Freelancing is notorious for unstable schedules and fluctuating pay days.
One month might be seriously lucrative, while the next might be a “beans on toast” kind of month.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. In fact, all my clients are on long-term contracts, where we work together month after month. This means they have regular content to promote, and my bank account stays afloat.
It can be difficult making the switch from one-off assignments to recurring work, though.
At the beginning of my career, I was eager to pick up any work I could, which meant saying yes to even the smallest job that came my way. You might be in the same boat.
But I wasn’t moving my business forward.
I was essentially “snacking” on new clients every month, and then I’d have to start all over again finding the next batch for the next month.
It was exhausting.
I started each month in a slump, annoyed that I was back to square one again.
So I decided to shake things up and hunt down long-term gigs and recurring work.
Now, this kind of work isn’t always easy to find, because clients usually come to you with one problem they want solved (or one project they’ve pinpointed). However, there are a couple of ways I’ve successfully turned those one-off gigs into longer lasting relationships.
Now I start each month on a high because I don’t have to rummage around for new clients.
How can you turn one-off jobs into recurring work?
1. Propose a package
I’m willing to bet writing isn’t your only talent. And, if it is, I’m betting you’re not just good at one type of writing.
If you can write blog posts, you can write press releases and social media updates. If you can write compelling copy, you can write sales pages and drip marketing campaigns.
As freelancers, we don’t just have one set of skills. We’re running businesses, after all, so we’re on top of marketing, social media, and all sorts of other elements that go into keeping a business humming.
These skills are often valuable to our clients, but we don’t even realize it.
Think about it: What tasks have you done today besides your client work?
Now think about whether these tasks would benefit your clients in any way. Maybe you’re a natural at creating engagement on Twitter? Or maybe you’re the best at writing headlines.
When it comes to creating an ongoing relationship with clients, you have to offer them something, well, ongoing.
Say, for example, you’ve been asked to write the website copy for a new brand. You could just finish the project, send it over, and never speak to the client again.
Or you could offer other services that complement the website copy, like creating monthly blog posts, writing regular press releases, or touching up product descriptions.
Often, clients don’t realize they need help with something until you point it out. Even if they recognize they need assistance, clients might not realize your skills roll over into that area.
2. Try a retainer
When a potential client comes to you, they want your help to solve a problem, whether it’s attracting more customers, building their brand presence, or encouraging more sales.
There is never just one way to answer these problems.
Usually, there can be multiple assets that come together to create a solution that’s right for the brand, but the client may not immediately see the light.
Yes, altering the copy for their sales page might make a difference, but there’s also the small task of getting people to their site to see said sales page in the first place.
In this instance, you might consider offering a retainer package to the client, where you offer a select number of services throughout the month.
Now, a retainer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do a set-in-stone number of blog posts, press releases, and social media updates each month. It can also mean that you set aside a certain number of hours each month to carry out work for the client, whether it’s a last minute copy rewrite or a time-sensitive blog post.
While you’re on retainer, the client might not need your services, but they still pay you to set aside the hours just in case.
It’s a win-win situation, because your client essentially has a writer “on-call”, while you get a regular monthly paycheck.
3. Go above and beyond
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many clients have come back to me time and time again because I’m professional, easy to get along with, and prompt with my deliveries.
Being the best freelancer you can be is one of the easiest ways to keep clients coming back for more, because reliability is a much-coveted quality in the business world.
When you prove to clients you can get work done in a timely manner, are quick to respond to requests, and complete the work in a way that exceeds their expectations, you’re essentially saying, “Leave this to me, I’ve got your back.”
Think about it this way: When we find a hairdresser, a plumber, or a cafe that works for us, we tend to go back time and time again. It’s exactly the same with freelancing.
Are you looking to get more recurring client work? How do you make sure you don’t have to find a whole new set of clients each month?