How I Got Through My Worst Month of Freelancing

The lowest month since I started.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I lost a client WHILE on vacation in another country — my first real non-working vacation since starting my business in November 2016.

And of course, that sucked.

After coming home from my vacation and jumping back into work, I discovered one my clients was MIA and still have yet to get them on the phone, though she has texted saying she still plans on working with me. I haven’t spoken to her or gotten paid in two months now, even though she pops into my email from time to time.

A third client said he had a slow sales month and asked if we could “pick back up next month (April).” Which has not happened. However, we have spoken and he does seem to genuinely want to continue working together…so we’ll see?

That’s right. I lost three clients in the month of March — half of my total monthly retainer clients and almost half of my income!

I had been so incredibly busy in February doing a ton of work ahead of time so that I could not to do work while on vacation that I didn’t practice one of my three rules for fighting the down cycles of freelancing: I was not continuing to market myself.

My only excuse is that I was completely maxed out on clients and work and was just really busy from January 1 through then. I claimed I didn’t have time and couldn’t take on any more work anyway. I dropped the ball.

While March was still a good month because of previous clients and projects which were paid, April wasn’t looking too hot.

Freelancers really don’t get paid time off, people.

What Did I Do?

I’ll tell you what I did!

I stressed the hell out. I had an anxiety ball in my stomach.

And I got to work.

I went onto sites like ProBlogger and Craigslist to check on job postings and threw my hat into the ring for a few that looked promising — and quick.

I posted on my social media platforms that I had openings for a couple new clients.

I started marketing myself on Instagram again.

I kept stressing out about how my April income was going to be sad.

I made plans, had ideas, wondered about whether I should start writing my next book.

And I waited.

What Happened?

Well, I haven’t picked up additional monthly clients at this time. And I avoided a few sketchy-looking clients from Craigslist and random emails I received.

But I did find three amazing new long-term project clients!

One is a referral from a current client who needs book coaching and developmental editing.

One is a referral from a previous client who needs an editor on her first book who is awesome. She and I clicked immediately and I can’t wait to work with her.

One found me in a most interesting way. Not from marketing or referrals or Instagram. But someone who saw the advice I give sometimes on a Reddit sub specifically for freelance writers. He saw a few comments I made giving advice, liked it, found my website through my bio, and emailed me! After a couple conversations, we are already working together on a very cool sports and business book!

And Now

Now I keep moving forward. I keep marketing myself and my business. I try to stress out less and trust the process.

I don’t think I have ever or will ever feel truly comfortable or like I have everything figured out, especially since freelancing is so much more precarious than a traditional business selling goods and services, but I continue to love what I do even when it’s tough.

I also have some really cool ideas for the future, for my next book and potentially a book writing course and maybe even a writing retreat somewhere interesting.

I love looking forward and seeing all the possibilities. Even when the now is a little tough to see through.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your business? How did you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you and learn from your story!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Join my mailing list for more info (not spam!) or check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book!

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store