Here’s Why Freelancers Should be Pocket-Watching

You should follow your clients and watch their pockets—because their money is your money.

Tracking your clients isn’t nosey, pressed, or desperate. It’s not an indication you need to get a life.

It’s due diligence.

Freelancing already tends to be volatile. But some financial shocks are avoidable because they’re predictable.

A lot of times, there are signs that clients are facing financial struggles, that there’s about to be a pullback in their spending, or that they’re not going to renew a contract.

But you can’t see the signs if you’re not looking.

Pocket-watching reduces volatility

One way to reduce income volatility is to be prepared for changes in your clients’ spending.

I’m not saying you need to add your clients to your social feeds (Although it’s a good idea if they’re in your major league, meaning your big spenders).  What I’m saying is you should stay up on your clients and their industry.

For those clients that release financials, check that paperwork. Pay attention to signs that your clients’ money is tight, there are credit issues, the company is making cuts, and any talk about new owners.

When money is getting tight, whether it’s cash or credit, many companies will cut outside services, like freelancers, and shift that work to their staff.

When a company decides it needs to trim spending, the first cuts are often in parts of the budget that fund freelancers and content creators, like the company’s advertising and marketing spend.

See: Why It’s Time to Start Creating Shorter Content

And when companies are sold, they’ll often go in a whole different direction with completely different folks. Never take for granted that when a company changes hands, your role or relationships will get passed along. From experience, I can tell you, a lot of times, it doesn’t go down like that.

Don’t just rely on the information that comes from your clients, either. Do some research.

Check the news. See what kind of headlines your clients are making. See who and what they’re connected to.

Look your clients up on social media. Check the blogosphere. See what their peers say.

One source of information that’s often undervalued, if not completely overlooked, is a client’s competition. This may come as a shocker, but people talk about each other. And some of that chatter could be beneficial to you.

When you’re checking what the media or the streets are saying, investigate whether your clients are in any crosshairs.

Are they facing lawsuits or problems with regulators? Is their industry in any power players’ sights? Do they have enemies gunning for them? Are they embroiled in any beef?

Also, determine if your client’s product or service is any good. Where you find bad business, you’ll likely find financial issues coming down the pike.

Keep on the lookout for things that could have a financial impact on your clients or take them down.

A lot of times, a client’s downfall unwinds publicly and the effect it’ll have on you is foreseeable.

This advice applies to clients at all levels in all realms of business. Bar none.

This advice also applies to sponsors. If your work or platform relies heavily on sponsors, pay attention to your major leaguers.

Tracking your clients’ affairs puts you in a position to move faster and make decisions to keep your income stable.

But that only works if you make good use of the info you gather. So… See something, Do something about it!

Now, Listen to:

How To Spot Red Flags in Freelance Job Ads