It’s a freelancer’s nightmare and can happen to at any given time. Losing clients that you depend on for income never happens at a ‘good time’, but you must always be ready.
The workload uncertainty is just one of the downsides of freelancing in exchange for the freedom and flexibility it provides.
If you happen to suddenly lose a big client or more than one client and need to find more work quickly, keep these tips in mind.
Always Be Prepared
It’s important to realize that you probably won’t work with your clients forever even if you have a great and trusting relationship. Needs change and clients can choose to go in a different direction which can affect their budget and your job.
It’s important to always be prepared for sudden changes like a client loss so you won’t be stressed out financially or forced to settle for a job that you don’t really want.
The most common time to lose a freelance client is usually at the end of a year or the start of a new one since people usually set new goals and go over their budget at this time.
You can prepare yourself for a client loss by brushing up your resume or portfolio website so it can be ready to go should you need to apply for new jobs quickly. You can also start sending out pitches or looking at job postings just to see what else is out there.
When you establish a new client that is providing you with recurring work, you can also ask that they include a clause in the contract that states that both parties must give some type of notice if they wish to terminate the contract and move on.
Some clients will be willing to do this if they haven’t included it in the terms already. Even providing something as short as a 30-day notice can provide you with some extra time to get prepared and determine your next move without missing out on a ton of income.
Ask Existing Clients If They Have Extra Work
If you are really blindsided by a client loss and have little time to react or plan, you can always reach out to any of your current clients to see if they have extra assignments for you to take one or know anyone else who might be hiring.
I did this a lot when I was trying to build up my freelance clientele. I realized that if you good work and provide a valuable service, people will usually be more than willing to offer you more assignments or refer you to others.
It’s all about planting those seeds early on, though. If you never respond to emails or always miss deadlines, your client may be hesitant about giving you more work.
As a side note, you also might want to ask your client if they can provide you with a raise. If you’ve been working with them well over a year and haven’t asked for a raise, it may be way overdue.
Again, if you are easy to work with and able to provide value, your client will be more willing to pay you more since your work ethic will justify the raise.
Sometimes, it’s also about trust. If you’ve proven yourself to be a trustworthy person, your client will probably realize that they need to keep you around vs. going through the trouble of taking a risk on someone new.
Send Out Pitches Like Crazy
The next thing you’ll want to do is start sending out a lot of pitches. Look on job boards, in online groups or forums, or just search on Google for potential clients leads.
Then, put together a compelling pitch and follow any other application requirements. Depending on how much work you need and how quickly you need to find something, you’ll need to send out a few pitches per week and follow up on them diligently.
Get organized and list out all the pitches you send in a spreadsheet with the date you sent them so you can keep track of when you need to follow up.
Even if you feel anxious to find something, focus on sending quality pitches for jobs you’re actually interested and qualified to do. Sending emails to anyone and everyone won’t really help you and could even damage your credibility especially if you take on work that you’re not interested in doing or don’t have the ability to do.
Lean on Your Network
Finally, reach out to your network and see if you know anyone who could help. Email other freelancers who seem to have too much work on their hands and ask if they know anyone who could be hiring.
Post in Facebook groups and tweet about your availability to take on new clients. The more your network knows about your needs, the more they’ll be willing to help out.
Your network is super valuable because it consists of people you have a personal connection with. They can refer you for jobs and put in a good word for you which may be more effective than sending out a cold pitch.
If a potential client knows that you have a proven track record, you’ll be more likely to land the new job.
Summary: Don’t Stress, Take Calculated Action
It’s easy to freak out when you lose a few clients and a large chunk of your freelance income all at once. It’s important to stay calm, develop a plan and take calculated action to improve your situation.
It’s best to always be prepared no matter what and have a fully funded emergency fund to ease your financial stress during the situation.
Then, you just need to put in the work whether it’s reaching out to your network, sending cold pitches, or asking your existing clients for extra work.
At the end of the day, you’ll see that there’s usually plenty of work to go around. Soon enough, you’ll land new clients just like you landed your old ones.