Monday, March 26, 2012

Landing Ongoing Clients

Freelancing can be a feast-or-famine industry. Your earnings are great one month, not so great the next. Many people think the only alternative to that is a steady job. Not really. If you can land a few ongoing clients that give you steady work, you’ll have the best of both worlds. Ongoing clients give you financial stability similar to what you’d find at a steady job. And, true, you could lose any of your ongoing clients at any time—but you could lose your job at a company at any time, too. And if you have several, losing one ongoing client isn’t the end of the world—even if you’d rather not. So in a way, it’s more stable than working for a single company.

Here are a few ways to land those ongoing clients.

Get yourself out there. You never know who’ll turn out to be a wonderful ongoing client. I met my first one on Elance—I’ll always be grateful to this person for keeping me going when I got started. For several years, his paycheck covered my rent every month. I met another fantastic ongoing client just by checking out his website and emailing to see if he’d be interested in working together. I still work for this person today, and it’s been a blast.

Check in regularly. You may have some semi-regulars that could be turned into regulars, if you’re enterprising enough. Make an effort to make contact with the person once a month—whether it’s with a link to an article you think they’d like, a note of appreciation, or maybe even a discount on your services (I’ve done percent-off promotions for previous clients before on slow months, and it usually always brings in some business).

Know where the work is. Some businesses are more likely to need ongoing help than others. SEO companies can be great sources of ongoing work—but be sure you don’t fall into any low-priced article traps. So can marketing firms and web design companies—all those clients they design websites for will need copy, too. Resume writing companies can be a great source of ongoing income. So can blogs and online magazines, if the rates are good. And publishing houses that hire freelance editors and pay a decent rate for editing are also likely to need ongoing work.

Where do you go for stable, ongoing work?


Unknown said...

Great points, every one!

I go to magazines (but before October -- their budgets dry up then), corporate marketing departments, resume companies (only as a last resort anymore -- I'm burned out!), clients I've worked for a lot in the past....

The possibilities are limitless, really. You just have to put the time into finding and keeping the relationship.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Yep! A lot of it is cultivating semi-regulars and turning them into regulars. I'm often surprised at how frequently I contact someone I haven't worked with in a while and hear "I was just thinking of you, I have this new project..." Maybe I should stop being surprised.