Understanding the risks and uncertainties that come with freelancing doesn’t make it easier to turn down a project. Losing a client feels like a punch to the gut. You won’t even have time to deal with your feelings because you have to find a new project right away. Otherwise, the workflow gap will compromise your income.
Although challenging, moving on from project closure is not impossible. Let’s dive into some simple, actionable tips to help you bounce back after losing a high-paying gig.
1. Communicate with the client
Clients may let you go for a variety of reasons, from internal budget cuts to major work style differences. Unfortunately, some freelance projects can end on a sour note. You might not even want to deal with demanding, challenging customers who treat you poorly.
Whatever happened, be sure to express your gratitude before parting ways. Politely ask for a performance appraisal, find out why they decided to let you go, and thank them for the opportunity to collaborate. Try to turn your loss into a learning opportunity.
Also, don’t burn bridges. Save their contact information, work email, and past projects so you can reach out to them if they need your services again.
2. Objectively assess what happened
If the client dumped you for your performance issues, objectively assess yourself before taking on other gigs. Try to fix recurring problems. Bad habits will eventually create an unhealthy system and compromise your output—taking away potential.
Also, consider measuring your output for accurate estimation. Most freelancers are not aware of the quality of their work as they do performance reviews from memory. Insights based on memories are biased.
Instead, review your output based on key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your area of expertise. Let’s say you are a copywriter. You can aggregate your past sales copies and score them on factors such as your writing speed, grammar, page views and conversion rates. Record your scores on Google Sheets or MS Excel.
3. Realize It May Not Be Your Fault
Many freelancers fear that losing clients means you produce terrible, but that’s not the case. Termination of contract does not necessarily reflect badly on you.
Again, projects come to an end for a variety of reasons. And after leaving some of them, you’ll realize that clients also deal with issues like budget constraints or company restructuring. Never take project closure personally.
Third-party complications are beyond your control. The best approach is to manage your expectations by doing online research of potential companies and clients before you go freelance.
Websites like Glassdoor and IndeedCollect will provide you with information on almost any employer around the world. Current and former employees alike can leave reviews on these platforms. If your potential client receives a lot of negative comments about their daily workload, management style, and freelancing rates, think twice before applying.
4. Calculate Your Finances
Unlike full-time employees, freelancers do not receive a fixed salary. Although you earn more by taking on multiple clients at once, your income may also decrease if you lose all your projects.
At the same time, it is not impossible to recover financially from losing a high-paying client if you manage your money well. Calculate how many gigs you need to meet your income goal. If you have minimal experience in accounting, use customizable finance templates to simplify computations.
Also, set aside at least six months’ worth of expenses. You cannot make wise decisions for your freelancing business if you are constantly afraid of running out of money. Focus on honing your craft and landing lucrative clients.
5. Update Your Portfolio
Ask your client’s permission to add the work you’ve done for them to your portfolio. You’ve grown since you started working with them, so you need to replace old samples that no longer represent your skills. A quality portfolio will make prospecting much easier.
Also, use this time to work on your personal website if you have one. Doing freelance work with site maintenance is challenging. Once your pipeline is filled with new projects, you may not have many more opportunities to do so.