Clients come and go for various reasons. What happens though if the freelance client who just happens to go is the one who paid for more than half of your weekly income? What if that client just out of the blue freezes the project due to lack of funds and has no idea when or even if the project will be restarted? Here are 3 steps for you.
Step 1: Stay calm!
It’s paramount not to panic and not to feel desperate or helpless. Being a freelancer, you are probably far more capable than you think and the loss of such client is far from the end of the world.
Finish the tasks at hand and give your work to the client. Discuss the reasons for seizing operations, if possible, as well as future cooperation opportunities – on the same or other projects.
Part ways in a civilized way and get planning.
Step 2: Analyze the situation calmly!
As mentioned earlier, the loss of a single client isn’t the end of the world. It may be a big deal if you tied up your income too much with their project but still – not the end of the world. There is enough work for everyone.
Analyze your finances right now:
- how much money do you have in the bank
- what costs do you have planned for the coming weeks
- how much money do you make on the rest of your clients’ projects
- how fast do you want to get back on track with your weekly earnings
- what type of work do you want to do in the meantime
Write down on a list of paper (yes, write down!) what you’d need and when you’d need it, so that you don’t stress out over imaginary problems you think you might have – both financially and personally.
For example, the fact that you lost your best client without any notice is scary. You can easily think you won’t make enough money for the rent next week; or you’d have to cancel that trip to Hawaii you’ve been planning for so long; or you’d skip your car payment next month as you won’t have enough money to cover it anyway.
Don’t do that. Do the math – maybe you have just enough money to pay your rent, go to Hawaii, and pay your car payment – yes, even without that big client. This will put your mind at ease and will help you cope with the freelance client loss in a more productive way.
So, set some goals, remember they should be SMART – and get started!
Step 3: Make a plan and stick to it!
You have already analyzed the situation and set the goals. Good. It’s action time.
Don’t look for projects thinking you don’t have enough work and you need money right here, right now.
Remember your work principles and more importantly, stand by them – it is super important you don’t compromise with them now…
Think long-term when you choose new projects and clients. The “ideal” project and client will come – the question is: will you have the guts to wait for it? So don’t grab the first opportunity which presents itself to you; wait for the one you really want.
Most probably you won’t find another big client which suits you easily. So in the meantime, while you are looking for them, fill in the gaps with quick and small projects – to make some quick buck.
If you don’t want to work on small projects and can afford to be one big client down – use the extra time wisely! Improve your skills, learn a new skill, specialize, help a friend, do some charity work, anything.
Look at this big freelance client loss as an opportunity to take some me-time and do things that make you feel special, useful and happy 😉
Jeri Walker-Bickett says
Wish I could say I’ve lost a client 😉 I’m still in the trying to get clients phase…
Shahzad Saeed says
Liked that comment 🙂
Finding is not tougher. Have a look on Problogger Job board. I think that’s an easy entry for those who are getting started with freelancing 🙂
He-he, Jeri – i wish you have to never lose a client. 😉 As to the trying-to-get clients phase – let me know if you have specific questions or pet peeves – i would love to write new posts based on your feedback (provided i have the experience in the particular situation, of course :D)
Shahzad – thanks for commenting and for recommending Problogger Job Board. However, mind that not everyone is a freelancer writer or a blogger. Jeri, for instance, is after editing gigs. I am a freelance marketer. So we both may or may not benefit form the ProBlogger job board per se. Or am i wrong that it is for blogging gigs only? 😀
problogger job board does seem to be mainly writing work. I get a lot of my clients from twitter, and also through blogging on my own relevant blogs. Also, you can even do facebook ads. But networking, although slow, it is a steady way to find more clients too 🙂
Twitter? Really? You surprise me, Lisha – i would have never thought you can get good clients from Twitter – it is sooo noisy there 😀
I second your suggestion about blogging – when i launched this site, it was slow but with time, now at least 1 person contacts me every day with some type of inquiry for a new projct. It’s crazy out here!
LinkedIn pays out as a network, too – have you tried sourcing clients there?
Wow, this was a post about losing a big client – how did we turn the comments in the direction of finding clients? We ARE good – helping the reader who just lost their big client with plenty of ideas 😉
I’ve never been a freelancer before. I can definitely feel for those that lose big clients and can potentially end their careers.
All they have to do after is read your helpful article Diana. 🙂
he-he, thanks for the kind words and feedback, Sam – i really hope the post helps someone in need who has just lost a client.
But hey, ending a contract with a client shouldn’t be a reason to worry about your career. You know, i like to think that when a door closes, another opens, always – it’s just a matter of time and desire to see it. Won’t you agree? 😀
Debra Yearwood says
Great advice. The best part is getting it before that situation arises. I’ve known a few people to get completely thrown off their game because they vested all their time and energy into one client. The trick is to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
ah, hope for the best and plan for the worst is SO valuable advice that we most often forget – thanks for the reminder, Debra! Diversify – that’s what i do 😉
Susan Cooper/findingourwaynow.com says
I totally agree with you Diana. I had to laugh because I would give this some of the the same advise to my sales group for many of the same reason. The fact is, with a little tweaking, this really does apply to so many areas in our lives, don’t you think?
Yes, i think it does, Susan – but if i think about it, we, freelancers, wear many hats in the same time so no surprise this advice is applicable in many areas… We are after all small business owners, sales reps, customer service reps, virtual assistants (unless we are lucky or better say “rich” enough to have someone do at least the assisting for us) – and so on. Thanks for adding to the conversation 😀
Bob Lange says
This is the time to sharpen your marketing materials you didn’t have time for when you were spinning serving clients. You should also have been prospecting before this happened, so you simply continue to prospect. Take a mental break too. Walk pull weeds, go to the museum, whatevah. You will rebound.
Right, sharpening your marketing materials is a great idea – i have never thought of that (‘professional hazard’, i guess – always ready! :D) – thanks for adding to the conversation, Bob!