Everyone knows how unpredictable freelancing is. It’s the main thing that stops people from going freelance in the first place.
It’s pretty typical for freelancers to see busy periods and then times when you’ve got no work coming in. This is commonly known as the feast or famine cycle. It’s often difficult to come in between as a happy medium. You’re either too busy or not busy enough. The key is to prepare for both so you’re never caught off guard. Here’s how to deal with the inconsistency of freelancing.
Focus on long-term clients
Keeping clients is cheaper than finding new ones. If you do a lot of one-off work for multiple clients, the chances are you’re spending a lot of time hunting for clients. However, this is time you’re not getting paid for. If you can get long term clients you won’t have to spend so long trying to get new ones.
So rather than finding clients who want one-off jobs, focus on building a client list of people who want regular work coming through. This will depend on your type of work and might not be possible in all ventures. In these instances, it’s still important to foster good client relationships so you can get to a point where you’re comfortable enough to ask them to recommend you to others.
Market like crazy
While finding clients doesn’t earn you any money in itself, you still need to do it. Make sure marketing is part of your daily or at least weekly routine. Get consistent with it and you’ll end up having to spend less time doing it. Automate things like email and social media marketing to become more efficient. This will free up time that you can then spend on client work.
Besides this, make sure you’re going out to enough people every week and pitching your services. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Hopefully the more you do this, the more people will come to you, but don’t always count on it. You should still do this when you’re busy so that you can keep the momentum going and not fall into a dry patch.
Make your process as smooth as possible
Think about the client’s experience when they come across your website. The process needs to be as smooth as possible, any snags could make them go elsewhere.
So take a look at your pitches and your website. Do they make it easy for clients to go to the next step? Interested clients first of all want to know what you do. Next they will probably want to see proof of your work through a portfolio. Then if they decide to hire you, they need to be able to contact you easily.
So make sure you’ve got clear links to each of these sections, ideally at the top of the page but also at the bottom of the page when they’ve finished reading. Include a call to action which will help push the client to the next step if they’re interested.
So for example, at the end of your services page, have a link to your portfolio or at the end of your portfolio have a link to your contact page.
Have a financial safety blanket
All freelancers know the fear at some point of not having enough income during a quiet month. Sometimes this is just unavoidable so you need to prepare for them.
One way to do this is to keep an emergency savings account. Decide on a percentage of your income to put into a savings pot that you only touch in emergencies. Be strict with yourself here and don’t dip into it for random purchases. Use it to cover living expenses if you’re going to be short this month or if you’re computer breaks down.
Make use of quiet time
Quiet periods aren’t all bad if you’ve got back up funds. If you know you’ve got a time of the year where work naturally slows down, then plan ahead and make use of this time. Use it to go on holiday and get a break from freelancing for a bit. Another way you could use this time is to do a course or learn a new skill, either for freelancing or just for yourself.
Save don’t splurge
When you’re having a busy few months and have got a steady stream of clients, it can be tempting to splurge your new found wealth. However, these things are usually followed by quieter months that can end up hitting you with surprise if business has been going good. So make sure you’re not blowing all your money when you do have it and save it for when you don’t have it instead.
How do you manage the unpredictability of freelancing? Please share your thoughts or tips!