So, there’s this phrase that comes up all the time on freelancing blogs. You’ve probably heard it. You’ve possibly even used it. If you’re like me, you also detest it. That phrase is “feast or famine.”
“Feast or famine” is used to describe the freelancing phenomenon wherein you either have tons of work to do all at once, or there’s just nothing at all. You might also be familiar with the term “when it rains it pours.” Of course, that also means that there are some droughts along the way.
I hate the phrase “feast or famine” for a few reasons, the first of which is that it’s just plain overused. If you did a search on any given freelance writing blog, it’ll probably pop up. Heck, I’ve already used it three times on this one, and I hate it.
The biggest reason I can’t stand that trite phrase, however, is because IT’S TRUE. Grr. Of course, that’s awesome during those “feast” periods. At those times things are all hunky-dory and stuff. The worst that happens then is that you worry about missing a deadline or maybe even have to manage some extra help for a while.
But the “famine…” Man, that stuff sucks. I hit one of those recently, and I am happy to be on the upside of it. There were some nice aspects, I guess. I had a lot of time to work on a personal project that’s been on the back burner for nearly a year. That was really exciting. On the other hand, I have bills to pay, and puttering around with my little hobby website is not going to write checks. (At least not any time soon.)
It’s time to implement some marketing changes and do what I can to avoid the freaking out I’ve been dealing with over the last couple of weeks. So, as far as I’m concerned, this whole “feast or famine” thing can just go ahead and suck it.
I don’t like it either, but I use it often in posts here (and other places) because sadly, as you noted it is true. I feel like I’d be lying to other writers, especially newbies if I didn’t mention it, because thus far it’s been way too typical a situation in my own life and in the lives of writer friends.
There are too many posts, Make a million blogging!! weeee!” IMO that fail to mention how hard freelancing is and so I’ll say it.
That said, I like your attitude. I think it’s super smart to try and outwit the feast or famine issue. To me that’s looking more and more like dropping HUGE clients slowly in exchange for all my own stuff and a mix of lots of smaller client projects. It’s all too unsteady if you have to rely on big clients, even excellent ones to manage to keep their sites going strong because you never know what will happen.
I agree, it’ll be nice if and when this phrase can suck it.
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Olive J. says
This phenomenon is not a rare one, it’s true. I have been feeling the effects of a downturn recently also. I have been freelancing for seven months now, a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things but also a very long time to have survived thus far, and the only thing I can attribute my survival to is being a full-time student on the side. Now that it is summer here, I hope to be able to build up my portfolio some more and get on my feet a little better to survive the post-graduate turmoil of going into this full-time.