Freelance writing comes with its risks, especially if you’re doing it full-time. The worst thing that can ever happen to you, though, is to lose every single client at the same time.
It’s rare, but it does happen, and trust me when I say you never want it to happen to you.
Freelance writing comes with its risks, especially if you’re doing it full-time.
But what do you do if this does actually happens to you, and more importantly, how do you prevent this for ever happening to you?
I Lost Them! What Do I Do?
Okay, you’ve just lost most of your income sources in quick succession. It’s fine; don’t panic. But you gotta move fast to lessen the damage, so do the following:
- Assess your savings and see if they can support you for the next two months (maybe more). Depending on how good it’s looking, you can either ignore or follow through with #2.
- Cut down on expenses right now. Basically everything you don’t absolutely need, stop paying for it.
- Start cold emailing potential clients as soon as possible, trying to send out as many as you can each day.
- Email old clients and ask if they need any work done, or if they know of anybody looking for your talents. Yeah, it’s time to call in any favors you may have.
The whole reason you need to absolutely wreck yourself with emails is because I believe there’s a two-week rule of thumb with “project acquisition”, meaning the time it takes from the sending of the cold email to actual payment for an accepted/completed project.
This is assuming your cold emails are successful and assuming you only do small writing projects, like blog posts that are quick to complete. If it’s a copywriting gig, you’re looking at a lot longer time period.
Because your clients have flown the coop, you’re looking at easily more than two weeks without any income, which is why you need to get work flowing again as soon as possible.
But don’t worry – you got this! Just follow those four steps and you’ll be back on top in no time.
How Do I Prevent This?
This is what you’ve gotta do if you never want to this happen again, or just simply ever.
The whole problem with freelance writing and freelancing in general is our income is uneven. It comes in fits and starts, and only if we can keep the flow of work going, which brings up step 1:
1. Never Stop Marketing
If you’ve got more work than you can handle right now, or a few cushy clients you’ve had for a while, it does not mean you stop marketing. It’s inevitable that one day that work is going to disappear, leaving you up sh*t creek without a paddle if you’ve got no other work.
Keep sending out cold emails and hunting for more work. If you happen to interest some people but have too much on your plate, then either outsource it or refer it to someone else. It is always better to have too much work, than too little.
2. Bring Up a Retainer Agreement
If you have clients who frequently use your services and always do this through individual projects and payments, it’s an ideal opportunity to bring up being put on retainer.
Being put on retainer means getting paid one lump sum each month and in return you do whatever work they request of you (to a limit). For a freelance blogger like myself it would look something like this:
Each blog post costs your client $90, but instead of them paying you four times a month they simply pay you the full amount at the beginning of the month and you do the work when needed.
This is a very basic example, but it’s essentially what retainer agreements look like for writers. This helps ensure you have more money from the start, protecting your interests if they decide to cancel a blog post or stop using you entirely.
3. Create and Maintain an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is quickly becoming popular among freelancers, and there’s no question why – it has the power to get you out of a bind incredibly quickly.
What an emergency fund is is a savings account you deposit into each month with the express purpose of being used to fill an emergency income gap. If you earned only $2,000 but need $3,000 to pay the bills, then you take the required amount from your emergency fund.
It can also be an absolute lifesaver if the situation we discussed above ever happens – rather than stress and struggle for work, you now have a buffer of money that will allow you to build your business back up without worrying where the rent will come from.
I wrote a detailed post on emergency funds, which you can read here: Irregular Income? Here’s How to Prevent Serious Money Problems.
But Don’t Worry
because something like this will probably never happen to you if you’re always out marketing yourself. An emergency fund is a good idea, but if you play your cards right, you’ll never actually have to use it much.
And retainer agreements just rock in general.
However, if you are going through something like this right now then the most important thing you can do is to not panic. You got yourself into this business and so I’ve got all the faith in the world you can pick yourself up again.
You just have to email the living hell out of every company in the country!