• Finance, Advice

The unpredictable freelance life: expecting the unexpected

You probably went into freelancing because you like the fact that every day brings something new, and the ebb and flow of your work schedule energize you. But once in a while you get thrown a curve ball. Being prepared can help.

Anticipate Patterns

If you have a client who often comes running to you with their hair on fire at the end of the month, leave a little time in your schedule to help them out. Just because they don’t plan well doesn’t mean you have to be caught by surprise, and if you’re able to put out their fires, you’ll become a valuable asset to their team.

Keeping a log of your projects can help with this. If you track the client, the project, and the deadline, you may see a pattern emerge. This will help you plan your time and avoid being surprised by an unexpected project. This kind of record keeping can be challenging for some, but you don’t need to get too detailed or specific. Just use a method that works for you.

Don’t Procrastinate

If you have something that needs to be completed down the road, you may want to do it as soon as you have a few spare minutes. That tax return that’s been on your to-do list for two months? If you leave it until the last minute and then get a big project with a tight deadline, you could end up in a bind.

A good way to avoid procrastinating is to set aside a little time each day or each week to tackle some of the necessary housekeeping tasks of freelancing. A weekly date with your accounting software to enter income and expenses will make tax time seem less daunting.

Have a Backup Plan

You’ll never be able to plan for every emergency request, but whenever you have an unexpected occurrence, ask yourself, “What can I do differently next time?” While you may not encounter the exact same scenario again, it may help you be more prepared for something similar in the future.

Consider the graphic designer who has nearly finished a website redesign for a client. At the eleventh hour, the client comes back to the designer with wholesale changes. Despite the changes, the client wants the designer to stick to the original deadline. The designer could work 18-hour days to get the work done, but if they have access to a junior designer to whom they could subcontract some of the work, they stand a better chance of delivering the project on time.

Cover Yourself

As a freelancer, you don’t have deep corporate pockets to fall back on if there’s an accident. If someone gets hurt in your office or if property gets damaged, you could be on the hook. Or, a client could sue you for doing something wrong or not doing something you should have done. Equipment that you need to do your work could be stolen or damaged. You can protect yourself against the financial implications of all of these things with small business insurance. It’s generally not expensive, but it could save you from a big expense that you’re not expecting.

Variety is the spice of life, it’s been said, and you love your spicy freelance life. But preparing yourself ahead of time for the unexpected crisis can keep it from becoming too hot to handle.

Lou Casale is Head of Communications for Hiscox, America’s #1 online small business insurer. They help small business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs grow & protect their businesses. They #EncourageCourage! Learn more at

The contents of this article and the linked materials do not offer legal, business or insurance advice related to the needs of any specific individual business.