When you’re a freelancer, losing clients is part of the game. But that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
Losing a major client feels like that moment when you’re at the top of a roller coaster and it starts to drop. Gravity seems to grip the bottom of your stomach and stretch it down to a place you don’t normally know is inside of you.
When you get that feeling on a ride, it’s thrilling because it’s so quick that you only flirt with danger. When you experience it drawn out in the day-to-day reality of a freelancer, it’s sickening.
It causes anxiety.
It plagues you with stress.
When we feel that way, it’s in our nature to reach for the first thing that’ll make us feel better.
In this case, that would likely be the first new client that comes along.
But be careful about letting panic take over. Hasty decisions could set your freelance business back long-term.
Weighing Client Decisions
They say when one door closes another opens.
But all doors don’t lead to equal opportunities.
If you start taking lower-paying, lower-skilled jobs, you’ll screw up your money and possibly your image and plans.
Related: Low-Paying Jobs, Should You Take Them?
When I lost one of my clients earlier this year, I responded to an ad for slideshow creators. The editor called and we talked.
They wanted three 20-page slideshows per week and were offering $75 each.
Pursuing that opportunity would mean committing to 6,000 words a week and sourcing 60 images for $225.
Now that’s an offer I might have been compelled to take if I was dead broke or if this was one of my first writing jobs. But at this point, that role doesn’t fit my program.
It requires too much and pays too little.
I would have to invest more time than I spent on my previous client for a fraction of the revenue. Since the day isn’t getting any longer, I would have to take that time from somewhere.
Would it be this site? Other clients? The early-stage projects that I’m working on.
The answer is none of the above.
For me, that role wasn’t an opportunity. It was a step backward. I’m in a growth phase.
Consider Your Image
Going backward can screw up your resume.
Say you’re writing for the New York Times and the paper cuts it freelance pool. You want to keep money rolling in so you start writing for Bunny’s Bakery News, and you stick with it for two years.
Granted, you’ve filled a void. But having Bunny’s Bakery News lingering at the top of your resume isn’t as attractive as your previous position.
The longer you spend caught in this role, the harder it will be for you to get another New York Times-level client.
A lot of outsiders will see it as a downgrade and won’t give you an opportunity to explain it.
Even if you can patch together several less prestigious clients and make the same amount of money as you did with the client you lost, ask yourself–Am I growing, maintaining, or backtracking?
Factor in the time. Factor in the resources. Factor in, what if anything, you’re sacrificing.
When you’re running a freelance business, you have to be strategic. You can’t let fear take over.
Of course, I’m not saying to put yourself in a situation where you can’t eat or pay your bills. But don’t turn a temporary fix into a long-term solution. And don’t let losing a client cause you to downgrade.