January is often a big month for freelancers. Clients are at the start of their budget year, so it’s a good time to pitch new projects.
It’s also a good time to win new clients and reconnect with old ones. If you’ve been looking to expand, make sure to build some time for new business development into your schedule every week–and send out those pitches. In one of my freelancing editing gigs, the budget was tight in the last quarter, and now I’m finally able to give the green light to pitches that arrived in November and December. I have to assume that many of my clients, who work in the same niche in journalism, faced the same situation.
You’ve probably seen headlines about ongoing and upcoming layoffs in the media. If you’re a journalist, this is a good reminder to try to build as many contacts as possible within each client organization. Otherwise, if your main contact leaves, you may find yourself scrambling to reestablish your relationship with a particular client. Don’t neglect to get to know interns, administrative assistants and people from other departments who work on projects alongside of you–and to help them out when you can. It’ll make your projects go more smoothly–and they can be a vital resource in reestablishing your relationship with the company if your main contact moves on.
If you are experiencing any churn in your clients, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to “dormant” clients to reconnect. I’ve started to keep track of all of my assignments in an excel spreadsheet, listing them by client and date. Sometimes, I get so busy week to week that I’ll look at the chart and realize that five or six months have passed–and I haven’t sent a pitch to some of my favorite clients. I’m busy reconnecting with some of them this week. Freelancing is much more fun if you plan your business so that you’re doing the work that is most meaningful for you–but that doesn’t happen by accident.