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.
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.
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.