So you decided to quit your job to become a freelancer. You had big visions: being your own boss! Creating your own schedule! Earning money doing what you love!
Only… a few months later, your life looks nothing like what you’d pictured. Instead of Skyping with high-profile clients from some exotic cafe, you’re answering poorly paid job ads from your parents’ basement.
If this sounds familiar, listen up: I’m about to let you in on a solid way to get yourself off the feast-or-famine freelance treadmill.
It’s called recurring revenue.
In other words, clients who hire you to work for them on a regular basis: say, one project every day, week or month, which means getting paid by that same client again and again.
Why recurring revenue rocks for freelance writers
Here’s why this business strategy is so important for those of you who want to earn more — and stress less — as a freelancer.
It makes your earnings more predictable
Not knowing where your money is coming from — or how much you’ll earn — is neither fun nor sustainable. Recurring revenue allows you to predict your monthly income, which makes it easier to create a budget and assess how much more work you need to meet your goals.
Even if that recurring client represents only 20 or 30 percent of your total monthly revenue, it’s nice to know you can expect that regular paycheck.
Your stress levels will go down
Financial stress is often the number one problem for freelancers — especially for those who are just starting out and might be used to receiving a steady paycheck each month. Having recurring work and knowing you can pay your bills on time removes a huge amount of stress from your shoulders, which means you can actually enjoy the flexible lifestyle you’ve created.
You can focus on working, instead of pitching
One of the biggest benefits of recurring revenue is you don’t have to spend all your free time searching for more work. More time doing the work — rather than trying to win it — means more money in the bank. Most freelancers also tend to enjoy working more than pitching, so this approach could make you happier in that regard, too.
You’ll find higher-paying gigs
When you have a steady income, the time you do spend trying to win work can be focused on higher-paying writing gigs. Since you won’t be forced to take on projects just because you need the cash, you’ll gradually cultivate a stable of well-paying clients, leading to a lot more money as the years go by.
You’ll foster meaningful relationships
When you’re working with the same clients month after month, you’ll inevitably foster deeper relationships. Not only does this allow you to do a stellar job because you’ll better understand what each client wants and how to help them, you’ll also learn, over time, how to complete your projects more efficiently.
Even better, these types of relationships often lead to more work from those clients or from other people in their networks.
Tips for generating recurring revenue
Finding recurring work is similar to landing one-off freelance gigs; it just takes a little bit of extra effort.
The first step is to develop a system for pitching and landing prospective clients. Impressing clients into hiring you on a recurring basis requires more time and effort, which means you need to be efficient with your inbounding process.
Every time you get a new gig, look at it as an opportunity to win a recurring client. Make sure your work is excellent, submit it before the deadline, and if you can, find a way to add an extra 10 percent of effort to really make it shine. Give that client reason to want to hire you again!
If it’s a reported story, interview a first-person source rather than just quoting an article you find online. If you’re writing a blog post, format it to match other posts on the blog, so the editor doesn’t have to do that himself after you turn it in. Whatever the project is, going above and beyond the basic requirements will help you stand out in a sea of other freelancers.
Once you’ve proven your skill and reliability on a few one-off projects, let your client know you’d like to be considered for ongoing work. Here’s how to land recurring blogging jobs, for example. If they can’t hire you right then, don’t fret. Stay in touch with the client via social media and email, and hopefully they’ll think of you the next time a recurring opportunity pops up.
On all of your projects, strive to demonstrate your value, and you’ll soon be on your way to recurring revenue — and a successful freelance business.
Do you have any recurring clients? How’d you find them?