A Client A Day Keeps The Poverty Away

Posted: May 11th, 2009

Photo by OTH (Flickr)

Photo by OTH (Flickr)

Last year, given the sudden downturn of the economy, I figured it would be wise to evaluate my own marketing efforts so I’d be able to continue working during what would appear to be rough times. The funny part was that, at the time, I had long term steady work from a couple of clients for a while up to that point and really haven’t looked elsewhere for new clients since I was content with what I had.

Then it finally dawned on me. What if either of my clients suddenly stopped providing work or went belly up? While I’m not quick to panic, it would be unwise to think that these businesses wouldn’t be affected by the economic meltdown. So time for a contingency plan. Pretty easy, though… find more clients, right?

Fast forward to today and I learned the cold reality that this shouldn’t be a contingency plan. Continually looking for clients HAS to be a part of a routine. Plain and simple. Falling into a comfort zone and feeling content with the work you have at the moment can eventually prove fatal to your freelance business.

Why, you ask? It is very common to roll in the work and repeat business and see your freelancing career thriving. Then, BAM, it slaps you upside the face; suddenly no work to do, no income rolling in and you’re out scrambling to find work. What often follows is desperation and taking on work for below your cost. Then the cycle repeats. Welcome to the feast or famine cycle.

Ask any freelancer and for sure they’ll tell you they have been through the cycle at some time or another. All it takes to counter it, though, is one simple step each working day. Just dedicate a half hour or so to searching for just one new project everyday you work. Do the math… if you work 250 days a year, that means you apply to 250 projects. So isn’t it fair to say, you’ll win 10% of them which means you’ll have 25 new clients?

Out of those 25 you may even get a few repeat or long-term clients (if you do your job right of course). The real benefit here, though, is that you greatly lessen the possibility feast or famine cycle and you increase your income in the process. It only costs you a half hour to an hour a workday which we all have, right? OK, so I had to cut down my time spent checking out highlights on the ESPN website but, hey, I’m not regretting it.

And what if you are just too busy with projects to spend that hour looking for new ones? Spend that half hour looking for one anyway. The point is to get into the habit of always looking for clients. Skip a day and you ditch the habit like a New Year’s resolution. You may come to regret it when a big project gets done, no new one is lined up then rent is due in a couple weeks.

Then there is always the issue of happening to win new projects if you are just too busy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is called business growth. Schedule these for way in advance, after current projects are done, or subcontract these projects or even just turn down the project offer.

Believe me, you will rather have the problem of too much work rather than too little.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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