Gracefully Losing Your Job or Big Freelance Clients

losing your job or freelance clients

I’m a product of a lost job. I walked home from work one day, told my roommate I might have trouble paying the rent and figured out a way to squeeze my way back into my parents’ home after just a few years out of college. I knew I had to pick myself back up, but losing your job stings to the point that you don’t want to figure out your life or listen to anyone’s advice.

Clearly this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable for the long term but in the short term it sure as hell beat the crap out of going to the office.

Nigel Marsh combines humor and inspiration, as he documents his year journey after getting let go in the 2011 book Fat, Forty and Fired.

fat forty and fired

His bluntness and overall optimistic outlook on getting fired connects with even the most desperate job losers.

This outlook was much needed when I first lost my job. I luckily always managed a small freelance writing business, but it didn’t make me much of a living–maybe enough to eat, but nothing else. It’s when I started discovering what I like to call writer’s anxiety. But that’s part of the writing adventure–your downfalls are what help you grow, and there’s a good chance you’ll remember the tough times the most.

I also recently lost one of my larger clients, since they are looking to restructure their blogging strategy, and they aren’t able to pay me throughout the process. It sucks, yes, but I’ve learned a long time ago that losing your job or a client is part of life and you have to deal with it or get trampled in the process.

The cool thing about my situation now is that I’m a full-time freelance writer. I manage a list of over 30 clients who all pay me on a monthly or weekly basis. Since I built this freelance business the loss of a huge client doesn’t sting as much as losing your job, since I still have multiple sources of revenue streams.

It’s different when you lose a desk job. The money just stops, and you gasp for air trying to find other sources. Regardless of the situation, losing your job or letting that big client slip away puts you in a dilemma. You need to replace the void in order to continue your career.

There are a few things I’ve learned about gracefully losing your job or big freelance clients, so I wanted to share them with you here.

Burning Bridges is for Amateurs

During an internship I completed in college I burned a bridge. I forgot to respond to emails from my old boss because I was too busy having fun in college. Right before I started applying for jobs before graduation I tried to contact her, with no reply. I then made an unsavory exit from my marketing position after college and pretty much lost any chance of receiving a recommendation letter in the future.

Although you might think that leaving a job means that you won’t speak to those people again, you have a chance to gain from the separation. Losing friend helps you grow, while creating enemies, or simply people who don’t want to talk to you anymore, puts you right back in the position you were before you had the job.

The same goes for losing freelance clients. I plan on staying in contact with my recent client loss just in case they want to recommend me to someone else or maybe they want to hire me again sometime. Regardless, when I received the news about them letting me go I responded with a friendly email, stating that I understood, and they offered me the chance to always touch base, ask for a recommendation letter and even request free products from their online store.

Reach Out to Your Current Clients to Fill the Void

A few months back I also found myself losing a client that fueled a significant portion of my freelance business. After scrounging for new jobs I realized that I already had dozens of contacts right on my client list. I drafted an email that shared my other skills in case some of my clients seemed to be lacking in areas for their business.

I told them I offered services for editing and social media assistance, and two of them actually requested that I start editing articles from other writers on their WordPress sites. Even if you’re an introvert; learn how to be the loudest introvert in the room to muster up the guts to ask clients for more. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s Go Time

Although I thoroughly agree with the fact that losing your job is a rare opportunity to get out and experience life and figure out what you want to do, it’s more than just sitting on a beach or travelling around the world with no motive. After losing your job it’s time to buckle down and situate yourself for the perfect work/life balance. What I mean by this is that most people are programmed to work 9-5 jobs, where they receive orders from a boss and work on these orders in order to stay busy.

Combing your freedom with work, and learning how to live with them both is essential for making money online or writing for a living or creating passive income streams. It’s go time for your freedom and your new career, so learn how to be your own boss after losing your job. Stock your phone with writing and organization apps, use Scrivener to write efficiently and always work from a template. Learn about the immutable marketing laws for writers and limit your distractions, because anyone who prides oneself as a multitasker is full of it.

The final rule is to learn from your writing, and for god sake, write everyday until your fingers bleed.

Desperation is Not The Key

Although I hate this story, I once received a voice mail from a woman who asked me for advice on how to start a freelance writing business. Her voice trembled as she explained her recent job loss and she constantly kept saying how she needed to figure out a way to get money fast. There’s no solution to this answer. Finding money on the ground is great, but it doesn’t happen that often. People pay for your services after you have proven yourself, and although I wanted to embrace this woman and tell her all my secrets (hint: there really are no secrets) I cringed at even calling her back.

How was I supposed to respond to this situation? I’m not a therapist. I find it tough to speak with people when their pets die, so how can I console a person who just lost their job? The truth is you can’t, and if you lose your job or a big client and come crawling to another person for help it makes them uncomfortable and unwilling to help you out. Even if they want to help you out they can’t because the solution is actually just lots of work and time.

My advice is to slap on the confidence that everyone uses when they “fake it till they make it” and pretend that you are the most successful person in the world. People feed off of confidence, and even if you are broke as hell, confidence gets people on your side. If you’re a writer then you should already know that the best writers are actors at heart.

If you have experience losing your job or some big clients tell me about your story in the comments section below.

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. cherylking3 says:

    I did not just lose a job, but am facing the loss of my current way of living – I have a live/work performance space in Manhattan, where I have produced and performed in my own plays and solo shows for the last 10 years, while also producing other peoples’ shows and teaching writing workshops and directing and dramaturging other peoples’ work. Now the rents have gotten so high it’s an untenable business and when my lease runs out next July I’ll have to move out. Where to go? Another space in Manhattan is not the answer – they are all priced out of reach and ticket sales are down, and probably not going to improve. I’m looking for ways to start augmenting my income, to help cover current income shortages, and hoping I can find a way that does not require me to be based in any one place in particular. Freelance writing seems like a good plan. And if I could get that started, I can do it in my next home, which will perhaps be in Santa Fe, a lovely town that’s currently calling me, where living is much cheaper and where quality of life is much higher. The loss of my job as a Manhattan theater owner is propelling me into a large discussion of how viable running a small performance space is and whether that business model needs to change. Were I to be an even part-time freelance writer, I’d have a portable job, and be able to cover the bills while I scout out the possibilities of running a playwrights’ retreat in Santa Fe.

    • Sorry to hear about the rising rent Cheryl. A few friends of mine are also explaining how every year it gets more and more impossible to live in Manhattan. Freelance writing is a viable option because you don’t have many upfront costs (besides hosting a website and maybe some paid search marketing if needed). That said, it took me a bit to get all setup and bringing in a consistent income, but it can be done, and if you move to a new place with less rent then you might have the means to do so. Good luck on your quest, and please let me know if you have any questions on getting started.

      • cherylking3 says:

        Thanks, Joe. In the four days since I posted I have made the decision to move out of this space when my lease expires and to move west – where I can live at about a fourth of my current costs with a higher standard of living. I can travel to NY to work with my clients, or do it via Skype, and I will almost certainly try my hand as a freelance writer. I certainly intend to write the book that i began 10 years ago, and had to put on the back burner. thanks for your offer – I’ll stay in touch.

  2. You make a great point that losing a job or changing a lifestyle is a chance for growth. That’s already a mature way to look at it. I think your best advice is to be grateful for and keep in communication with people. Your parents (by the way, does ‘fandangle’ have a definition I’m not aware of? I found some startling ones in the urban dictionary, but none that seemed to fit your sentence.) Where was I? Oh yes. Your parents, your clients, and even your readers are all part of your support group. I’m sure you were more of a support to the friend who came crying to you than you realize. You gave her truth: It takes hard work, and time to develop a business. And when you’ve lived your life the way you are learning to live it, you have a lot of people who are pulling for you, and not only want to see you make it, but are willing to help you make it.

    • Haha. I’ve heard people used fandangle as slang for sneaking your way in or to get something anyway possible. I kind of see it as weaseling your way into something. That said, I too followed your research and urban dictionary and decided to change my wording because of some other more intimate meanings. Thanks Susan.