Bounce Back from Freelance Business Failure

When you started off as a freelancer, did it cross your mind that you might not make it? Did you consider the possibility of failure? If you’re like many first time freelancers, you didn’t.

It’s not that surprising that so many freelance businesses go under, when many freelancers don’t think about staying afloat. They set out to seek their fortune, giving no thought to the fact that they’ve set sail in a colander.

If you’ve found your freelance business sinking, this article contains expert advice on how to bounce back from freelance business failure.

How to bounce back from a freelancing business failure

Freelancers generally hop onto freelancing business bandwagon believing it to be a lot of fun and excitement.

Most of them are lured in by the prospect of earning easy money. In fact, most freelancers begin their businesses casually, inspired by someone they knew. Perhaps it was their neighbor, or a close friend, or maybe they came across a profile of an internet marketer who had been successful in his trade.

Image Source: Check Boxes of Success via Shutterstock.

They never realize that these successful acquaintances of theirs have worked hard to create success in their freelancing career. These new entrants to freelancing business are preoccupied with their expectations.

They stare at success, but not at what was done to achieve it. These greenhorns are so concerned with the fruits of success that they can’t be bothered to find the roots of the tree. That’s why most freelancers fail. They tend to view freelancing as just a mode of income, rather than learning ways to establish it. Such efforts never last, it’s bound to bring failure sooner than later.

Prime reasons for failure

When you talk of overcoming failures in freelancing, you must understand why one person fails while another doesn’t. Is it just the attitude that makes a difference, or is there something else?

It is generally said that freelancers have it easy, mostly because they’re not forced to stick to strict working hours. Freelancers themselves fall in this trap, and make mistakes. The most striking reason freelancers fail is the lack of commitment in their work. Many fail to realize that clients only stick to freelancers who understand the responsibilities associated with assignments and commits to fulfil them.
Since a freelancer has to self motivate, there are times he’s unable to maintain the level of discipline required to succeed in the freelancing world.

Also, the fact that freelancers have to deal with a certain sense of insecurity often leads to disbelief that they can continuously succeed in a freelancing market. As a result, many fail when they lose faith in their abilities.

The cut throat competition in the market makes it even more difficult. Those who aren’t smart enough to seize opportunities and make them count are the ones who fail even before they begin. The reasons could be many; every freelancer might encounter a unique circumstance to drop out of the freelancing business.

That’s why it’s so critical to spot opportunities for failure and find ways to overcome them before you find yourself failing.

Overcoming Failures

Many freelancers are too slow to learn the intricacies of freelancing. They perform brilliantly in short bursts, but they aren’t good at every aspect of their specialization. This means that they have to wait for opportunities to arrive, and hope to succeed. Otherwise, they find themselves in long lulls and it becomes difficult to motivate themselves.

In the initial period of my freelancing career, I was impressed by bloggers who told stories of their success, and found myself motivated to pursue freelancing for the rest of my life. When I started, I succeeded in patches, but it wasn’t enough for me to convince myself that I should continue freelancing.

I said to myself, “if I don’t earn a certain amount this month, I’ll quit”. And the fact is I didn’t earn the promised amount that month. That happens to many freelancers. Everyone’s in a hurry to earn cash, but they aren’t ready to put out quality work. So they fail.

If you’ve failed just because you didn’t earn enough, try again. Ask yourself if you produced quality work before. If you didn’t, try harder. Quality carries a price. Potential clients will eventually notice quality work. It may take some time, but success will follow skill and effort. If you stick to quality, it pays.

There are four main reasons freelance businesses fail.

· Continuously producing low quality work
· Often missing deadlines
· Failing to understand the needs of a client
· Indulging in wrong promises.

If a freelancer wants to bounce back from a freelance business failure, he needs to correct these wrong doings. That’s the only way forward.

Producing quality work when the chips are down

If you know that you failed because you had not been able to produce quality work, the only way left is to find new ways to render quality. Quality work cannot be achieved just by refining yourself. You need to overcome your shortcomings.

Go through freelancer’s projects that are considered top notch. Make sure that you go through not just one or two, but many projects. Try to find inspiration from someone with a style that resembles yours. Always remember, inspiration is the cornerstone of quality.

Image Source: Brown Grunge Rubber Stamp via Shutterstock.

Once you’re inspired, you’ll learn the intricacies of your trade just by following him. It helps you visualize quality, and if you don’t visualize quality in your work, you won’t be able to produce it.

The best part when you’ve failed is that you won’t face a worse situation from here on. The only way left, perhaps, is to reorganize and push hard to produce quality work.

Avoid missing deadlines at the same time.

Failure begets failure. There are countless instances when freelancers have failed even after rendering quality work. The reason being that they failed to submit assignments on time. Missing deadlines is a habit, similar to arriving late for events. It becomes an attitude.

Many freelancers commit themselves to many clients at the same time. The result is they are not able to stick to deadlines. Freelancers don’t have anyone to guide them. They need to self discipline.

Image Source: Explosives with Alarm Clock via Shutterstock.

The moment they learn responsibility and understand the value of their clients, they become more disciplined in their approach, and meet their deadlines. Take one or two projects at a time, but not more than that. Too many projects kills your focus, and builds confusion.

Know the expectations of a client and find ways to fulfill them

Many freelancers pursue assignments and try to complete them without bothering about what clients really want out of it.

These freelancers are self centered, and look at things from their own perspective. They complete assignments as they want them to be, and don’t consider the client’s motive, resulting in the client rejecting the projects. This is a common reason for failure.

A failed freelancer should consider what a client needs out of each project. Before commencing a project, ask your client what he wants to see in the finished product. Work on assignments with the goal of fulfilling the client’s objectives, not your own.

Sometimes, a client would like you to include details that you feel don’t fit the assignment, but the client told you to, so it should be done that way.

Don’t break promises

Promises aren’t just related to deadlines. There are a number of times when a freelancer promises to deliver assignments as per the requirement, but doesn’t have a clue about the project. He takes the job because he needs it, but since he doesn’t know anything about the subject he commits a blunder, and makes a mess of the project.

Image Source: Contract with Person Signing via Shutterstock.

If you go on undertaking assignments you don’t know anything about, you’re bound to fail. It also damages your reputation. Understand the value of commitment, and know that breaking it too often will spoil your career.

Avoid breaking promises. Undertake only assignments you know about, even if it means waiting for the right project. Such initiatives will help rebuild your career.


If you’re preparing to bounce back from a freelancing business failure, then the most effective way would be to start specializing in a particular segment. Specializing in a segment will help you to get noticed. You can plan your work and market your skills accordingly, to target clients properly.

Remember, bouncing back isn’t easy, and the narrower your focus the easier it’ll be for you to negotiate it. Specialization can work wonders. It makes the recovery process faster, and moreover it helps you master your skills efficiently, without having to worry about too many other things.

Finally, bouncing back is an attitude. If you believe you can get back, you can. Just choose the right path.

(2 Posts)

Rajiv Sighamony

The author of this post has been Rajiv Sighamony. He mainly writes on tech, finance and career and also runs his own blog:


  • Great tips at the right time for me. Felt very depressed with a project and now after read this post, all charged up back !

  • great article..thanks

  • Rajiv, You mentioned about very important parts. I want to add :
    -Don’t stop learning new stuff, specially if your job related to technology and web. The pace of growing is so fast and if you don’t follow it you can not create quality work. For example, in web site design the samples, offers and suggestions I gave to my client s 2 years ago are not the best one now just because there are many new options out there now. 

    – In communication with clients we always try to nag and complain why they don’t understand and why the ask things that are not reasonable. We need to know how to be more effective when comes to human relationships, just by trying to understand from their point of view and their reasons and answer back from that perspective and their language. Then you see how it becomes easier and more effective

    Thanks again for the post.

  •  Yes, I agree with you. Thanks.

  •  I am glad that the article has motivated you to get back.

  •  Thanks for taking your time and reading it.

  • karks88

    Really an outstanding article!  A topic not too many are talking about. I started freelancing 13 years ago.  When I started, I did buy into the whole “easy money” theory, but I quickly learned that doesn’t work.

    Truly, the only way you stick around for a long time in this business is to be responsible and self-motivated.  That’s how you keep clients happy and get their referrals for new projects.  Freelancing is a business and that means you have to take it seriously.  If you don’t, you’ll find it hard to make a living.

    Working on your own is, in a lot of ways, more difficult than working for someone else. It definitely takes a commitment.

  • Perfect article at right time, these tips are really helpful for me to get back to my happy freelancing life.

  •  Yes, and even though, I wrote it, I fight daily to keep myself motivated. Moreover, freelancing can make you lazy very easily, if you become too laid back.

  • Freelance is a crazy, stressful world. At times, it can be one of the most gratifying fields, but also one of the highest pressure career choices. Don’t forget, designers are high in demand so always charge appropriately! (It pains me to see designers charging under $75 h/r.) If you fail, you can always get a job at a startup or company (like I said, designers are in demand).

    That being said, working at a startup is way more fun than freelancing on your own!

  •  Your assessment is perhaps, true. However, to be in demand, one has to create it, and that may take some time. Therefore, charges may vary according to how much demand has been created.

  • Terrific article, particularly in these difficult economic times.

    Finding freelance jobs can be a daunting task… One way to find work quickly is at micro-contracting sites, where you can post your work offer for free and utilize their traffic to find clients. This is a proven to be workable technique that many freelancers are migrating to.

  • Eric

    good article..thanks