Contracting Realities

I do my best to share the less-than-ideal side of freelancing on this blog so you aren’t caught off guard when unfortunate things happen. This past month, I learned that one of my customers would not be renewing their contract. While this situation won’t break the bank, it will force me to make adjustments.

Why Did This Happen?

My understanding is that the customer did not want to spend money for editing services. That’s their call. I can speculate on whether that’s a reflection on my work or their priorities, but the reality is that this customer might still need my services in the future (this has happened before). I will be following up on why this happened.

What Does This Mean?

In practical terms, obviously I will not be making as much as money this year as I’d planned. This means that expenses I’d hoped to handle with that money will have to come from somewhere else.

On the plus side, the primary thing the money from that client covered was my quarterly tax payment. With my income dropping, my quarterly estimated taxes will drop by quite a bit, so I won’t have to set aside quite as much.

Alternative Responses

Obviously I’d still like to make (approximately) what I made last year, but that isn’t always possible. What I did do was reach out to another customer and see if they had additional work for me to do. As it turns out, they do, so I should be able to make up part of the difference.

(Note: I didn’t mention the other customer’s behavior. I might have tried that as a way to play on her sympathy, but really my other clients are not that client’s problem. Also, mentioning the cancelation of that contract could have backfired. The non-canceling customer might have suspected that something was horribly awry with my business.)

If an existing customer did not have additional work for me to pick up, I would have to go hunting for additional work elsewhere. Not impossible, just more work.

Another option would be to tighten the belt a bit and make certain my expenses remain within my revised-down income.

Bottom Line

If you have multiple clients, one client canceling need not be the end of the world. It could temporarily affect your income. If you have only one client, the situation becomes more dire and you’ll have to make some serious adjustments in short order. It never hurts to review your current workload and determine your options if you suddenly find yourself without one more more sources of income. Stay calm and work on the problem until you have it sorted out. Panic doesn’t help anyone, especially you.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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1 Response to Contracting Realities

  1. Larry Kunz says:

    That’s good advice, Bart: Stay calm and work on it. And—you hinted at this —remain on good terms with the client who dropped you. It might simply be that they’re experiencing a rough patch, and they’ll be back when things get better.

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