Freelance Writers: How to Turn One-Off Gigs into Long-Time, Recurring Clients – 4 Tips

Repeat clients are the foundation of any successful business. Freelance writing is no different. According to the Pareto Principle, 80 percent of your business will come from 20 percent of your clients.

And boy, dos this make finding freelance writing jobs — online and off — easier. How? Consider the following …

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3 Major Benefits of Cultivating Repeat Clients as a Freelance Writer

“Freelance Writers Wanted!” When you  run across a job ad where a client is seeking freelancers, autmatically think long-term beause if you can manage tot turn just a few prospects into repeat clients, this means:

  • You can stabilize your income: This is always a good thing when you freelance;
  • Upsell this client on even more of your services: By increasing the dollar value from one client, you increase your overall income without doing anymore marketing. A major win-win!
  • Make referrals easier to come by: After all, if a client loves your work, it’s much more likely that they’ll recommend you to their network (be proactive about making this happen).

So repeat clients are valuable on a whole lot of fronts, but many freelancers don’t invest effort into turning one gig into a recurring one. They’re not alone.

A Big Marketing Mistake Many Freelance Writers Make

Many entrepreneurs are trained to “constantly market.” I say it on this blog all the time. And what many freelancers take that to mean is going after new clients. After all, isn’t that what marketing is; constantly getting new business in the door?

And the answer is – yes. BUT, business includes paying customers. And who better to market to than those who are already paying you, ie, existing clients? Right?! It’s almost like a eureka moment when you think about it.

4 Super Easy Tips for Getting Recurring Clients as a Freelance WriterFreelance Writers: How to Turn One-Off Gigs into Recurring Clients

To this end, following are four things you should do for every writing job you land to increase your chance of turning an existing client into a recurring one.

I. Deliver Work on Time

This is obvious, but I start with it because barring something extremely serious, you should never, ever, ever miss a client deadline – ever. I live and work from the Caribbean (Jamaica). Things like power and internet outages are much more common than in the U.S., my home country.

I keep this in mind when I set deadlines for clients. Two things I do to ensure that I make client deadlines are batch write and set deadlines for myself a day early. This way, I stay ahead and trick myself into being on time.

I’ve been freelancing since 1993. I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve missed a client deadline. I attribute this to my background in trade publishing.

I worked for a legal publisher in New York City years ago as a Publications Operations Specialist (Pubs Ops Specialist).

This means I was responsible for taking a book from legal editors – proofreading, copy editing, coding, sizing images – to the final, “pushed out the door to the customer”, publishing process.

As a Pub Ops Specialist, if I and/or my colleagues missed a deadline along the way, our manager always let us know that it cost the company money. I took those lessons into my freelance writing business.

A client could have a campaign built around the content that you are supposed to deliver on a certain date. So a missed deadline is more than just not turning in a blog post on time; it’s the company’s money, time and reputation on the line. And yours.

See why you should do everything in your power to ensure a client that you don’t miss a deadline? Let them know up front that you understand what’s really on the line – and that you’ll deliver.

II. Highlight Your Value to Clients

Many freelance writers don’t like to brag about themselves. I get it. But there’s a way to show your value without bragging. Piggybacking on the last point, do you know what the biggest benefit of not missing a client deadline is? It’s building trust and reliance with a client.

Freelance Writers: This is the Main Thing You Want to Prove in a One-Off Gig

Just like in a personal decision, many decisions in business are based on emotion, not money (rate), in case you didn’t know. This is why Copywriter A can command $100/hour, and Copywriter B struggles to earn $20/hour.

When you build trust with a client, they will come to depend on you as a de facto part of their business – consciously or unconsciously. By being reliable, you’ll give them a “warm fuzzy” in the pit of their stomach.

If Freelance Writer A has cheaper rates, but the client is “not quite sure” that they will deliver on time 100 percent of the time because every once in a while they miss a deadline by a day or two; and Freelance Writer B charges more but has never missed a deadline – who do you think they’re more likely to go with?

Clients pay you in part to make their job easier. If they know that your deadlines are “set in stone,” trust me, even a cheaper freelance writer will have a hard time plying them away from you. It most likely just won’t happen because the value you bring to them personally (less stress/worry) and professionally (on-time quality) is priceless. Never forget this.

FYI, there are tons of ways to show your value to a client as a freelance writer – without “bragging.”

One Obvious Place to Find Recurring Clients

One easy way to find legitimate paid writing jobs are on freelance writing job boards like Upwork. And yeah, many of them are low-paying, but  some good ones are can be found there too, as this freelancer (who landed a $50,000 editing contract) proves. Also there are many freelance writing jobs for beginners, which allows newbies to get their foot in the door, raise their online writing profile — and get on the road to higher-paying writing gigs.

III. Give Something Away for Free

And no, I don’t mean content. Let me explain by way of example. Let’s say you were hired to write a blog post for a client. You notice that their blog is updated sporadically.

Off the top of your head, you can think of three, traffic-generating posts it would be good for them to have on their blog. You know this because you write regularly for a client in the same industry and in your research you discovered the top three questions that their customers have.

So, you wrote a series of blog posts for them that the client told you have been well received by their readers. You could suggest the topics to this client, who’s only ordered one blog post from you. Your correspondence could go something like:

As I specialize in this niche, I happen to know that the top three concerns your customer base has is X, Y and Z. I could write up in-depth posts for your blog answering these. This way, you’ll have evergreen content … on some of the most pressing concerns your customers have. I can have these over to you in a week. Let me know if you want to proceed.

Freelance Writers: 4 Benefits of Giving Something Away for Free

This does four things for you as a freelance writer:

  1. It shows that you know your niche;
  2. It makes the client think of you in a different light; as more than “just” another freelance writer;
  3. It upsells them seamlessly without being braggadocious about it; and
  4. It shows that you care about their business because you went above and beyond.

I used to be a home loan specialist (mortgage consultant). I had to take training for this; I did it by way of an online video course. One of the things the trainer said in one of her videos has stuck with me to this day.

She said that most people operate at “MDR” (minimum daily requirement). This means that even if you go a “smidge” beyond MDR, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb – which in this case is a good thing. Even if the client passes on this opportunity, trust me, you will have planted a seed that just might sprout future business

IV. Automatically Upsell

I touched on it in the last tip, but make upselling a part of EVERY project you touch. If a client orders a blog post, upsell them on distributing it to their social media accounts.

Why HostGator is the best web hositing company for freelance writers (IMO)If they order long-form content, offer to turn it into a special report as a lead magnet (free download) to grow their email list.

BTW, I’ve earned thousands of dollars writing short special reports for clients. They’re easy to do, and pay handsomely.

If a client orders social media account management, upsell them on creating graphics for them and/or spinning different versions of it for their different social media accounts.

One Easy Service to Upsell as a Freelance Writer

FYI, becoming a Pinterest VA teaches you how to do stuff like this seamlessly. And, as Pinterest is such a great traffic driver, it’s some of the easiest upselling you will ever do.


Never, ever, ever forget to make marketing to existing clients a foundation of your business. In fact, when you think about “marketing,” this should be the first group you think of. They already know, like and trust your work. Don’t leave money on the table by ignoring them and their needs.

Get More Business Exercise

Take two or three hours and go back and look at your last six clients (or all of them if you have less). If they aren’t already recurring clients, think of something beneficial you can upsell them on. Then, reach out.

This freelancer managed to replace a lost client  by doing this – drumming up over $2,000 in business in just four days. So it definitely works.

If you land a gig, come back and leave a comment or email me to let me know, ok?

P.S.: 2018 Is “The Year of No Freelance Fear!

Why? Because if not this year, when? Afraid? That’s fine. Embrace your fear and do it anyway. The worst that could happen is you wind up right back where you are now. But … what if you succeed? Give yourself a year to pursue your freelance writing dreams. I’m willing to bet you’ll be glad you did.

P.P.S.: Learn How to Start a 6-Figure Freelance Writing Biz Today

Learn SEO, then start landing high-paying writing gigs quickly. It truly is the fastest, easiest way to start a high-earning freelance writing career from scratch. BTW, learn how to start now and pay later.

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