How to Cope with Losing My Biggest Freelance Writing Client
No matter how talented and dedicated of a freelance writer you are, there will be that moment when you get dumped by your biggest client. For me, losing my biggest freelance writing client came out of the blue.
I had been writing for this client for several years. I had a great rapport with them and communicated with them frequently. Every time I talked to them they complimented me on my work. Then one morning I get the email asking if I had a moment to talk on the phone. That was all the email said, but my gut told me something was wrong.
Sure enough, my intuition was right.
The client was going in a different direction and was looking for writers that were better suited for their revamped website. When asked what I thought, I simply responded, “It just sucks.”
I not only enjoyed working with this client, they were also my main source of income. So, when I was let go immediately, I had a little bit of a panic attack.
This isn’t unique to just me. That’s part of a being a freelance writer. Thankfully, there are ways that can cope with this breakup and move forward with your career.
Get paid ASAP.
If the client owes you money, then send out an invoice immediately while the iron is still hot. In my opinion, pay cycles are out the window as soon as you part ways. You’re no longer a priority for that client and if they’re going out of business then you don’t want to wait a second longer.
If your client is on the up-and-up, like mine was, they’ll pay your invoice right away. It just ensures that the split is clean and amicable.
Keep calm and freelance on.
After I got off the phone with the client, I almost went into full-on freak-out mode. I mean how was I now going to pay for rent?
I took a couple of deep breathes, went for a walk outside, and then made plans to go out with my friends. The next morning, I was more relaxed and started contacting the other clients that I was working for.
I asked if they had any additional work for me. And, sure enough, a couple of them did. The extra work was just enough to cover my bills until I found another lucrative client that could replace the client I had lost.
It’s tempting to panic when losing a client. Don’t do it though.
Take a day or two off and recharge your batteries. Forget about work for those couple of days so that you can mourn this loss and evaluate your options. Once you’ve cleared your head, it’s time to get back to work.
Review your finances.
There’s a big difference between losing a client that pays you $300 a year and one that pays you $20,000 a year. That part time client probably won’t do much damage to your finances.
But, that $20,000 gig is really going to sting. In fact, you may have to overhaul your entire financial situation by making major sacrifices and evaluating your budget until you find a new main source of income.
Start by determining how much you need each month (you should always know this number, anyway, no matter what is going on). You will want to put a quick focus on attracting more high profile clients than just a couple of gigs on Fiverr.
Evaluate what went wrong.
For me, this was part of the healing process. The client wanted to move into a different direction. It happens. And, most importantly, it made me realize that there was nothing that I did wrong — and that helped a little.
That’s not always the case. Maybe the client really isn’t happy with your writing style, how you just made deadlines, or the frequency of communication.
By asking the client why you’re parting ways, you can work on any weaknesses that you may have overlooked so that you won’t lose another client in the future.
Reach out to your existing clients.
This is exactly what I did immediately after losing my biggest client. I was fortunate enough that my other clients did have work for me, and even extra work for me, right on the spot.
There was another client that didn’t have work immediately, but by reaching out to them I was on their radar. As soon as they had a project about month later they hired me. That project has since become an ongoing monthly gig.
Even if your existing clients don’t have work for you, ask if they can refer you to anyone who needs a writer or if they can give you a testimonial on you website. You may get a new client from this. But, more importantly, that testimonial can help rebuild your confidence.
Also, since you left on good terms, don’t hesitate to ask your former client for a referral.
Update your resume and tweak website and social profiles.
If you have some extra free time between clients, then use that to update and tweak your resume, website, online writing portfolio, and social profiles. Freelancers often forget about these updates since we’re busy writing all day and then attending to our personal lives.
It will be important to take the time to make sure that all of your contact information and writing samples are current, collect testimonials, and tweak your message so that you’re more appealing to your target audience.
Work on a personal project.
If you still have some free time, which you probably do, then put it to good use. Instead of binge watching a Netflix series and feeling sorry for yourself, work on a personal project that you’re passionate about. These passion projects make us happy and may even lead to a new revenue stream.
Get back on the grind.
After you’ve taken some time for yourself, you need to start hustling. After all, those bills aren’t going to pay themselves.
If you’ve reached out to your existing clients and they don’t have any work for, then you need to start marketing your services like crazy. Start sending out cold emails to people who could use your specific set of writing skills, connect with your target audience on social media, and search for gigs on high-quality job boards and websites like Problogger.
Plan for the future.
Losing a client sucks. But to make sure that you’re never in this position again, build a cushy savings account by saving a percentage of your income so that you can live off of it for a couple of months. It won’t solve all of your problems, but it will help you survive until you land a replacement client. And, it will temporarily eliminate the financial stress of losing your biggest client.
Have you ever lost a major freelance writing client? How did you cope with the loss?