You Have a Full Plate: Do You Keep Looking for Work?

Marketing should be a regular part of your schedule when you’re a freelance writer, but are there times when you should just focus on what you have in front of you? It’s a judgment call, and most people who work freelance know only too well that there can be times when you are so busy that you don’t know how you will ever get everything done and times when you are scrounging around for work. Ideally, you get to a point where you have steady work and you have a certain level of income every month, but that can change very quickly.

I’ve been guilty of having more than enough to do and still applying for gigs that catch my eye, even though if I actually got the job, I have absolutely no idea how I would be able to get the work done if the client wanted me to start right away. I’ve given this some thought and I don’t think it’s because I’m afraid of missing out on a good opportunity.

For me, it’s more to do with having times when I feel insecure about my ability to continue to find paying work. Since I started freelancing, I have a much greater understanding of why actors are so insecure. You’re only as good as your last gig and there are no guarantees that anyone will hire you again. Logically, though, if you have been able to get paying work in the past, you should be able to find work in the future, but those kinds of feelings are not based on logic. When my brain goes into that mode, Logic has left the building, taken a holiday, or whatever.

Whether you should always be looking for more work and how many ads to respond to or pitches to make is something everyone should decide for themselves. I don’t think it hurts to keep your eyes peeled and be open to new opportunities, but you should also think about how you are going to manage your work if the potential client want to hire you.

How do you handle looking for more work when you are already blessed with lots to do? Are there times when you should back off, or are you just asking for trouble, since you may be headed for a time when work is hard to find?





9 responses
  1. Pinaki kar Avatar

    Hi Jodee,
    You seem to have plucked at the right strings :). I don’t know about the whole writing community, but as far as I’m concerned, I tend to sleep with one eye open.

    As it is, I have not been picked up by some major agency or something for a life long contract, but my keyboard doesn’t gather rust either. Sometimes, there’s more work than I can handle and in those cases I tend to play with price issues etc. with the newest client, silently wishing that he considers hiring me after my current project is delivered!!

    Even if I have more than I can handle, I tend to keep looking here and there for work because “I’m happy today, what’s gonna happen tomorrow” phobia haunts me.

    Many times I have also wished, that I were an SEO expert rather than a writer, because SEO work is not finished overnight, they re usually hired for 2 to 6 months!!

    Pinaki Kar.

  2. Sonal Panse Avatar

    Hi Jodee,

    Yes, it’s often that old cliche ‘feast or famine’.

    Personally, I do keep looking for work even with a full plate.

    Because of insecurity – I don’t want to be out of work

    Because of security – When you have enough work, there’s no sense of desperation that you have to get a particular gig at any terms. Fine if you get it on your terms, fine if you don’t.

    If I do get it, I’ll readjust my schedule to fit that in. Reduce some of the lesser paid work and so forth.

    On the other hand, if all the work in hand is already well-paying, long-term and over-time-consuming, it may make sense to back off – but I’ll keep looking at ads to know how things are going in the marketplace, if there are any new skills I need to pick up.

    Thanks for the blog.

  3. Kristen Avatar

    This is a good question, for which I have no answer. I am currently in a place where I feel very insecure about my 3 clients and the work that they are supplying (or lack of work, I should say). For the past 3 months, I am in a constant state of trolling for work/sending out resumes. I already have enough on my plate to fill my limited work schedule so I do not know how I would even take on more work. But feel like I am just waiting for the day when I lose a client (or 2 or 3). It’s a terrible state of semi-panic.

  4. Phil Avatar


    Twice I’ve had top two clients go through management/economic changes and I was left without a good portion of the previously full plate.

  5. Cynthia Avatar

    I look every day even though I’m not looking for work, if you know what I mean. I like to know what’s going on in the market, who is hiring and for what – and you never know when a golden opportunity will turn up so why not be on the look out.

  6. Alik Avatar

    When I have a full plate, I still apply for gigs – if I end up getting them, I make it work whether it’s staying up really late or working full time on the weekends. You never know when you’re going to hit a dry spell and can’t get any gigs for a while.

    Right now, I’m a little more worried about my plate not being full enough. Anyone else feeling the economy this year?

  7. Mark Avatar

    I constantly look at the new gigs coming out. When my plate is full I don’t always apply for everything, but I’m always looking. I look at it like this, it is perfectly acceptable for a client to look to upgrade to who they think is a better writer from time to time, so it is also fine for a freelance writer to look to upgrade to a better client from time to time. If an A+ job comes along, I try and squeeze it into my schedule… if it won’t fit, then it just may be time to jettison the C- client that I’ve been feeling uneasy about.

  8. David Dittell Avatar


    An important part of success is always wanting more — to never be satisfied with what you’re already doing.

    Obviously that’s a little over-the-top, but there’s nothing wrong with still seeking opportunities when you already feel overwhelmed — it actually is probably a boost to both the quantity and quality of your future work.

  9. Richard Buse Avatar
    Richard Buse

    At a minimum, I’d recommend setting aside time for checking social media and online resources and attending some networking events. Changes can devastate even the best client situations: the client organization call fall on hard times, the client organization may be acquired by another company, the individuals who really love your work can leave… A steady workload can go away very quickly. It’s scary when such things happen, but that’s life as a freelancer.

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