I’ve been working for myself for over two years now and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s VERY up and down. I have a fair few regular clients and ad-hoc clients that come and go – an article here, a press release there, a small invoice and I never hear from them again.
The regular clients are regular in that they keep coming back, but not in the sense that they give me a regular amount of work. One month it might be nothing, the next month it might be six articles, the next month it might be two. The money I earn and the time I spend working is extremely unpredictable.
But, for just over 18 months now, I’ve had two very reliable sources of income. The money hasn’t been great. Coincidentally, it’s exactly the same amount for both of them. But I know I’m guaranteed that work and that money every single month. So even if I don’t have anything else (and I’m pleased to say that’s never happened), I know I’ve got that coming.
One of them I’ve mentioned from time-to-time involves children’s books. It started out as a one month contract, then I got offered a three month contract. And another three month contract. After nine months, I got offered a contract for a year. The money wasn’t as good as it had been, but it was guaranteed money every month and that’s worth a lot. I’m nearly at the end of that contract and I’ve just ummed and aahed, but signed up for another year.
The other job is a social media one – Twitter and Facebook for a smallish local company. They are very hands-off, but happy for me to keep their accounts ticking along, so they had a social media presence. They didn’t ask for reports or expect sales from it, it was enough that the accounts were active. And they were active. Every single working day for 19 months.
But, last week, I got a phone call.
They never ring me. I knew what was coming.
They don’t need me any more.
I’ve done nothing wrong. But they just need to make savings. Isn’t that always the way? Letting go of social media was one small way of making savings.
I was cheerful and nice on the phone.
‘That’s fine, I understand, thanks for letting me know’ with a smile in my voice.
But I felt very sad.
I’d worked very hard for them for a long time. And it was that guaranteed income I was going to be losing. Other clients have simply fizzled out, not giving me any more work because they’d got new permanent staff in. This was the first time I’d actually been let go. And it hurt.
As soon as I wasn’t doing it any more, I realised how much I actually thought about that work. I kept having to banish it from my thoughts. I removed the account from my phone straight away and scheduled my last few tweets with a heavy heart. I didn’t have the enthusiasm to work on it for the last few days of the month. But I did. Because I’m good at my job and that’s just what I do.
Now, how to cover that lost income?!