freelancer is looking for.
Admittedly, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve it 100% of the time, but by getting organised and trying different approaches, you will maximise your chances of avoiding a complete famine.
Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter