Contractors and freelancers can choose to run their businesses in a number of different ways. Those operating service-based businesses may decide to pursue a number of smaller projects with lots of clients. That can keep your workload varied and provide the reassurance that when a client does not return for more work, there are always plenty more lined up. However, depending on your business model, that may not necessarily be the best approach.
Others choose to work with far fewer clients on longer-term contracts. That can reduce the need to constantly market your services and all the to-ing and fro-ing before a project begins. It will also allow you to dedicate more of your time to paid work, potentially increase your earnings and allowing you to have more time off.
If you would like to make the shift from one-off projects to long-term contracts, these are some of the changes you can make to smooth the transition…
Clients looking to start work in a new area will often use a small project to road test their idea and see whether it could work on a larger scale. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase your skills and show that can you provide the flexibility the client needs when scaling up the project. For that reason, you should always treat smaller projects as a gateway to a bigger opportunity and approach them in a way that would sustainable over the longer-term.
Your aim is to become your client’s long-term partner and show you are someone they can rely on not only to deliver quality work on time but also provide additional value. You are the expert in your area so if you think the client is missing a trick or could benefit by changing their approach, make sure you tell them. Sharing valuable ideas that help your clients reach their goals shows that you’re invested in their success and want them to generate the best possible return.
One of the biggest shifts in your mindset must come when choosing which clients you want to work with. In the early days, you’ll be happy to accept all the work that comes your way, but as you become more established, you’ll get an instinctive feel for the clients that will be easy to work with and pay you on time.
There are a number of factors that may indicate whether a client is one you might like to build a long-term relationship with:
It’s likely there’s a good reason why clients come to you for one-off tasks rather than long-term projects. The way you position your business through your website or other marketing materials has a crucial part to play in the type of clients you attract.
Providing details like client testimonials and having a portfolio of work that reflects the type of projects you want to be involved in can give your clients the reassurance that you’re up to the job. You should also double check that your online presence and all customer communications are professional and error free.
Being proactive and working to nurture and build relationships with your clients can really pay off. Keeping in touch through social channels and direct email can keep you at the forefront of their minds, even if they don’t need your support right now. Asking for the results of a previous project you were involved in, identifying a potential area of work that might interest them or informing them of complementary services you offer can all be worthwhile.
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