Note: This is a guest post by Sheila from the Pinayteenvestor blog. In her blog, she shares personal finance articles that mostly caters to teens and young millennials. If you’re new to online freelancing, you can check her comprehensive guide to help you get started: How to Become an Online Freelancer in the Philippines: Tips for Beginners
Getting long-term freelance clients isn’t as complicated as you think it is. In fact, it is not just about aiming for a 30-40-hour job or landing a contract that lasts for months.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned freelancer, you should be more concerned on retaining your clients than hopping from one client to another.
In this article, I’m going to tell you why having this kind of setup is so much better for online freelancers. I will also give five important tips on how to do it right. These are based on my three years of experience doing online freelancing as a part-timer.
I started my online freelancing career last 2017. I began with a couple of writing jobs and I’m currently working as a website manager.
I did my online gigs while still keeping my full-time day job. And as a part-timer, I’d always prefer having long-term relationships with my clients. In fact, since I started this cyber journey, I only worked with three clients. Two from my previous writing jobs and one at this moment. Three clients for three years, wow!
Now, whether you are a seasoned freelancer or an amateur who is still starting out, I really recommend seeking long-term contract opportunities. What must be the advantages of having this kind of setup, you ask?
Advantages of getting long-term online clients:
Having a long-term relationship with your client is more than just filling your purse with a constant flow of earnings. It will also help you:
- Be more productive instead of wasting days seeking or writing job proposals.
- Save on service charges imposed by online freelancing platforms.
- Set your mind one project at a time.
- Have a comfortable and well-adjusted working setup.
- Build a good portfolio relating to your niche.
But I think the best part of working with long-term clients is the fact that you don’t have to undergo briefings and training all the time. Just imagine the frustration of repeating and undergoing the pre-phase all over again.
As an online freelancer who builds long-term relationships with my clients, here are the tips I can give to ace that sustainable setup.
1. Do a small job — and do it well
I know. You might be wondering why I am saying this but I also realized this concept just recently on getting long-term freelance clients.
Last 2017, my first ever client asked me to write a 2000-word article. You have no idea how excited I was after finally landing my first “real” online job. Only to find out that the topic needs some sort of technical expertise with WordPress.
Basically, that was an in-depth instructional guide for WordPress’ new editor. And that time, I’m still using the outdated classic version of WP.
Yet I was determined enough to learn how to use the new editor so I can make what my client asked me to. It eventually impressed my client so he asked me for another one. Then another one. Until we kept up the pace and he hired me as his writer. The same story goes for my two clients.
You see, freelancers always assume that applying for a 30-40-hour online job is the only way to land a long-term client. Yet they fail to realize that doing small jobs and doing them well is more effective especially for beginners.
It’s just like a loyalty program. You give the client the taste of your service. On the other hand, you get a trial period to see how it’s like to work with this client. And when you two jive perfectly, a long-term contract will be born.
2. Only apply to the online jobs you feel comfortable with
Before even hitting that apply button, you should always consider the job description and working hours that you find comfortable working for.
Remember, your aim is to land a long-term job and even if you and your client clicked on your first “small job”, it will be incredibly hard-working for one that doesn’t suit your side. Perhaps it is a job that requires strict time shift commitment.
Online jobs should help you get a better work-life balance. And if you think it seriously compromises your comfort, then it’s not worth bleeding for a long period.
Getting long-term freelance clients shouldn’t stress you out so much. If it does, it’s time to rethink your approach.
3. Enhance your niche
If you are hopping from one small job to another with no specific expertise to focus on, then I would say you’re just wasting your time.
The thing is, you will never be good at something you are less likely to focus on. You will just end up being an average dude who is not worthy to retain for long term. And the clients you seek for long-term relationships don’t want that. They’ll just dismiss you for someone who could do the job better.
Focusing on one niche will also make you a reputable candidate for the field you have chosen. You don’t have to manually apply for jobs since your value will magnet interested parties.
And come to think of it, how it will also be beneficial on your end. You will eventually find the complicated tasks simpler since you’ve gone a long way.
Also, enhancing your niche will help you think long-term, which is one essential mindset to survive in this kind of job.
4. Build a portfolio
Building your portfolio is somewhat related to my previous point. Because sometimes, enhancing your niche over time isn’t enough. You actually have to go sell yourself for your clients to find you.
Just think of this as a product. No matter how valuable and cost-effective a product is, no one wouldn’t care to even take a single look at it if they haven’t read or heard it somewhere. So what must be done? Yep, promotions and advertisements.
Now, as an online freelancer, building a portfolio isn’t that easy, I tell you. It takes time. It may be a summary of your past online gigs having good reviews or a visual representation of your skills. Perhaps a website, a graphic, or a write up.
But do you know what is the best way to advertise yourself? Well, here’s my secret on getting long-term freelance clients. And it is a confidential one.
That is — word of mouth.
Generally, people care less about the captions you made just to sell yourself. After reading a bit of you, they’ll go directly to the reviews, trying to know how you performed on your previous gigs. That is one crucial factor clients look to project how you will work in the future.
And if you do this right, believe me. You don’t go looking for clients anymore. They’ll be the ones to reach you out instead, so you have a better chance to pick the best offers. In fact, this is how I got my second and third clients.
5. Have a good work ethic
Your goal shouldn’t be landing on a long-term online job opportunity alone. It is just the start. The ultimate goal should actually be keeping your clients for long-term.
And the secret is so obvious, isn’t it? Have a good work ethic. Let me just STRESS that out once again. Have a really really good work ethic that your client will find it hard letting you go.
Apart from working hard, one way to do it right is by thinking out of the box. Online clients prefer hiring someone for a reason, and that is to lessen their workload and focus on more important things.
And you, as part of his extension, should not limit yourself with what you are told to. Perhaps raising a suggestion or recommending better working setups can help make things easier for your client. You’re the one who is an expert on that craft so you surely know better.
6. Be extremely valuable
Lastly, the only sure-fire way on getting long-term freelance clients is to be extremely valuable in the first place.
Think about it, how would clients keep you for a long time if they don’t see you as an asset to their business? That’s why being extremely good at something you do should be one of your top priorities.
This is in conjunction with tip#3 which is enhancing your niche.
But the only way to be superior aside from experience is by taking online courses regularly. This will ensure that you’ll be updated on the latest trends and news on your niche.
Apart from that, you can also do something personal related to your niche. For instance, since I’m a freelance writer, I also have my blog.
What this does is that it allows me to be seen as more authoritative since I’ve personally wrote for myself not just for clients. Plus, this doubles as my portfolio!
How to Land a Long-term Online Job: The Bottomline
Those are my top 5 tips on getting long-term freelance clients!
You have read quite a long content but the bottom line is to get tasks done and make your clients happy. And also, make sure to do the extra mile. Always strive to exceed the expectations.
Lastly, help your client win and everything will come naturally. If I’m the client and would want to hire and retain someone, I will always prefer the one who actually cares about my business. Because when you want to see the business succeed, you will work hard on creating value.
And as we all know, money always follows where the value is. So help your client in keeping that moolah coming, and you will surely find yourself getting retained long enough.
If this post was super helpful, be sure to check this out: How to Get Your First Freelance Job? (My 6 Secrets!)