This is for the freelancers out there …
Whether we want to accept it or not, it’s a dangerous line of work. It’s not necessarily for those who get squeaked out by instability. People don’t always engage freelancers or contractors because they’re looking for a temporary relationship, but the ability to make the relationship temporary without too much guilt is a big draw for employers.
So if you’re a freelancer, you have to be ready.
Don’t wait until you actually lose a huge, well-paying gig before you get prepared. Here’s what you do:
- Save. I am god-awful at this and probably the last person to be giving advice to anyone, but you really have to. Not just because the Tax Man is going to hit you sooner or later, but because you don’t know what’s coming down the road. Having a little nest egg and being a freelancer are two things that should theoretically go hand-in-hand.
- Grow your network. Make it a point to schedule contacting old clients quarterly. Don’t mention work. Just ask them how they’re doing, tell ’em you miss talking with them and see what opportunities open up. This isn’t just about doing good business, it’s about being a good human.
- Always be on the lookout for work. Don’t stop just because you’re comfortable. This doesn’t mean that you take on work you don’t have time for, but that you don’t stop looking for opportunities.
What if you just lost the job and you haven’t done any of the above?
- First of all, START DOING THEM. Don’t wait to begin the process above.
- Get yourself on the freelancing networks. Upwork is pretty good because you can determine whether or not the client is looking for an expert, which will help you determine who your competition is based on your skill level.
- FundBox and Kabbage are great. They’re not for everyone – don’t use it if you’re not going to pay them back – but it can be really helpful.
- Assess what happened. Are you checking in with clients regularly? What are you able to give them to help them stick around? Conversely, is your sell wrong? Are you selling yourself as a monthly package when you should be selling yourself as a consultant?
- Ask your friends. Friends in the field, people around you, if a marketing partner, web designer, or whatever you do is needed. You’d be surprised how quickly the word gets out.
- Bow out gracefully. Rather than freaking out on your old client, it’s best to acknowledge this maybe wasn’t the right time, finish out your contract and be grateful to them. If you provided good service and bowed out gracefully, they will be back. It’s happened for me time and time again. It you show them the value, it WILL happen.
- Tell your clients you’ll give them cash off for referrals. It works!
There are likely a ton more, but this is a start.