If you’re going through a freelancing feast, you’ll be facing an all new set of problems that you never even dreamed of when you were experiencing the famine at the beginning of your career and hoped for heaps of work. Last week, we talked about different decisions and actions you can take to deal with freelancing feast. Now it’s time to talk about some planning, business decision-making and plain old perception of your business and work.
Here are some of the things I do during my feast times.
The unmissable jobs
You are already booked solid for weeks when a great job lands in your inbox. The subject is interesting, the work is easy and the money is good. Very good. To top it all off, it’s your favorite client. You can see that this job has your name written all over it. But, there’s just no free time in your schedule!
It’s time to juggle a few things and make room for this awesome job. Ask for a different deadline or check if you can move your other deadlines. However, it’s never a good option to lose sleep so you can complete the job (that’s more of a personal reminder for me to stop doing that).
Raise your rates
Your clients appreciate the quality of your work, they extend deadlines to make sure the job is assigned to you and you only receive good feedback from the projects you’ve worked on. What more proof do you want that it’s time to raise your rates? Don’t go crazy, you can’t raise them by 50% at once, try a 10%-15% increase and see how it goes. Don’t forget to offer new clients your new rates as well.
This way, the ones who were hiring you for your rates only will let you go. And before you panic, let me tell you that you didn’t need them in the first place. You want clients who value your work so much they’re willing to pay premium price.
The clients who stay with you are the ones you want to work with. They know what a great job you do. They appreciate all the extra effort you put into their work and they know that your raised rates ensure that you’ll keep providing them with stellar work.
Fire a few clients
If your work is going well and you’ve been very busy for a long time, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your client basis. You get new clients all the time, right? How will you make room for more if you don’t let some of the old ones go?
Every freelancer has different reasons for updating their client database. Some of the factors that affect my decisions on replacing existing clients with new ones are:
- Rates: Some clients refuse to comply with your new rates or their budget doesn’t allow it. They keep asking for discounts or want to stick to your 2005 rates.
- Projects: The work isn’t as satisfying, requires more time than others, it’s not within your top specializations or interests and doesn’t pay enough to justify the hours you spend working on something that doesn’t interest you.
- Payment terms: Talk about variety: some pay within a week while others have a 90-day policy. Set your own payment terms and stop working with clients that don’t accept them.
- Communication: The client or Project Manager sends you 15 emails with instructions about a $30 job. He is rude and demands a reply to all his emails and calls right away. He has never said a kind word or thank you or even confirmed receipt of the deliverables. He never replies to your project-related questions, wants you to use software you’re not familiar with or don’t like etc.
In all the cases above, tell your client the truth in a polite and nice way and recommend them to colleague who doesn’t have a problem with the issues that were bothering you.
Believe in yourself and your capabilities
You’ve been through famine periods and know how it is the other way round. You don’t want to see your bank account empty again. You’re afraid to go on vacation and leave your computer behind because you think your client won’t contact you again if you are unavailable when he asks for your help. After so many days of working non-stop, you have forgotten what it’s like to just relax or what weekends and days off are for.
If you’ve prepared well money-wise, you shouldn’t be afraid of taking breaks. In fact, you should look forward to them. You’re going through a freelancing feast. This is the perfect time to take a break. After all, you’re too busy looking or work during a famine to take a break then!
You owe it to yourself, your business and your family to enjoy work-free weekends and holidays. Your work will be better when you come back and your clients will still be there. And don’t forget the most important thing: you didn’t get to experience the feast period by being bad at your work, you’re good at what you do and lots of clients want to work with you. That won’t stop because you left your office to clear your head for a few days.
Think of the money
That sounds wrong, doesn’t it? But sometimes it works, at least for me. Whenever I’m too busy and stressed out with work, I think of the money I’ll get for the projects I’m working on and book a trip as an incentive to finish my work. Travel works for me, but there are many things you can use. A debt that’s been bothering you for a long time, the credit card bill from your last spending spree, a nice dress/gadget, an investment for your business, such as a new PC, software etc. are all good reasons to finish that job.
Last but not least, keep marketing!
That’s a must for both famine and feast periods. To keep busy after the feast period is over, you have to continue marketing even when you have more work that you’d have wished for. Find even a few hours each week in your crazy work schedule to contact new clients, update your website/blog or attend a networking event.
As with the famine periods, positive attitude is a must-have. Don’t panic and don’t take it out on your health and family. Things will calm down after a while, your work schedule will be back to normal and life will be good again!
Tell us your experience with feast cycles. How did it affect you and what did you do to get through it?