Freelancing ‘Feast or Famine’: How to Fight and emerge victoriously!

What’s the one thing that you hate about being a freelancer? Inconsistency of workflow, right? One month you are working on 5 projects simultaneously and spending sleepless nights meeting the deadline, and the next month, you are completely out of work and spending sleepless nights worrying about the future and cursing your life choices! What a pickle!

I have been working as a freelance content writer for the last 3 years, and irregular workflow still affects me just as much as it used to, 3 years ago! It doesn’t matter whether you are a seasoned veteran or just starting out, the ‘feast or famine’ situation can and does affect anyone in this business, irrespective of their experience, expertise, or field of work.

While you can never ignore the ‘chance’ factor (things that are out of your control), there are definitely some measures that you can take to leverage both situations and handle your freelancing career like a pro. Take a look:

When it’s FEAST:

1. Don’t bite more than you can chew:

It’s tempting to accept the 6th project of the month because it pays well, or it’s an interesting opportunity. But do you have the time? Can you do justice to the project? Accepting a task and then delivering less-than-perfect work will be unprofessional. The extra workload will affect your already existing assignments too, and it’s possible that you’ll end up losing a few potential clients by word-of-mouth negative publicity.

2. Line up:

When work is overflowing, Lining up your projects is a good idea. Ask your clients whether you can do them a few days later. Schedule the tasks according to their priorities, and complete them one by one. However, don’t play with the deadlines without the client’s permission.

3. Outsource:

Now, this is a little controversial, although a common practice among freelancers. When work pressure is too high, assign some work to someone else. However, be ready to take the responsibility of the risks involved: your teammate/partner might not be as good as you, they might not submit the work on time, or the client might not be happy with the outcome. So, be careful before outsourcing, and always Quality-Control the work yourself to make sure you’re doing justice to your client. It is, after all, the question of your reputation, and in freelancing business, reputation is everything!

4. Don’t compromise with the quality:

“I am popular for my work today” doesn’t translate to “I am allowed to compromise with the quality because the clients will still keep coming”. You are replaceable honey! Everybody is! When you don’t live up to your expectations, nobody has any obligation to keep hiring you. So, a reminder again: Reputation is everything!

5. Don’t stop marketing:

Marketing is not like climbing the Mt. Everest, i.e. once you climb, it’s done; rather, it’s more like Temple Run, a never-ending, continuous process. When you are flooding with work, it’s natural to feel like you’re done with the seek-a-job part. But in freelancing, you have to always keep searching, and keep promoting yourself if you want to continue your success to the next months as well. Otherwise, FAMINE will quickly set in…

Speaking of which, here’s what I do in case of a famine-

When it’s FAMINE:

1. Work for yourself:

When nobody is paying you, you pay for your services yourself. Invest your time and energy to build a better portfolio. Start your own blog or website, get yourself published on famous guest-blogging platforms, or review and edit your old works. These things will not only keep you busy but will also increase your value as a freelancer, and in future, the famine situation will appear less and less for you.

2. Learn new skills:

Another great way to utilize your unproductive time is to learn new skills. There are numerous online platforms available nowadays where you can enroll easily and learn virtually anything related to your job. Be it Unacademy, Swayam, Coursera, or Udemy, the choice is endless. You will never regret the time spent on learning new things.

3. Consider low-paying projects for experience:

When things are tight, you can consider accepting a few projects that pay less than your expectations if they offer 1. A great learning opportunity, 2. Good exposure for your work. Sometimes, money is not the only thing to take away from a project, right?

4. Keep marketing some more:

Needless to say, in times of work famine, you should put on your armor, and get prepared for a full-fledged marketing war. Do the things at this time which you thought of doing but were constrained by time. Congratulations! Now you have the time.

5. Take a vacation:

With work pressure out of your head, it’s time for the long-awaited vacay! Cut yourself some slack and treat yourself for all the good work that you have done. Also, remember, it’s just a phase and it will pass sooner than you’d expected.

So, are you doing these things to become a successful freelancer?


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