Turning a Freelance Gig into a Long-Term Partnership
There are two types of freelancers.
The first type views freelancing as a side-hustle. They still hold a 9-to-5 job and most of their time and energy goes into that career.
But they also want a little more - more money, or more creative freedom, or more challenging work. So, they dabble in freelancing.
The second type deep-dives into freelancing. They’ve left their 9-to-5 job and view freelancing as their new career.
They also want more - but on a bigger scale. So, they’re all in.
Both types usually start out in the same way. They’re trying to secure a freelancing gig, so they may take advantage of online freelancing platforms, or try to find freelancing opportunities through networking.
Hopefully, they start to land some gigs. But it’s at this point that the two types go in different directions.
For the part-time freelancer, gigs come and go. They take whatever they can get, whenever they can get it. They view gigs as short-term opportunities.
But for the “all-in” freelancer, a gig isn’t just a one-time job or a short-term opportunity. They’re looking to establish connections with clients and create long-term opportunities.
They want to know how to turn a freelancing gig into a long-term partnership.
Here’s the secret. Turning a freelancing gig into a long-term partnership is beneficial for both types of freelancers, and there are a few key ways to do it.
First, let me explain why it’s beneficial for both types of freelancers.
Of course, the long-term freelancer sees the benefits because he wants to secure gigs that will keep generating income and help him grow his freelancing business.
He knows the value of creating multiple streams of income as a freelancer , especially if those streams keep flowing.
Having a long-term partnership means more jobs, and more money, are coming in.
As an added bonus, long-term clients are also more likely to recommend you among their networks, so this partnership can generate additional opportunities for you.
Maybe you’re thinking, freelancing is just a side-hustle for me, and long-term partnerships would require too much from me.
Let me explain how long-term partnerships can even benefit a part-time freelancer.
If you’ve correctly turned a freelance gig into a long-term partnership, you’ve got a constant source and a sustainable stream of income from which you can supplement your side-hustle.
You no longer have to go online looking for gigs, or filling out bids, or spending your precious time and energy networking.
Additionally, your work becomes more efficient.
One of the hardest parts about working with a new client is the process of figuring out what they want and how to communicate with them.
Defining their design aesthetic, determining the best way to meet their needs, and learning what they really want when they ask you for something, are all hard to do at first.
They take time, require extra effort, and often involve mistakes at first.
But, once you’ve worked with a client for a few months, you can begin to anticipate their needs, develop the solutions they need quicker, and know what they want without asking.
As a result, you deliver better results, move quicker, and make more money.
So, long-term partnerships with even just a few clients can greatly benefit your freelancing business, whether you’re a part-time or all-in freelancer.
The real question becomes, How do I turn a freelance gig into this type of long-term partnership that benefits my freelancing business?
We all know that the freelance industry has become increasingly saturated, and it can be difficult to stand out and secure long-term freelance gigs.
Here are a few key ways to successfully create this type of long-term partnership with a client.
1. Show Interest by Asking Questions
When you begin freelancing you are, of course, focused on your business. That’s natural.
But, to really build a long-term partnership, you’ve got to shift your focus to the client.
You have to understand the client’s business, needs, and motivation. You need to show that you are interested in really helping them achieve their long-term goals, not just delivering on a short-term gig.
Understanding the long-term value of client relationships, instead of only focusing on immediate gain, is part of embracing the journey as a freelancer .
That means, you’ve got to ask questions. People love talking about themselves. Begin by finding some common interest so that you can connect with the client.
Clients want to work with someone they like, someone they feel comfortable with, someone they feel connected to.
At the most basic level, you can talk about how their business got started and where they see it heading. This will give you valuable information about whether or not this client relationship should be turned into a long-term partnership.
Not all long-term partnerships will benefit you. By asking a few questions at the start, you can determine if this short-term gig is really something you want to develop into a long-term partnership.
If it is, continue asking questions about what is important to them in this business. What struggles are they facing? What goals do they have?
The more you understand about their business, the better chance you have of being able to offer them valuable services.
A long-term partnership should be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
When they see that you are really genuine and invested in trying to help them, they will want to continue working with you.
It’s a win-win situation.
2. Create Trust by following Through
Building a rapport with your client will create a sense of trust and show them that you value their business and are committed to the partnership.
The worst thing you can do is botch the short-term project they’ve hired you for.
Clients will only continue working with a freelancer they trust to follow through and deliver on time.
Of course, things happen. Clients change the scope of a project or demand faster delivery. Or maybe you deliver exactly what they asked for, but they’re still not happy.
That’s when effective communication skills are crucial.
Trust is created through transparency and communication, as well as by following through on what you promise.
In order to avoid an unhappy client, keep in touch regularly and communicate often. Keep them updated on the status of their project.
Be honest about any set-backs and provide them with an updated timeline.
Be sure to follow up with them if you haven’t heard from them in a while and always respond quickly to any queries or requests.
These effective communication skills are one of the essential habits to practice that will help you be successful as a freelancer .
These days, it’s harder and harder to find someone whom you can really trust.
If a client realizes that they can trust you to make things right and deliver, even through set-backs or unexpected changes, they will want to continue building a partnership with you.
3. Demonstrate Initiative by Thinking Ahead
The key to forming a long-term partnership is to go above and beyond the expectations of your client.
This is one key tip for securing high-paying freelance gigs and turning those gigs into long-term partnerships.
High-end clients are looking for a freelancer who offers more value for their business.
Once you successfully deliver on a short-term gig, try offering to work on a trial project to showcase your skills.
This allows you and your client to test the waters and assess if the partnership is a natural fit.
During the process, demonstrate your creativity and flexibility, and showcase how you can tailor your services to their needs and provide valuable insights.
For example, if a client asks you to write content for their website, and you notice the website isn’t tailored for mobile users, offer your expertise in web development to help them reach mobile users and generate more sales.
Or maybe you realize that their systems could be updated and integrated more efficiently. Let them know that you’re happy to help them with this and explain the added value for their business.
This is when truly understanding their business, because you asked the right questions in the beginning, pays off.
If you’ve neglected to really get to know your client, you won’t be able to communicate how you can help them further, and you won’t be able to take the initiative to build a long-term partnership.
Knowing your client well, thinking ahead, and offering effective solutions show that you take initiative.
This type of initiative can set you apart from the scores of other freelancers competing for a client’s business.
4. Provide Value by Offering Excellence
This plays out in several ways.
Of course this means handing over an excellent product to your client. High-end clients, especially, are paying premiums to get excellent results.
But even smaller gigs deserve your best efforts. Excellence for every client is part of Freelancing 101 for Devs .
This might mean not taking on more than you can handle. Realize when your time and energy are stretched to the limit, so that you don’t end up with too many projects that turn out to be sub-par.
Prioritize which clients and projects are going to be beneficial for you in the long-term. Then, focus on providing them with excellence.
Part of the value of working with you should be that clients receive excellent customer service. Make sure you are available and responsive to their needs.
This doesn’t mean you can’t establish boundaries and routines to support your mental health and ensure your best output.
But, understand that poor customer service is a problem everywhere. Clients have enough headaches.
They aren’t going to be open to a long-term partnership with a freelancer who offers substandard customer service.
In addition to excelling in your services and interactions, have a consistent pricing structure and ensure that you are providing value for their money.
Offer great incentives to encourage your clients to remain loyal, such as offering discounts on one-off jobs or providing extras such as free consultations or resources that can benefit their business.
You should also be open to changing or adapting your services as your client’s needs evolve.
The bottom line is this: Is your work associated with excellence?
Ask yourself, What do I need to do or change so that clients expect to get excellent value when working with me?
Whatever the answer is, do it.
Creating a culture of excellence is what will entice clients to turn a short-term gig into a long-term partnership with you.
Finding and transforming a successful short-term freelance gig into a long-term partnership takes hard work, dedication, and excellence.
It might take some time and practice to find the right gigs and clients who will be mutually beneficial in a long-term partnership.
You’ll need to practice these four keys consistently:
- Asking questions to show interest in and learn about the client’s business,
- Following through so you earn the client’s trust,
- Thinking ahead so you can solve the client’s problems and show initiative,
- Offering excellence in a variety of ways so you can provide value to the client.
Whether a part-time or full-time freelancer, if you do these things you will soon find that clients pursue working with you.
And these successful long-term partnerships will help grow and sustain your business so that freelancing affords you the life you’ve always wanted.
Thanks for reading!
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Juan Cruz Martinez
Juan has made it his mission to help aspiring developers unlock their full potential. With over two decades of hands-on programming experience, he understands the challenges and rewards of learning to code. By providing accessible and engaging educational content, Juan has cultivated a community of learners who share their passion for coding. Leveraging his expertise and empathetic teaching approach, Juan has successfully guided countless students on their journey to becoming skilled developers, transforming lives through the power of technology.