During the transition from quitting my accounting day job to building a full-time freelance business, I struggled to find consistent freelance work. I no longer had a steady paycheck to rely on so it was up to me to land long-term clients on a regular basis.
Having short-term projects and work is great, but when you’re responsible for paying the bills, having consistent freelance work definitely takes the pressure off. But this strategy is often easier than it sounds. Why? Because your freelance situation is always changing.
Some months you’ll have loads of work and feel like you’re rolling in the dough. Other months, a client’s budget will change, or the company’s needs are different, and you’ll find yourself twiddling your thumbs out of boredom.
However, I have a solution! In my three years of being a full-time freelancer, I’ve discovered the best strategies to land consistent freelance work each and every month.
Benefits of having consistent freelance work
When striving for consistent freelance work, one of the main objectives is to land long-term clients. The main benefit to having long-term clients is of course recurring and consistent revenue.
This can be in the form of retainer contracts or various other services, but there are some other added bonuses too. Having consistent freelance work:
- Offers steady income
- Helps you build trust
- Gain more referrals
- Lower marketing costs
- Reduce the learning curve
Like customer acquisitions, it’s always less expensive and less time consuming to turn current clients into long-term relationships. You can spend more of your time working (and making money!) instead of marketing or selling yourself/your services.
This will help you create a higher hourly or project income, and leave more time to grow your business — and maybe even take a vacation!
1. Build relationships not transactions
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; you can’t establish a long-term relationship with clients you find on freelance job boards. No one likes to feel like they’re nothing but a dollar sign — it sucks.
Stop perusing job boards and start building relationships. Don’t make potential clients feel like they’re nothing but a financial transaction to you. Treat them with respect and focus on building relationships instead of just trying to make a living.
Yes, I understand that we all have to pay the bills, but don’t let that be your driving force. Clients and customers can feel your desperation and won’t want to work with you if you lead with the fact that you need money.
Focus on the benefits you provide and the money will follow. Make your current clients feel like you actually care about their business and their overall well-being, then they’ll want to work with you for a long time.
Looking for other job board options? In a recent post, I share 7 of my favorite alternatives to traditional job boards.
2. Attract more clients than you can handle
Instead of focusing all your time and energy on seeking out new clients, make it easy for them to find you on social media and with an optimized Services page on your blog. This is actually the best way to get new clients who can potentially be turned into long-term relationships.
In order to do this, create a Services page on your blog that details your offerings, rates and terms. Next, update your LinkedIn account and Twitter bio to reflect what you do and how you can help potential clients. (Think, “freelance writer for hire”).
Here are some other examples of how you can help clients come to you:
- Publish blog content that shows why people should hire you (your website is a living, breathing portfolio)
- Share helpful advice and start interesting conversations on social media and in Facebook groups
- Get noticed in the media by influential people through interviews and guest blogging
In other words give, give and give some more. Give away free advice, showcase your skills and display your talents and ability so you’ll be portrayed as the kind of freelancer a potential client wants to work with.
3. Ask current clients for more work & referrals
Seriously that’s it. Just ASK! There’s nothing wrong with asking current (or past) clients for more work, referrals or recommendations. In fact, if you’ve cultivated a good relationship with them, they’ll be more than happy to refer you to their friends and colleagues.
Just think about it; when you come across a helpful app or work with someone who takes the stress out of organizing your office, you WANT to spread the word to anyone else who could benefit, right? It works the same way with current freelance clients.
If you put out amazing work and help solve their problems, they’ll want to refer you to others. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal recommendation to turn your current clients into long-term contracts.
4. Write a killer cold pitch email
Writing a killer cold pitch email could mean the difference between finding more freelance work and struggling to pay the bills next month. You want to take your time when crafting the perfect cold pitch email. Make sure you’re approaching the person as a human being, and not like a client-grubbing robot.
Keep your email message to around 200 words or less. Why? Because no one has time to read along essay about why they should work with you and all of your accolades. People are busy so don’t hog all of their time.
Before signing off, end your email with a question. By nature we want to answer questions so you’ll have a higher chance of receiving a response if you end your email with a question.
Need a cold pitch email template? Click here to copy and paste my proven cold pitch email so you can start getting results and more freelance work.
5. Master the art of the follow-up
Writing a killer cold pitch email is great, but closing the deal usually requires a strategic follow-up strategy. Just like you, clients are very busy people. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to work with you. Sometimes your email will get lost in their inbox, or they’re just late getting back with you.
Don’t be afraid to send a nice reminder email or gentle nudge that you’re still willing and available to work with them. Remind them of your skills and your enthusiasm for the job.
Plus, your persistent will prove you don’t just sit around waiting, and that you take the initiative with projects. I know some editors who won’t even look at hiring someone till they get 3 emails from them!
6. Never stop networking
Even when you’ve landed enough clients to fulfill your income needs, that doesn’t mean you should stop networking. You’re building relationships not just transactions, remember? This is actually the most crucial time to keep networking.
You don’t want to be seen as the person who only interacts with people when it benefits you most. It doesn’t take much time to send a quick email, a Twitter reply or a Facebook comment, ensuring regular interaction within your network on a consistent basis.
Offer regular advice in Facebook groups, share your knowledge in a Tweetchat and continue being helpful when you receive questions in your inbox. When the time comes that you are looking for more freelance work, your network will be primed and available to meet your needs — without hesitation.
7. Go the extra mile with loyal clients
When you’re a freelancer you’ll constantly be tempted to say “Yes” to every freelance opportunity that comes your way, and to promise your clients everything under the sun. But you’ll soon find out, like I did, that it’s better to be selective when choosing your clients, and to always under-promise and over-deliver.
There’s an overabundance of mediocre freelancers out there, so by going the extra mile for your clients you can easily set yourself (and your services) apart from the rest. I give my audience and clients the best of the best, whether that’s content, ideas, promotion and whatever else they need.
This will keep them coming back to you for more projects — since you not only get the job done, but you get it done well. You can easily land more long-term clients using this strategy.
8. Say “thank you” and mean it
In addition to going the extra mile with loyal clients, saying “thank you” and actually meaning it, is a simple gesture that is highly underused. But it can have a big impact on your clients.
Your clients are people too and they like to relate to others on a personal level. Do small things like, sending a Christmas card via snail mail, an email to “Get Well Soon” or just a simple, thank you note after completing a big project.
Make sure you’re genuine about it and it will do wonders for your reputation — and for your client’s trust. Taking time to say thank you, is the perfect way to land long-term freelancing clients, as it sets you apart from everyone else.
9. Keep working, even when you don’t have any
The freelance world is without a doubt unpredictable. As you already know, some months you’ll have work stacked up till kingdom come, and the next you’ll be bored out of your mind. This is tough when you’re trying to build a successful business and need consistent income.
The best way to combat this scenario is to keep working, even when you don’t have any. Don’t sit back and wait for clients to come to you. Do work in advance, investigate your competition and keep your skills sharp.
Take a class or course to increase your knowledge or brush up on some skills. Pitch podcasters about being a guest on their show and other bloggers about a guest posting gig. In other words, don’t rely on luck to hopefully catch a break.
Get out there and create your own luck! Ideal clients always want to work with people who are go-getters and don’t need to be poked and prodded to get things done. Show initiative and you’ll be surprised at how many people want to work with you, not only for a current project, but for long-term contracts too.
Have you found a way to drum up consistent freelance work? Share your tips in the comments!