How do you handle the feast and famine syndrome?

Posted on: October 27th, 2011

Every freelancer experiences the feast and famine syndrome. One minute you’re swamped with work and not sure how to cope. The next, you have no idea where the next project is coming from – or how to pay your monthly bills.

You can’t avoid the feast and famine experience, but here are a few tips on how to mitigate the effect:

1. Find ongoing projects – rather than one-offs. So, as a writer, for me that means targeting clients who need a monthly newsletter or a series of case studies/press releases. Even annual reports are ongoing, as they come round once a year.

2. Secure a retainer. When I did PR, I was on a monthly retainer with all my clients, so I always had a regular amount coming in each month.

3. Build a network of trusted fellow freelancers. When you are so busy you can’t possibly cope and your clients won’t budge on deadlines, then you will need to call on the help of other freelancers. Make sure you know at least two or three talented people who you know will do a great job. You will have to pay them, of course, but when they are busy, they may well return the favour.

4. Build your buffer. Get in the habit of putting away money during your feast times to help you through your famine.

5. Secure a second (or third) string to your bow.  You could boost your income by monetising your blog, setting up a shop on eBay or Amazon, or selling an e-book. You could even give coaching sessions (you’re an expert in your chosen freelance field, after all, so there are bound to be others who will want to learn from your expertise).

What are your strategies for coping with periods of feast and famine?

2 Responses to “How do you handle the feast and famine syndrome?”

  1. dojo
    October 29th, 2011

    Saving money is always a great idea, especially since we also like to travel. When I can’t work, I have something ‘deposited’. All the other tips are great indeed. I’d add: create at least one site that would get you some revenue (to complete your 5th tip). My blog is currently earning me a salary, even if I just post there once a day. It’s not a huge revenue just yet, but it does pay some bills ;)

  2. Carole Seawert
    October 30th, 2011

    Hi Ramona

    Love your new blog – and great to hear it’s earning you money. Do you still have your freelance forum?


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