With freelance work comes the feast or famine syndrome

Posted on: July 16th, 2010

Managing workloads and keeping a regular flow of projects is hard when you’re freelance. No matter how much you try and organise your time, there’s always a project that gets cancelled or postponed.

So, when you thought you were going to be mega busy, it turns out you have nothing to do. When you have a famine, the main problem is cashflow. So try to build up a buffer of money that you can draw on when work is thin on the ground.

Conversely, when you have a number of consecutive projects nicely lined up, they all end up happening at once due to circumstances completely beyond your control. If you are swamped with work (and that’s a nice problem to have), talk to your clients. It could be that an ‘urgent’ project could actually wait until next month. Don’t feel panicked by deadlines – in most cases they can be moved.

Think about subcontracting

If you genuinely ARE snowed under, there are only so many hours in the day. If you are suffering from a deluge of projects, the quality of your work will be compromised if you try and do it all. A tip here is to subcontract it to another freelancer whose work you trust.

I once won a mega project to write a building society’s website. The deadline was fixed and there was no way I could get it all done by myself. I didn’t want to lose the project so I brought on another writer and we proved to the client we could both write in the same style and voice.

We both did 50% of the writing and delivered it on time. But keep control of the work in situations like this and make sure you remain the main contact, or you risk losing future projects to those whose names you passed on.

How do you cope when you’re faced with a feast or famine situation?

7 Responses to “With freelance work comes the feast or famine syndrome”

  1. Lukas, Designer
    July 16th, 2010

    I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. That was said once by Douglas Adams, humorist & science fiction novelist.
    I love that sentence. Obviously I shouldn’t say that as I am a freelancer myself, but I think each and every one of us have heard that sound at least once…
    Nice article Carole.
    From what I can say most delays are on the site clients. They are never ready with the brief or the files you ask them. They seem to have all the time of this world on their hands and think that your work is just 5 minutes. Don’t we know it as well?

  2. Carole
    July 16th, 2010

    Yes, that quote from Douglas Adams is one of my favourites.

    A typical ‘urgent’ job is one where the client makes you drop everything else so you can make their unrealistic deadline. They then sit on your work for a week and expect you to turn round their comments by lunchtime – even though you may be in a meeting at another client all morning.

    (Ahem, of course none of my CURRENT clients is like this. :) )

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carole Seawert and Carole Seawert, The Money Book. The Money Book said: Feast or Famine Syndrome in #Freelancing: http://bit.ly/9Z001M (when the work's gushing, would you ever consider subcontracting?) [...]

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    July 21st, 2010

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  7. Carole
    July 25th, 2010

    @federal grants, @emttraining, @dental hygenist
    Many thanks for your encouraging feedback, guys. Much appreciated. :)

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