What to do When You Lose a Big Freelance Gig

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:

/disapprove

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 If your social media profiles are outdated, consider refreshing them.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.

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool people

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?

0 thoughts on “What to do When You Lose a Big Freelance Gig”

  1. Great post! This is something that I definitely need to think about when I make the switch.

    I’m sorry that you lost a gig that you’ve had for so long.

  2. I love your approach! Sorry to hear about your loss. I would imagine with your skill set that you’ll make up the difference in no time. Good luck to you!

  3. When I saw the title, before I even read the post, my first thought was that this just might be the break you’re looking for. You’ve been a bit fatigued with so much writing, and you’ve been wanting to explore higher paying job opportunities. Now is the perfect time to do just that.

  4. Very sorry to hear, but I think your attitude and the way you are handling it will make all the difference in the long-run. Like you said, this will probably be a great thing for you down the line and lead to projects with bigger potential. Best of luck!

  5. Tushar @ Everything Finance

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost a big client. I’m sure you’ll find another soon though, that will replace your income loss. Sounds like it came at a bad time for you though.

  6. Miranda Marquit

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind words and the encouragement!

    You’re right, Melissa, that I was becoming a bit bogged down. This is probably a blessing in disguise. One of the things I’m very excited about is that one of my very favorite people contacted me about a possibility. I don’t know if it will pan out, but I’d love to work with this person.

    So, we’ll see where this leads. Hopefully, it will be somewhere good 🙂

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I guess it depends. In my case, I don’t think it does. If you are finishing a gig as a result of an unexpected event, or if the client can’t afford you, or for some other similar reason, that isn’t a big deal. Most freelancers (and those that hire them) know that there’s always turnover. Freelancers are always finishing gigs and getting new gigs. It’s part of the landscape, and most people know that.

      If you did a grossly incompetent job, it’s a different story, though. Letting others know that you were “fired” because you did poorly can damage your reputation.

  7. Jeffrey Trull

    I’m guessing this wasn’t one of your lower-paying clients you were considering dropping from the last post. But I hope it’s an opportunity to find some higher-paying clients, too!

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I might also just use the extra time to work on other projects. I need to figure it out. Unfortunately, my camping trip this past weekend just didn’t provide the clarity I’d hoped for. But I had a good time anyway.

  8. Miranda, I like your advice on losing a big client. My personal thoughts on this matter is that there are many things out of your own control. I think the best thing to do is just move on and keep working hard at bringing in more clients and hopefully you’ll make up for it in the future. I wish you the best of luck.

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