When You Are Freelance, Broke and Have No Work!

By on May 28, 2015
When You Are Freelance, Broke and Have No Work! - Writer's Life.org

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Have you ever felt like you were just going to explode if you couldn’t get a writing assignment right away?

It happens even to seasoned freelance writers. The work dries up and all of a sudden you really, really need a new gig.

To sum up, you’re desperate.

The problem? Once you’re desperate, you tend to start doing desperate things.

You drop your rates. Or you don’t do any marketing because you’re too depressed.

Your pitches take on a sort of pleading tone that only attracts loser clients.

The good ones can see the little beads of flop sweat on your forehead — and they bolt.

As you send off queries, you find yourself thinking, “This better be the pitch that saves me.”

You can’t get a good gig with this attitude

Prospects can smell your desperation stink a mile off, and they stay away. So the situation only gets worse. And you get more desperate.

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How can you overcome desperation and find great new clients?

To answer that, let me tell you a story. It’s about the founding of the biggest smoothie chain in America, Jamba Juice.

What does a smoothie store have to do with your freelance writing career? Stay with me here, and you’ll see.

The company’s first smoothie store in San Luis Obispo, Calif., opened in the spring of 1990. The founders were all excited for the hot summer to come, figuring they’d sell loads of smoothies.

Then they realized the horrible truth. They were near the Cal-Poly campus, and in the summer, all of their customers went home!

Sales plummeted. They had rent to pay. They needed to somehow survive until the fall.

Despite the gaffe, they believed they had a great idea and that the store would eventually be successful. They weren’t about to give up.

So do you know what they did?

They started a marketing campaign. They sold reusable mugs for smoothies with the store’s name — it was originally Juice Club — on it. Soon, the town was full of bicyclists and joggers who were walking billboards for the store, going around with these mugs clipped to their backpacks.

They also contacted the college and got added as a tour stop for the new-student tour given to arriving students. This assured them that at least in the fall, they’d see some new customers.

They dug into their pockets. One founder used money from a rental unit he had to help pay the bills. They also went into debt with family and friends to tide them over. It wasn’t ideal, but it kept the doors open. (I know another shoe-store entrepreneur who got a job as a bar-back for a year at one point, until business picked back up.) They were not going to let the store go under.

Most importantly of all…

They kept up their friendly, positive attitude. Despite the stress of what was going on financially, they trained staff to maintain the high level of friendly customer service they’d always delivered.

In essence, they faked it. Customers never knew the store was in trouble. They had a great experience and spread the word, bringing new customers and helping grow the business.

In the fall, those tour buses arrived from the college, and business exploded.

What’s the secret of overcoming desperation?

Keep your panic to yourself.

Market harder…and understand it may take a while to pay off.

Believe that you’re going to make it.

Take a side gig or borrow if you have to.

Whatever you do, never let them see that flop sweat break out on your forehead.

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Carol Tice is the author of this article that originally appeared with the title What Freelance Writers Should Do When They're Desperate at http://www.therenegadewriter.com/2011/10/26/what-freelance-writers-should-do-when-theyre-desperate/

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