Losing your biggest client is downright terrifying, but it’s important to focus on how you’ll keep working. We all have different expenses and circumstances, but I’ve got a few suggestions here about how to work your way through a loss of that magnitude.
Assess why you lost the client
Understand the reason for parting ways, whether it’s because of differences between you and the client, they’re working more in-house, or the client is in need of other services you don’t offer.
Whatever the reason may be, it is important to look at this as an opportunity to improve and expand both your business and skills as a professional. Furthermore, when you part ways, the most important aspect you can control is yourself. Always be professional and end on good terms if at all possible.
Offer discounted services to nonprofits
I know offering to work discounted or pro bono isn’t ideal, especially if you’re stressing about the where, when, and how of your next paycheck.
When you’ve recently been presented with an abundance of time, still consider contacting a nonprofit and offer to do some design work for them. There are a few benefits that come from taking on a nonprofit client. It’ll add to your portfolio, which is always a bonus. Also, by making that contact, you expand your network.
Work on your branding
You’ve already built your brand, but maybe it’s time to rebrand or freshen up your tools. Grab your resume, portfolio, business cards, and pull up your website. Take a look at them and see what’s missing or what needs to be done. Make sure all those tools are cohesive and up to date.
Work on marketing yourself
I’ll be the first to admit, getting out and away from that computer is not my favorite thing to do, but if my goal is to obtain new clients, then it must be done.
Reach out with your brand. I prefer to send emails to restaurants, shops, and other small businesses in the region that look like they could use some design assistance (I’m also careful not to insult them). I introduce myself, let them know what I can do for them, and provide my contact information.
I also stop into local businesses with my business card and do the same thing. I’ve found that sometimes they’ll even want more information than that. Designing a leave-behind is great for that purpose. It’s something you can leave with a potential client that shows your experience, services and contact information, like a small booklet or brochure.
Start a side project
Side projects give you that creative outlet and a chance to exercise an additional talent. This could be something like starting a blog, writing a book, working on photography, or creating an app.
The point is to spend time with something you’re interested in and develop a new skill you haven’t had time for. A side project may feel unproductive, but you’ll be learning something new that adds to what you can offer a client. You might also get to expand your network along the way.
Contact your current and prospective clients
Ask current clients if they’re interested in adding an additional service, such as social media. Maybe work out an offer for a current client to increase their work with you. Reach out to prospective clients and see where they stand. Maybe take a chance on your dream client. See if they’re in the market for a designer or maybe approach a prospective client you’ve talked with in the past, but it didn’t work out.
I know losing a big client can feel dark, but there’s a lot of work for designers out there—we just have to find it. As Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”