Warning: Don’t Make This Silly Mistake I Once Made!

I started out as a freelance writer in August 2011. And to date, I’m still writing for clients. In fact, a significant amount of my monthly income comes from freelance writing.

My experience as a freelance writer has been an interesting one — a mix of the rosy and the frustrating.

So far, I’ve made a lot of money — millions of Naira, I mean — from writing alone. And no, that’s not an exaggeration.

But I’ve also had my fair share of frustrating moments. Instances when I felt like hitting my head on the wall or spank myself very hard.

Now, let me tell you about one of those bad moments — a time when I made a silly mistake and learned a hard lesson. I want to tell you the story now, so you won’t repeat the same mistake in your quest to make money online.

my silly mistake

In March 2013, I met a new client, Jimmy (not his real name, though). He’s a successful Nigerian netpreneur who owns a number of money-spinning blogs. He also owns a number of successful offline businesses. So, he’s really “loaded”.

Up until this moment, I don’t know how Jimmy got to know about me. But I could remember he first reached out to me through a phone call and requested we have a chat via Facebook. During that chat, we sealed a deal — I was to write a good number of articles for him every month, and he agreed to pay my price per article.

With loads of articles coming from Jimmy each month, he became my most consistent and highest paying client. And for that one reason, I usually prioritized his projects over those of other clients.

For months, things went on fine between Jimmy and I. I handled his projects diligently, and he paid promptly at the end of each project. And because he was always impressed with my work, he engaged me with more and more articles per month. Of course, more articles meant more money.

It got to a point that about 80 percent of my six-figure (in Naira, not dollars) monthly income from freelance writing came from Jimmy alone. The remaining 20 percent or thereabout came from my other clients — mostly occasional callers.

Being a freelancer, I knew how dangerous it is to have just one major client. And so I saw as a warning sign, the fact that a single client pays about 80 percent of my monthly income. Should the client suddenly stop patronizing my services, I’d be in hot soup! Then I remembered one of the golden rules of freelancing: Never stop hunting for clients.

In my bid to hunt for additional new clients, I called Jimmy to ask whether he knew any individual or company that might need the services of a freelance writer. Since he already knew where I was heading, he asked, “Do you still need new clients?” And I replied, “Yes”.

Seeing no reason why I should look for new clients when I’m already working for him, Jimmy quickly promised me that he would give me more writing projects to handle, starting from the next month. When I expressed my fears of the unforeseen, he assured me that we’ll be together for the long term.

The thought of earning even more from Jimmy the next month swept off my brain, the golden rule I initially set out to implement. That was when I started being stupid, but I didn’t realize it then.

From the following month, Jimmy made good his promise. More writing assignments from him, more money for me. And things went on that way for a couple of months. I felt completely relaxed, feeling no need to hunt for clients when I already have more than enough assignments to handle — and I’m making cool cash.

Fast forward to October 2014, Jimmy informed me that he would have to reduce the number of articles he assigned to me monthly due to some challenges he was facing. He said he wasn’t sure yet about the exact figures he would cut off. But I didn’t see that as a problem. Something — another element of stupidity in me — told me the reduction would be slight, and there won’t be much difference. After all, I still have other clients.

On November 1, 2014, I expected Jimmy to send me the batch of article topics for the new month. Of course, I was expecting the “slight” reduction. Usually, Jimmy would send new topics on the first or second day of the month. But the story changed that month. I waited until November 5, yet I got no email from Jimmy. I started sensing danger.

I called Jimmy’s phone severally, but he wouldn’t answer. I sent many emails to him asking why I’m yet to get the new topics, but he wouldn’t reply. The Jimmy I used to know was responsive to both phone calls and emails.

After waiting until the November 9, 2015, I got an email from Jimmy — a mind-shattering one! In that email, Jimmy told me had made a decision with his regular staff to start handling their writing assignments in-house rather than outsourcing them to me.

After reading that email, rivulets of sweat trickled down my face and different thoughts ran through my head. Over 80 percent of my monthly income gone! What I earned monthly from other clients plus what I earned from affiliate marketing would not be enough to pay my monthly bills. And I have a wife and a son to cater for.

Reality had dawned on me. And it was at that point I realized how dumb I had been. Jimmy had suddenly left me alone when I wasn’t expecting it.

But I remained optimistic. I reminded myself that it was never too late to implement that golden rule I forgot earlier. So, I started hunting for new clients. And after implementing some of the strategies I revealed in my e-book on freelance writing (click here to get yours now), I started hooking new clients within two weeks.

And fast forward to the present, I now have long-term deals with seven new clients: A foreign company that recently launched their Nigerian operations, a real estate company, an e-commerce outfit, a career consultancy firm, and three individuals — successful bloggers and internet marketers. And interestingly, they’re all paying more than Jimmy did.

It was during that crisis period that I started earning monthly from Google Adsense — thanks to I-Jay (read more about him here). Now, my income is back to fine: with money flowing in from freelance writing, Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, and information marketing.

— End of story —

Now, I didn’t just tell the story for fun. I told it to teach you an important lesson: don’t ever put all — or most of — your eggs in one basket.

You’ll find the meaning pretty straightforward if you’re a freelancer or you want to become one.

But if you’re into — or planning to start — affiliate marketing, blogging, information marketing, or any other online business model, you may need to look at it from other angles.

As a blogger, you’ll have some of your posts ranking well and generating traffic more than others. Don’t bank on those posts alone. Keep creating additional posts that will be equally as successful, so your blog won’t die if those high-ranking posts should drop in ranking.

As an affiliate marketer or information marketer, don’t depend on just one product, niche blog, or target market. Once you’ve started seeing good results with one, start working on another one immediately to spread the risk.

I experienced that sad phase of my freelance writing career because I didn’t spread my risk by hunting for more clients. It was a silly mistake on my part — I admit. But now, I’m smarter.

Don’t make the same mistake, because you might not be lucky enough to recover early – that’s if you get to recover at all.

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Abass Toriola

I'm a seasoned freelance writer, internet marketing strategist, and online business coach. And I'm a university graduate, doctor-in-training, husband, and father.

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Updated: June 1, 2015 — 6:04 am


Add a Comment
  1. Hello Abass!

    Its great to really get to learn from your mistakes. And pretty awesome how, you got to prevent yourself from being drowned by it.

    Uche Francis!

    1. Uche,

      Thanks for reading the post. I’m glad you learned from it.

  2. Hi Abass,

    It’s a great Monday morning and I’m glad to be here.

    Online (as elsewhere), mistakes define paths and ultimately, make or mar the party involved. In my own efforts to earn (legitimate) money online, I have also made a ton of silly mistakes, many which took the last sinew of courage in me to publish and make bare my profound stupidity to the world.

    But like you, I carefully documented them and expounded on the lessons therein…

    On the whole however, the lesson was learnt, my audience helped because of it and more importantly, I became a ton better. This is the pattern that I see replicating itself here…the pattern of mastery and excellence as a result of facing and overcoming failure.

    Do make your week great, Abass – and never stop striving to be better.

    Akaahan Terungwa

  3. I had to read this before entering the theatre for surgeries this morning. And I am glad I did.

    To be successful in anything, you need wisdom — to know how it plays out in that field and what to do. In business, both offline and online, diversification of income source is vital. In other words, I agree with you and you article.

    Thanks for helping us learn from your pain.

    Helping you live a healthy & happy life,
    Dr ‘Malik

  4. Godwin O. (Gentle)

    I feel so priviledged being 1 of the 1st 10 to comment on this pos.
    I hv learnt something great here, and will follow the instructions judiciously.
    The Boss, I continue 2 hail You.

  5. thank you mr Abass, sowing seeds in different fields is best cos you do not know which will thrive well and which wont, peherps all will thrive to your joy

  6. Good day Mr Abass,

    Thanks for sharing.

    Your post has saved me a lot and helped greatly. Through it I now have a company site running with Midphase. I have my own master card and can purchase things online with it. In fact, it was what I used to pay for the hosting the site, before now I have tried two master cards owned by friends without avail and I also got my personal (individual) Paypal account. Although, in this regard I consulted another (Ogbonge)blog to get additional information.

    I will really appreciate your advice on which online business will be suitable for me. I have gone through some of your write up regarding this. I will really appreciate your advice to discover that which will be suitable for me. I want to have a source of income from this end.


    Do have a wonderful day.


  7. Have always read your post it my first time commenting. A nice post, I’ll like to start an online biz and need some mentorship.

  8. Hi Abass,

    Great lesson there! Mistakes are part of us and if only we could learn from them and forge ahead from there, we would be the better for it!

    Glad you learned from that mistake and have since headed on. Well done!

    You’re doing a great job here! Thank God I’m here, having stumbled upon your blog through a google search on a thing I was working on on my blog.

    Thumbs up!


    1. Yusuf,

      Thanks for taking your time to read the post, and for dropping a great comment. I appreciate.

  9. Waoh. One should not put all his eggs in one basket, you’re right about this. It applies to an hot post likewise clients.
    Great share

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