Guest post by Nacie Carson
Sometimes it seems that the one thing we don’t have as freelance writers is job security. Sure, we have the power to make our own schedules, work when the mood strikes and really enjoy an earning power that is only limited by our ability to crank out work – but a lot of the times it feels like at a moment’s notice our clients could pull the plug and end the project, leaving us with nothing.
I’ve gone through phases in my freelancing career where I’ve felt this more strongly than others, and it is truly a frightening thought. But if there is one lesson I’ve learned several times over and sometimes the hard way it is that as a freelancer, I am responsible for creating my own job security. Think its impossible in our field? Read on, and I’ll show you how.
What does job security really mean? For 9-5ers, job security means that they do not have to worry about losing their job. The real fear here isn’t about not having the privilege to kill themselves 9-5 five days a week, the fear is that they will lose their jobs and then subsequently lose their income. That’s right, at the heart of the issue job security is all about the Benjamin’s.
9-5ers are actually in some of the most insecure jobs out there – they put all their eggs into one basket, and then have to hope that basket doesn’t downsize, file for bankruptcy, or merge with a less sympathetic basket. They are at the mercy of their job for job security, which means they are out of the control of the job security and therefore there is no way it can ever be secure.
Freelancers, however, while it seems our employment is more precarious, have more of a fighting chance to create job security for ourselves. Since we are not bound by just one client at a time, we can create a job safety net for ourselves that becomes real job security. Here are two key ways how to do that:
Diversify Your Clients
The most important thing we can do as freelancers to create job security for ourselves is to diversify our clients. This means that at any given time we should have several contracts with several totally different clients going. Preferably, one of those clients should have more work available for us that you are currently completing, and there should be a client waiting in the wings. The idea is that if one client drops you the others can simply close the financial gap with the other clients’ work.
Let me give you a real life example of this. This past year, I have been working for an online content mill (Demand Studios) that literally offers as much work as I want for a fixed rate per article, a leadership development firm that had me working an hourly rate for around 20 hours per week, another online client that I did around 50 articles for per month, and several occasional clients. In August, the leadership development firm downsized and had to cut me from the payroll. All my friends and family were worried for my financial health, but to me, it was no big deal – I focused more on the content mill articles for a week and got in touch with a client I had on the back burner to start a long term project with them. The whole event was truly seamless without so much as a dip in my earnings.
What made this transition so painless? The fact that I had a flexible client that could give me more work (Demand) and a client waiting in the wings. And as odious as many writers think these content mills are, they can help pay the bills quick and can be tapped whenever you need a little extra – so if you aren’t sign up with one seriously consider it.
Create a Savings Reserve
Another way that we can create job security for ourselves it to create a fall-back reserve. Just by adding a few dollars a month into a separate savings account can help create a little buffer for you while you are in between clients that will keep the wolves from the door.
The nice thing about freelancing today is we have a global market place at our fingertips, meaning there are just more jobs out there for us. But just as the saying is true you need a job to get a job, it is also true that you need money to make money – having a freelancing reserve makes it easier to find a new gig instead of being desperate for money. Don’t ask me why this works, it just does!
So freelancers, be proud of your profession and proud of the fact that you have it in your control to create your own security in this challenging economy. Just be smart, think big, and when you get the chance, save. You can do it!