I just lost my longest-running client, and 1/6 of my monthly income. Here's what to do when you lose a big freelance gig.
Yesterday, I received an email informing me that my longest-running client had just been bought by a competitor. This competitor plans to let everyone go; the whole point of the purchase is to eliminate the competition. That means that, after seven years (almost exactly), I won't be working with this client anymore. It's a little weird.
It's true that this client represents about 1/6 of my income. However, I've much more diverse revenue streams since the days when this client represented 1/3 of my income. It's a bit of a blow (especially with my husband on reduced pay for the summer and less work expected for the fall). However, it's not the end of the world. I'll find something new, or we'll *shudder* move off our current spending plan and back to a budget setup.
So, what should you do if you lose a big freelance gig? Here are the steps I'm taking:
Let Your Network Know
One of the best things you can do is let your network know. I sent out a tweet last night, after I received the email. This morning, I had emails from two of my contacts, and a Skype message from another, offering me opportunities.
Chances are that your friends and other networking partners want to help you. Let your network know you're back in the market and looking, and something could very well come up. This is why business networking is so essential all the time, and not just when you're looking for a job.
Update Your Information (If You Haven't Already)
Every few months, I try to update some of my information. I add more samples to my online portfolio, or I brush up my resume. Recently, I also rethought the way I present myself. Tweak your elevator pitch. Rethink your branding. While I didn't go in for a “brand” overhaul recently, I did start reconsidering my bio, and what I call myself.
Do what you can to update your approach, and make sure that you have recent samples to share with prospective clients. If your social media profiles are outdated, consider refreshing them. Give your online image a facelift so that you can put your best foot forward with your new clients when they research you.
Hit the Freelance Job Boards
When you lose a big freelance gig, it's back to the job boards. There are plenty of places to look if you want to become an independent contractor. I haven't hit the job boards in a loooong while (and I may not have to, thanks to my awesomely awesome network).
But, once you lose that freelance job, it's time to starting looking. I'm fortunate that my client has already paid for the month of June. Plus, it's not even the middle of the month. I have a little more than two weeks to see if I can get things to pan out.
However, I'll still probably look for freelance jobs, just to get an idea of what's out there, and to hedge my bets. Plus, now might be the time to actually start looking for high paying freelance jobs.
Consider Working on Some of Your Own Projects
The first thing that flashed through my mind when I read that email: DAMN.
The second thing that occurred to me is that I might have a chance to work on some of my own projects. The book I'm writing is kind of bogged down right now. I'd like to start a writing blog. My professional portfolio site looks awful. Some political ranting would be fun.
While I still need to replace some of that income, we're not in such a position where I have to destroy myself replacing all of it. If I could replace half of the income, and then take the time to work on my own projects, I could see bigger profits down the road. Maybe I don't need another big freelance gig.
Perhaps, if you just lost a major freelance job, it's an opportunity in some way. Think of things in that light, and maybe you will get something else going.
What do you think? What do you do when you lose a big freelance gig?