For many freelancers, the “feast or famine” cycle is a common one. For a while, you get a big job that takes up all your time. When the job is finished, however, you are back to where you started, searching for new work with zero income. Getting out of this cycle is one of the biggest challenges for freelance workers. For people who love working on their own however, the freedom of schedule, and the ability to build their own businesses, makes freelance work still an attractive alternative.

If you approach freelance work with the right attitude, you can avoid many of the problems associated with freelance work and maintain a healthy work/income balance that will keep you going throughout the year. As a freelancer, time is money, so it is important to manage your time and finances effectively to maximize your income. Follow these tips to avoid the feast or famine cycle in your own freelance endeavors.

I. Networking

For many freelancers, networking is the part of the job they hate the most, but proper networking is what can save you from times of famine. Always keep in touch with past clients and attend as many networking events for your field as possible. Connect with anyone and everyone that you meet and spread the word about your freelance business. This will help people think of you when they need a service, and will lessen  the effort that  you need to put into cold calling by having potential clients approach you first.

II. Cold Calling

Cold calling is a part of any freelance business, whether you actually do it on the phone or not. Freelancers have to contact companies and actively try to find work. Many freelancers only look for new work when their current job has ended, but a focused search for new work even when fully employed will help prevent gaps between jobs. You can always hire a helper to take over some of your extra work if you get too much at once, but if you go without work for several weeks or months, that is potential income that you will never recover.

III. Search for big clients

Bigger clients are typically willing to pay more. The bigger the client, the larger the project usually is and the higher the salary. Often, one job from a large client can pay the same as multiple jobs from smaller clients. Manage your time wisely and search for clients that will pay you the most for your efforts. Big clients like to see professional portfolios and past work, so make sure you have an impressive portfolio and resume that helps you stand out from other freelancers.

IV. Manage finances

Financial management is one of the hardest parts of freelance work. Not only do you have to pay a high tax rate for working as a freelancer, but managing invoices and payments can also take up a large part of your time. Many freelancers hire a separate financial advisor to handle all of the invoices, billing, and accounting for the business. This helps you maximize your time by spending it on income-producing work, rather than the side of work that will not bring in any more money. You should be very careful about taking out any loan because your irregular income patterns make it really hard to plan long-term; a short-term payday loan is much more suited to your lifestyle.

V. When you get in a bind

If you follow the above steps, you will eliminate much of the dead time that many freelance workers see from time to time. However, even with outstanding effort, it is possible that you may experience a gap in income-producing work. When this happens, you don’t have to give up. There are many options that can help you sustain yourself during periods of low-income. Set aside some money from each check while you bring in money to help cover the expenses between jobs. If you fall far behind, a short-term loan is a great way to help sustain your business until you find paying work again.

All of these tips can help prevent the feast or famine lifestyle of the typical freelancer. Not only will you have a steadier income throughout the year, but you will also appear more professional to potential clients, which could lead to additional work. Follow these tips and you will stay on the path of steady work while increasing your income.

Featured photo credit: This time, we go on the count of one via Shutterstock

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