How to Get Over the Loss of a Long-Term Freelance Gig

Tamara Lužajić
Jun 16, 2019 · 4 min read

When finding a new project takes a long time, but giving up is not an option.

Unless you’re a freelancer who prefers quick gigs, you already know the perks of having a long-term project. First of all, it’s the closest thing to having a full-time job, without strict work hours and that one colleague who sneezes 16 times in a row.

Long-term freelance gigs provide financial security. You probably have a strong relationship and good communication with your client and projects run smoothly.

Unfortunately, everything also comes to an end. You know the story: you work for a client for months, maybe even years. You like the work you do, and they like how you do it.

But then, the news strikes you like thunder. “So there’s something I’d like to share with you,” or you receive an email that starts with “Unfortunately, this project has been canceled.”

That rarely means something good. Usually, it means that the long-term project that you relied on for so long has come to an end. It’s natural, it happens to everyone, but it hurts.

You didn’t expect it to end now (or ever) and now you have to start all over again. Searching, interviewing, getting rejected, or ignored until you find something else.

Unless you’re a superstar like Neil Patel, and jobs come to you, this is the moment when you need to roll up your sleeves and dig deep.

And even though people around you will often tell you that you’ll find another gig just like you found this one, you know it’s not that easy. After all, you don’t want another one — you want this one back! But it doesn’t work that way and here’s what you can actually do about it.

If your long-term client liked how you did your job, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t recommend you to someone else. Make sure you ask them if they have a new project they’d be willing to share with you or if they know someone who needs a good freelancer like you.

Have in mind that your clients are just as busy as everyone else, so they might need a reminder that you are open for new projects after this one is finished.

When your contract ends, thank the client for everything they’ve done for you and for the great cooperation you had. Send them an email and be clear about your position: ask them if anyone else on their team has a project for you or if they know someone else who has.

Leave them your personal email and let them know they can reach you any time. Remember, everything that you do well today has an impact on your life. Maybe not tomorrow, but definitely sometimes in the future. So make sure that every contact you make counts.

2. Let everyone else know that you’re looking for a job

Looking for a new freelance gig is not much different than looking for a full-time job; it includes telling everyone you know that you are officially open for new projects.

Take some time to make a list of people you can reach out to. Think of your friends, former colleagues, people you met while networking.

Go through the contacts on your social media, the cards in your wallet, the events you visited in the past months (or even years).

So before you go to usual places to find work (such as Upwork), try telling people you know first.

3. Make a fresh start

Clean your desk, delete all the files and documents you’re not using anymore. It’s like opening a window in your room and letting the fresh air come in.

While it’s easy to get accustomed to good things, (such as having steady incomes from long-term clients) sometimes the lack of change is bad for business. Things need to change and, even if it means a little bit of struggle from time to time, it’s a good thing. Remember, there is no progress without change.

Good things take time.

Freelancers treat their computers like their offices, so make a big cleaning in your office and get ready to start the search for the next big thing. Get up early, finish your morning rituals, and start looking.

4. Create something for yourself and post it online

There are not many perks of losing a freelance job, but if I need to pick one, it would be having more time on your hands. Now that you don’t have to work for someone else, you can finally do something for yourself.

Finish the things you’ve been planning to do, but you never had the time; write an original piece of content, draw something, brainstorm that idea you had a while ago, but you were just too tired to make something out of it.

5. Be patient

Good things take time. For me, being patient has always been the most difficult step.

In my experience, the best clients found me and not vice versa. Sure, whenever I was looking for a new gig, I eventually found something I liked.

But thanks to my already established profile on Upwork, some of the best clients reached out to me, and it was during times when I wasn’t even looking for new projects.

So try not to panic and don’t say yes to everything just because you are desperate. It worked for me, and I am sure it will work for you too.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +725K followers.

Tamara Lužajić

Written by

Writer, not a preacher. I write about work, life, and what happens in between.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +725K followers.

Tamara Lužajić

Written by

Writer, not a preacher. I write about work, life, and what happens in between.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +725K followers.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store