Whether you found yourself choosing the freelance life or getting forced into it, you probably had big visions. Being your own boss! Creating your own schedule! Earning money doing what you love!
Only… a few months into it, freelancers sometimes find reality looks nothing like that picture. In reality, it can be hard to find clients, especially good ones. And earning enough money to live comfortably can be a big stressor when you’re getting started.
If this sounds familiar, listen up: we’re 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 is a lifeline for freelance writers
This business strategy is so important for earning more — and stressing less — as a freelancer. Here’s what monthly recurring revenue can do for you:
Makes your earnings more predictable
Not knowing where your money is coming from or even how much you’ll earn each month is neither fun nor sustainable. Recurring revenue allows you to predict your monthly income, which makes it easier to 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.
Decreases stress levels
Financial stress is often the number one problem for freelancers, especially when you’re just starting out and maybe accustomed 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.
Allows you to 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.
Land 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.
Foster meaningful relationships
When you’re working with the same clients month after month, you’ll inevitably foster deeper relationships. As a result, you’ll better understand what each client wants and how to help them, so you’ll serve them better. You’ll also learn, over time, how to complete your projects more efficiently, which is hugely beneficial if you can move from hourly work to value-based pricing (or getting paid for deliverables, rather than time spent).
Even better, these types of relationships often lead to more work from those clients or from other people in their networks once they refer you.
Tips for generating monthly recurring revenue
Finding recurring work is similar to landing one-off freelance gigs, but it takes a little bit of extra effort.
The first step is to develop a system for pitching and landing prospective clients. We’ve written a lot about how to find freelance clients, including how to use a spreadsheet to track freelance pitches and where to look for freelance writing jobs. Here are more tips about how to convince someone to hire you for a freelance position.
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, go above and beyond the basic requirements to stand out in a sea of other freelancers.
Now here’s the crucial step: 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.
Monthly recurring revenue can come in different forms. The client might commit, for example, to paying you for two blog posts each month. Or they might want to lock in five hours of your time each month.
Why would they do this? Because just like you don’t want to look for a new client every month, they don’t want to spend time looking for a new writer. If they can rely on you for a certain amount of work each month, it makes their life easier and helps projects progress faster.
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, do your best to demonstrate your value, and you’ll soon be on your way to monthly recurring revenue — and a successful freelance business.
Do you have any recurring clients? How’d you find them?
The original version of this story was written by Alexis Grant. We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.
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