How to find long term freelance clients and build strong work relationships

Today, I am sharing with you the tips that helps you to find long term clients. & How to build strong work relationships. If you have stepped into the freelancing business and want to become a successful freelancer, it is necessary for you to get work/projects continuously to ensure steady income. You must have at-least 2-3 clients who provide you projects on a long term basis so that you are not worried about finding new clients after a short project is completed. If you have 1, 2 or even several short term clients who give you one time projects, you must learn how to retain them by converting these clients for a long term.

Whether a client hires you for a short project with a tight deadline or for a longer duration project, it is entirely up to him. It also depends upon the nature of the project you are being assigned but I am going to share with you a couple of tips that will help you to retain your short term clients and make them hire you again and again.

I believe that having 2 to 3 regular clients is enough for a freelancer to be successful and secure plenty of work and income, provided he also makes efforts to do something extra that can serve as a backup. He should learn how to invest or utilize the earned income in a fruitful way such that an extra income source can be produced from it. For now let’s focus on how to find and retain long term clients as a freelancer:-

1. Apply more for long term jobs/projects

If you wish to have a constant income stream as a freelancer, you have to look for a couple of permanent clients that give you regular projects. To get such clients it is advisable to apply for projects that have a duration of 3, 6 or 12 months for completion. Although I must mention that this is not easy or going to happen suddenly, a client will hire you for a short term project initially. He will then evaluate the quality of your work, the way you work and how you are as a person. If he is satisfied with everything and gives you a good review, you have an opportunity to get hired for a bigger project by him.

Another advantage of applying for long term projects is that you don’t have to apply after every few days as is the case with shorter projects. All the practice, pitching, writing a cover letter and finally giving an interview to get a project takes a lot of time and hard work. It has to be repeated every time you see a project that you are interested in, be it short term or long term. For these reasons it is much better to commit one’s energies for getting a long term project. If the same amount of hard work is put into finding and applying for bigger projects, it is much more beneficial both time and money wise. But this does not mean that you ignore shorter project completely because sometimes these shorter projects will help you to find longer projects and long lasting relationships with clients.

2.  Convert short duration jobs into long term jobs and relationships

So you saw how you can apply for short term and long term projects at the same time. Now we will see how you can transform a one time project into an opportunity that will give you long term benefits:

(i)  The most important thing that will make a lot of difference is that the quality of your work should be top grade.

(ii)  Your conversation style, behaviour and language should be efficient, polite and honest.

(iii) You should strictly adhere to the time limits set by the clients and deliver on time.

(iv) Only promise what you can accomplish. Don’t set the expectations too high.

Following articles are especially written so you can understand the business communication and commitments.

How to communicate with clients effectively

How to improve freelancing business communication skills

I have written the above mentioned tips to emphasise the focus you should have for the client and his work when you are working with him for the first time. Take it with due seriousness and give your best so that the client is satisfied and happy with it. The happier your client is at the end of the day, the better are your chances of getting hired by him again for another project. So your aim should be to get a 5 star review and a positive feedback from him.

3. Realign yourself to meet market demands

The third way of finding and especially retaining clients is by preparing yourself for what is being demanded at any time. You should explore your profile and skills to see how you can improve and represent yourself better, such that your services are always in demand. For example if you a logo designer, it is good that you have expertise in logo designing but think of the long term possibilities. A company will get a logo made once only and you will have to look for a new client/company again and again, which is not so easy. If the market is down then you will have to fight harder for getting logo designing projects since companies will not be eager to start or rebrand themselves during recession. For these reason it is important to explore your potential and find out what are the things you can do to become relevant and in-demand at any given time. In the above example, the logo designer can try to explore the possibilities in Graphic designing, Banner Advertisement designing, Product design and retouching etc. and then apply for such jobs also. When you finish a task for a client and he gives you a good feedback along with the due payment, you can ask him to consider you for similar projects in the future too, telling him you are continuously learning to become even better and more versatile.

4. Use Creativity to stand out from the crowd

A client can receive dozens of proposals from freelancers each day for a posted job. How does he decide who to choose? In freelancing and in any other business for that matter, your creativity is like a weapon that will make you different than others and your services more attractive than anyone else. The client knows that several freelancers who have applied can do the job in exactly the same way so he may be looking for an out-of-the-box idea from someone. If you can use your creativity to give him a unique solution to his problem, he will choose you over many other more experienced candidates. You can tell him about an upgrade and how it will benefit him, you can tell him how adding a function will improve his process, how a new design can attract more traffic to his site etc. So if you give him something extra that others are not, you have a much higher chance of not just getting a project but also of getting multiple project from the same client. All he cares about is how it can benefit his business so don’t be afraid to share your ideas with him, even if it’s not a part of the project being given to you. So this way you can create an opportunity for yourself such that the client is forced to think about your suggestions and possibly hire you if he thinks your ideas have substance.

5. Maintain good relationships with old clients

The fifth way is to hold onto your existing clients and keep them satisfied. You must be ready to apply for projects that are on a larger scale and difficulty if you want to find bigger clients and you must be ready to work extra hard to keep them happy. Maintaining cordial relations is even more important if you manage to find some clients who have a vast business and need repeated services from freelancers. If your creativity, hard work and personality clicks with a client like this, it could be the turning point of your freelancing career.

Friends, since freelancers don’t have a boss who can keep a check on them, they have to keep a check on self. Since we are freelancers we have to keep searching for new clients continuously, we must use our creativity and imagination. Most important of all, we must be able and willing to mould our skills and knowledge according to the changing demands of the market.

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