Freelance life: Farewell, client!

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?!

Freelance, work, computer

Author: Sarah Mummy

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29 Comments

  1. Oh, I’m really sorry to hear that. I totally understand because I’m just the same in terms of work. I have one regular client that I love working with, who provide me with virtually all of my income. I do both writing and social media for them and I’ll be gutted if I lose them! At the moment I’m snowed under and can’t take on any more so it’s useful to know that you have a gap, I’ll let you know if anything comes my way that I can’t take on.x

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    • Thanks very much, I really appreciate that! At the moment it’s not so much a gap as a massive gaping hole 🙁 But I was snowed myself a few weeks ago, that’s just how it goes! x

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  2. Ah I’m sorry to hear that. I know that’s the nature of contracting and freelancing but it’s still sad nonetheless. I hope something even better comes along quickly. Any company would be lucky to snatch you up very quickly x

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    • Thanks very much, that’s such a lovely thing to say! I’m sure something will come along soon. x

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  3. Hope something regular comes along soon or they realise that they can’t manage without you. x

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    • Thanks very much! I don’t think they’ll realise they can’t manage without me, but you never know! x

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  4. Here’s what I’ve found – a client goes, another one comes along that’s better paid/more regular/nicer to deal with/more interesting. It’s not nice if it’s a long term one as you get emotionally involved and end up thinking about them and coming up with ideas which take you way over the hours they actually pay you for, and it does create a bit of a void when they’re gone. BUT now I can’t remember very well the work I did for a lot of past clients. Hell, sometimes I think about them and can’t even remember their names. Sad but true, but time makes you move on and you learn not to dwell on them too much. I’m sure a bigger and better client is just around the corner.

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    • Thanks very much! This is so positive. I haven’t had that many clients who have stuck around as a lot just come to me specifically for one job. I do forget those, but the longer-term ones seem harder to forget.
      I’m sure something will be just around the corner!

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  5. Ah Sarah I am sorry to hear this, and I really hope that something bigger and better is just around the corner x

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    • Thanks very much! Things usually crop up, but it would be nice to have a regular client and regular source of income. x

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  6. Lovely I’m sorry to hear that – remember when one door closes another door opens xxx

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    • That’s so very true! Thanks very much. x

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  7. I am really sorry to hear this Sarah. Something similar happened to me recently so I completely understand how you must feel. Thankfully something else came along fairly soon but it doesn’t change the fact that you feel a bit dented. Hope it comes your way soon xx

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    • Thanks very much! Sorry to hear you went through something similar too, but glad to hear something else came along. I usually find something else comes along too, but I do value the regular income! x

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  8. if you are good at writing, which plainly you are, why don’t you look into writing a book or something? doesn’t help with cash flow at the moment but would keep you busy (ha – doubt you need anything else to keep you busy) and could bring in money in the future.

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    • there is quite a gap in the market in my opinion for children’s books aimed at the advanced young reader who doesn’t want long books but wants more than a picture book. I used to have a blog about children’s books because I had found it all a bit of a minefield when my children taught themselves to read and there was definitely a lack of good books.

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      • That’s a good point! The school told me books were written for older children who struggled to read – so subject matter for a y6 child written for y3 reading level – but not the other way round. I was horrified when my advanced reader read a book at school about drugs and anorexia when he was in y3. Clearly it was never intended for a child of his age to read!

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        • yes that is what we found, a serious lack of appropriate books and yet now they teach phonics a lot of children are reading better, younger (not necessarily comprehending though but that is another story) but there isn’t anything suitable to read. There is a lot of stuff like Rainbow fairies, Horrid Henry etc but I really think we need more for that group of children.

          mind personally I also think we need an interesting reading scheme but sadly I can’t imagine that will ever happen.

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    • That’s a really good idea! It’s not something I’d thought of, but I’ve read so many children’s books over the years I should be able to come up with something! I’m always busy when the kids are around, but not so much when they’re at school, so would be great for filling my time!

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  9. Oh no. I’m so sorry to read this….I hope something else comes along soon for you x

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    • Thanks very much! My fingers are crossed! It usually does come along, but it’s just a bit unpredictable! x

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  10. What a blow! I’m sure with your experience now that something else will come along, I really hope so x

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    • Thanks very much! My fingers are crossed!

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  11. that’s a bummer for you Sarah – especially when it felt like ‘guaranteed’ work. I hope more options pop into your inbox soon. I am just starting to think about monetising blog and have had an enquiry from a company about some products. They want to give them to me, very nice, but what I need is money to pay bills. Do you know a website that can help with negotiating payments etc.? xJo

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    • I”m afraid I have no idea! My blog is very uncommercial! If the right opportunity comes along, I take it, but I’ve never gone looking for it! Good luck in finding something!

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  12. I know the feeling. We lost one at the beginning of the year. They’d been with us for years. A real pain getting paid, but they were nice to work for. Eldest even did work experience with them. It’s hard not to get attached.

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    • That is hard! This was only 19 months, but as I’ve only been in business just over two years, that was a long time!

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  13. Oh I’m sorry to read this Sarah, I can imagine that must have saddened you. But, I absolutely know that you will recoup that work elsewhere and find a better client who pays you what you deserve! You’re got at what you do and that will get your new work. Keep going. You’re an inspiration to many.

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    • Thanks very much, that’s such a lovely thing to say! May has been a very quiet month for me and my invoicing at the end of the month is going to look meagre to say the least, but I’m sure there is something just around the corner!

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