One of the advantages of being a freelancer is that you can collect income from multiple sources each month. The average freelancer works for 4.5 clients a month, an Edelman Intelligence study for Upwork and the Freelancers Union found. Six in 10 freelancers find this more secure than relying on a single employer for income.
But finding multiple clients can be a challenge, especially if you’ve gotten in the habit of relying on a small client base. Here are three ways you can diversify your freelance client base in order to ensure a steady stream of multiple income sources.
Reposition Your USP to Attract New Markets
One of the most efficient ways to start attracting more clients is to modify your unique selling proposition, says 21st Century Marketing Systems CEO Richard Johnson. A USP is a brief statement, typically 90 words or less, that summarizes what your brand offers customers that your competition doesn’t. The way you express your USP through your marketing campaigns plays a major role in determining which prospects you attract. By changing your USP, you can change your target audience.
There are a few main ways to adjust your USP. One is to change the price range you emphasize. For instance, if you want to attract higher-paying buyers, you can gear your marketing toward customers who are willing to pay premium pricing for higher quality. Luxury car companies such as Mercedes-Benz use this approach. Freelancers can take this approach by targeting business clients rather than consumers in order to command higher prices, for example.
Another way to adjust your USP is to offer more value than your competitors for a comparable price. Burger King uses this strategy by portraying the Whopper as a bigger hamburger than McDonald’s Big Mac. Offering add-on services or bonuses is a way freelancers can employ this strategy.
A third way to change your USP is to offer higher quality than your competitors. Apple has used this tactic successfully by building a reputation for quality products. Freelancers who can showcase a portfolio of quality work can adopt this approach.
Another effective way to modify your USP is to offer better service than competitors. Ritz-Carlton uses this strategy by offering more personalized services than competitors in the hotel industry. You can deploy this strategy by emphasizing service in your USP.
A fifth way to adjust your USP is to appeal to niche markets. Microsoft uses this strategy by offering computer products for business customers, such as Office 365, in contrast to competitors such as Apple who appeal to the consumer electronics market. Freelancers can use this strategy by focusing on a niche your competitors aren’t serving. For instance, if you speak Spanish, you may be able to reach out to Spanish-speaking customers who aren’t being served by your competitors.
Leverage Existing Business Networks
Another way to diversify your client streams is to tap into existing networks in order to attract established customer bases from business peers, allies, or competitors. It’s much more cost-efficient to leverage these types of existing networks than to build a customer base from the ground up.
For instance, Amway has been in the direct sales business for over six decades and has built an international reputation for quality health, beauty, and home care products. An entrepreneur trying to break into direct sales on their own might take years to build their reputation and develop an effective marketing strategy. By joining Amway, an independent business owner can tap into Amway’s established reputation and use their proven marketing strategies and materials to accelerate their business growth.
Freelancers can replicate this strategy by building alliances with established companies. For instance, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, you might partner with other businesses that have clients in need of graphic design they can refer to you, such as website development companies. Or if you’re a freelance writer, partnering with a marketing agency that has clients in need of content development can be an excellent way to get steady work. Joining local chambers of commerce, visiting trade shows, and joining professional associations are other ways to leverage existing business networks.
Another efficient way to grow new segments of your client base is to cultivate referrals from your existing customers. Referrals are less costly per acquisition than traditional marketing efforts. Additionally, because referrals come from a trusted source the prospect already knows, it’s easier to cultivate trust with prospects generated through referrals.
One effective way to cultivate referrals is by offering incentives to customers who promote you to others. For instance, Dropbox grew rapidly by offering extra storage space both to customers who made referrals and to customers brought in through referrals. The result was that sign-up rates increased by 60 percent, and 35 percent of all new customers are now generated by referrals.
Freelancers can easily borrow this strategy by offering discounts to customers who make referrals, or to customers who are directed to them by preferred referral partners. To implement this strategy effectively, make it a practice to ask for referrals each time you complete your first project for a satisfied customer.
Refining your USP, leveraging existing business networks, and cultivating referrals are three simple but effective ways to diversify your client base. Deploying these strategies can allow you to enjoy steady streams of income coming in from multiple sources, empowering you to spend less time on marketing and more time earning money.