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Most days, I believe freelancing is just about the best thing a parent could do. You stay home yet earn an income and continue growing professionally.
But early this week, something happened that rocked my little home-based world: a client who had earlier agreed to hire me to write a sales page, emailed me to say she decided to work with somebody else who had given her a lower quote.
Some background: she was a returning client, and I moved my schedule around to accommodate her deadline.
I felt a range of emotions:
- disappointment that I had “lost” a job…
- rage, that I had been judged on price alone, and a copywriter of “lesser” value was chosen over me…
- fear, that I would never be able to charge what I felt I was worth and still find clients…
- self-doubt, that I could ever be like those highly-paid copywriters I admire…
When a Client Ditches You
Experiences like this make freelancers think that our lot is truly tough. We rely on clients for work and income, so when they fall through, we feel like a jilted lover.
I still remember the time my first regular client – who had been giving me work weekly for months – suddenly told me she wasn’t hiring me anymore. I felt sick to my stomach. Again, I was filled with self-doubt: did I let her down? Was my work that bad? Is it the end of the world?
The Silver Lining
Needless to say, it wasn’t the end of the world. I found other clients. That client did hire me again, for even bigger jobs. And she has referred a number of other clients to me, a couple of whom became long-term clients.
These little hiccups with clients can sometimes feel bigger or more dramatic than they really are. I just have to look back to my 19 years of working in government service, children’s television and international development to find dozens of incidences when I experienced conflicts – with supervisors, co-workers, program partners and other people. There’s definitely more drama in real life than in email!
The difference is those conflicts don’t usually translate to a loss of income or potential income. Agreed, my forthrightness probably caused me a promotion, but I will never know for sure.
On the other hand, a “broken” relationship with a client has a very concrete result: no work = no income.
Times like this, it’s easy to think that freelancing sucks.
But it’s my style to always look at the bright side of things, look for the silver lining and make the most of any situation.
Look on the Bright Side
For example, shortly after reading that shocking email, I remembered several things:
- I was booked solid until December – at least.
- If a prospect can’t afford my rates, then he or she isn’t my target client (therefore, it would never work out)
- I have other clients waiting for me. In fact, they’ve paid in advance to get into my work schedule. I need to focus on THEM, not on the one who flaked out on me!
Nothing ever goes perfectly, freelancing included. When disappointments arise, we simply have to keep going and keep believing in the value we bring to our clients.
And you know what? Because that client backed out, I had some time available to entertain a new prospect – one who can afford my rates and wants to hire me for the long haul.
As one of my mentors at the UN always used to tell me: “When a door closes, another one opens.”
Do tell: what experiences have made you think that freelancing sucks – and what did you do about it? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.
photo credit: bastique