Client! Where art thou?

It’s Wednesday. 1pm. You are refreshing your email for 27th time in the past hour. No job inquiries. Panicking much?

And I am talking about truly panicking when two weeks have passed and there is no new project on the horizon. You have updated your profiles on every single freelance platform, even on the one that you haven’t opened since 2013, contacted all of your referrals, but still no luck. You are on the edge of writing a Facebook post requesting for a job. Don’t do that… Please… Never. Upgrading your freelance career is not so easy. You want to find jobs, but yet don’t want to look desperate because no good designer ever have a time with no projects, which by the way is such a lie.

Keep calm

When you are feeling anxious about the situation you are in, the chances of you making a bad decision are much greater. These are perfect surroundings for a client to take advantage of you and your time. You are ready to take any kind of work, regardless of how much is paid or what the client asks from you.

Client: What is your work profile?
You: I am an experienced mobile UX designer.
Client: I need you to create a cover image design for an ad banner, find 34 stock photos of people artificially smiling, apply each photo to the banner so I can choose, walk my dog, fly to the moon and back, and all to be done by Sunday.
You: I’ll take it!

And suddenly you have fulfilled the need to have a project, thinking that the bad days are gone, but when you wake up in the morning you will realize that you are in a worse situation than previously. Regardless of the circumstances, you should never decrease your value or forget the scheme that you always use when a project comes by. You know you don’t wanna search for stupid stock photos all day, so why did you agreed on the job in the first place. Choose your jobs carefully, always having in mind your expertise. That is the key for you to not be stuck in a situation like this. Usually, this type of clients request much more than they have bargained for. And if you are familiar with Murphy laws, the minute you accept an a job like this, at least 3 better opportunities will come your way. What happens then?

Overwhelmed!

Yesterday you had no job, and today you have accepted 3 new projects, including the one you are not keen to work on. So you have your daily task list, and you keep pushing that obligation further and further back, and give priority to the projects you really enjoy working. The thing is that, even though you are working on something you love, in the back of your mind you will always have that one project you’ve accepted because you had “no way out”… aparently. To sum up, your day will be stressed, you will be unmotivated and that is a problem. Since you always love what you do, correct?

Now what?

You don’t want to be unprofessional and cancel it. But yet, you don’t want to work on it either. From my experience, I suggest you give it a chance. Usually, I give the clients a trial period, for which they are not even aware of. Basically, taking into consideration the time you have, you can give this guy a trial for, let’s say, one week. You can do that! If you see that the project is not going so well, the client is not appreciative of your skills, and they request changes that are not logic, maybe it’s time to walk away. The more you appreciate yourself, the more others will too. And if it goes well, great! You have another successful project, money on the way and a lesson learned.

How to always have a project?

If you want to be a professional and successful freelancer, you must now how to manage your time. By that I mean, you always need to have a list of all projects pending, all projects ongoing and tasks for each one. You should now your own strength of how many projects you can take at one time. All that depends on the project size and your responsibilities on it. Is it a website, mobile app? Redesign or complete UX/UI creation? Once you do this, you need to make sure to keep track of their progress. When you see that one project is coming to an end, it is usually time to start searching for another one. So keep your applications on the go! Of course, from time to time, gaps will exist, but hey… you now know what to do :)