Freelance life is a notorious rollercoaster of highs and lows and often you’re riding it alone. This can make it really hard to keep going and to bounce back from any setbacks. With nearly 30 years of freelancing experience between them, Sarah Townsend and Sophie Cross share their advice on making a comeback from the toughest times.
Freelance life highs and lows
The freedom freelancing can afford you can be brilliant if only you could ever turn down work. You can flit between feeling like you’ve taken too much on, to worrying that you don’t have enough coming up, sometimes in the same afternoon! You can learn to be very resilient but you can also be very sensitive. After all, it’s often only you making all of the decisions. You get 100% of the highs and 100% of the lows and it’s not always easy to put things in perspective or know what to prioritise when you work alone a lot of the time.
7 big things you might have to bounce back from as a freelancer
- Losing out on a pitch
- Losing a big client
- Feeling out of your depth
- Getting negative feedback
- Quiet periods
- A nightmare client
Let’s take a look at each of these and the ways you can bounce back…
1. Losing out on a pitch
You can’t go solo without putting yourself out there in the metaphorical firing line and being vulnerable, and having the ability to take criticism professionally, not personally, is a useful skill to cultivate.
But when you’re responsible for paying the mortgage or the rent each month, every client that doesn’t convert, every email that goes unanswered, and every proposal that’s rejected can increase stress and knock your confidence. Working on your emotional resilience can help you deal with pressure and reduce the impact of stress. I share strategies on how to boost your resilience in Survival Skills for Freelancers.
Remember, there are many ways in which rejection really isn’t personal. Perhaps your timing is wrong, your prices are too high (or too low), your approach isn’t compatible, or you’re simply the wrong fit for either the job or the client – so don’t lose hope. Try to get some feedback from the client so you can improve next time.
2. Losing a big client
It’s always worth considering what percentage of your income comes from each of your clients. Spread the risk by having more clients and making sure none of them contributes more than 40% of your income. It’s pertinent to put aside money for your tax bill but also to cover any periods when you have to look for new business.
If you need to replace a big client, first review what went well and what didn’t go so well. If you got one client, you can definitely get another. Look back at how you won other business and for the lowest hanging fruit in your connections. Reconnect with people and remind them how you can help them. Ask your other clients if they might have more projects that you can help with.
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3. Feeling out of your depth
We’re all human, and we all experience self-doubt and the fear of failure from time to time. The important thing is not to let these negative feelings hold you back. Remember, you are worthy, you do deserve success, and you are good enough.
In Survival Skills for Freelancers I cover six simple steps to help you keep self-doubt and imposter syndrome in check:
- Accept mistakes: you fail, you learn, you grow.
- Stop comparing yourself: put an end to ‘comparison-itis’.
- Keep talking: you’re never alone with these feelings.
- Reward yourself for taking risks: remember, excitement and fear feel the same .
- Celebrate your successes: take time to reflect on your wins.
- List the things you’re good at, pin it up and read it regularly.