Writer Rant: The 5 Stages of Large Client Loss and Grief for Writers for Hire

Posted on January 9, 2015 by Dan S

Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.

stages of grief

Regular customers are your bread and butter: they keep your business afloat. Freelance writers for hire rely on larger clients and contracts like a business relies on regular customers for reliable income and sanity. Panic replaces paychecks when you offset the freelance balance. A freelancer’s nightmare is an eight-hour block to work with nothing lined up. So when a long-term client dumps you, you may find yourself like I did: broke and bored. Fortunately, new clients are the light at the end of the tunnel.

I should’ve listened to other freelancers who told me that I needed to diversify my clients. I’ve had one very reliable client for most of my freelance career that gave me so much work I didn’t want to miss out on income so I could find more clients. Four months ago they dumped me and it went down like this:

  • Stage 1: Denial

Around three or four in the afternoon I went to check for some new assignments and instead found an email saying my “writing privileges have been revoked.” I thought there must’ve been a mistake. This client only rejected five of the one thousand articles I wrote for them. However, the denial phase ends pretty quickly when the checks stop rolling in.

  • Stage 2: Anger

I’ve had girlfriends dump me via text message, but never a business client dump me over email. The lack of feedback made me pretty angry and then I got angrier when it dawned on me that the client I had depended on for income like a second job was gone. I was in a panic because I had just bought a house and my “I didn’t think that was going to break” fund was gone overnight. I needed new clients and I needed them now.

  • Stage 3: Bargaining

A few weeks later, the client broke the silence and told those of us let go that we could reapply in six months. Great, I thought, I just need to make it through six months and things will go back to normal. This is when I realized I was going through the five stages of grief and needed to make some changes. Six months is too long to go without reliable work.

  • Stage 4: Depression

Getting back into the client hunt is a lot like getting back into the dating scene after a long relationship. You’re socially inept and have to re-learn how to meet people. Clients looking for writers for hire can be inconsistent in responding to your job post replies. Some clients respond right away, others not at all. The depression this rock bottom when the rejection letters start pouring in.

  • Stage 5: Acceptance

The acceptance phase hits as soon as you realize your old bread and butter is gone and you’ve moved on to something new. After spinning my wheels for a month working jobs for cut-rate pay I found a reliable client with droves of SEO rewrites they needed done and not enough people to do them. The first article with my new client took forever, but each follow up took less time and I eventually I got close to what I used to make. My freelance career moved on.

Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.


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