A lot of creative professionals become freelancers because it gives them the freedom to work on projects they enjoy, make their own schedule and pursue personal goals. But life as a freelancer is stressful for some. Income and schedules can be unpredictable, and finding clients requires constant effort. These stresses can lead to anxiety and sometimes spur people to look for full-time jobs so they can stop worrying about whether they’ll be able to pay their bills.
There are other solutions, though. Building long-term relationships with your clients is one way to bring down your stress levels and enjoy freelance life more. Last year, more than 80 per cent of my income came from long-term and repeat clients. Let’s look at the main reasons these clients make my life less stressful.
1. Taming the “feast or famine” cycle
Many freelancers take every job that’s offered to them because they’re afraid to turn down income. They work ridiculously long hours, have no time to do any marketing or networking, and then end up in a dry spell. This causes them to panic and take on too much work once again. The classic “feast or famine” cycle can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Having long-term clients breaks the cycle because they often book you for ongoing work or establish a pattern, so you know how much work to expect from them and when. Suddenly you don’t need to panic about running out of work (or money). With a few long-term clients lined up, you can fill the rest of your schedule with projects that get you really excited and not just take whatever comes your way.
2. Making editing more efficient
Every time you start working with a new client, there’s stress and inefficiency because you don’t know what they’re expecting from you or how much back-and-forth will be required to make them happy.
Once you’ve worked with a client for a while, you’ll have a better idea of how involved they want to be, what style they prefer and which suggestions they’ll reject. After getting to know their preferences, it will be easier and faster for you to edit their work and deliver the product they want. You will also earn their trust, so they will be less likely to check in constantly or ask you to justify every edit. All of this reduces the stress of working with them.
3. Spending less time on marketing
Every hour you spend on marketing, making cold calls or applying for work is an hour that you aren’t working for pay — which can make it feel like wasted time. Many editors also find the marketing side of their business stressful because they’re uncomfortable “selling” themselves.
The more of your schedule you can fill with long-term clients, the fewer new clients you’ll need to find, and the less time you’ll need to spend marketing.
There are actually two more ways that long-term clients can make your life less stressful, which I’ll reveal in my session, “Get Into a Long-term Relationship With Your Clients,” at the 2022 Editors Canada online conference. I’ll be explaining how to find and keep your ideal long-term clients and reduce the stress of freelancing.
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