Imagine that you're a freelance writer with a new writing business. You're eager to grow your client base, but you aren't quite sure which is the best way to go about it.
On the one hand, you don't mind loading up your Google calendar with a dozen or so smaller but consistent jobs from clients eager to kick-start their content writing strategies. It's a great way to build momentum and make a name for yourself as the freelance writer and editor everyone wants and trusts. Not to mention, you're willing to put in long hours to keep up.
But then again, your colleagues ask why you spend all your time on a laundry list of smaller assignments when you could be more selective and only focus on two or three large clients.
Two or three large clients that net you $10K or more in monthly income, OR ...
12 or 15 smaller clients that net you similar monthly income but spread you out more.
It Is Dangerous to Rely on Fewer Large Clients!
While it's enticing as a freelance writer to be selective and focus on large clients that keep you busy and pay exceptionally well, depending on them alone when you're just starting your writing business can be risky. This is called customer concentration risk, where you rely on a small number of large clients for a significant percentage of your company’s revenue.
Several things can go wrong with this tactic and deep-six your writing business.
One or two large clients leave, stop paying, or delay payment – Sure, you can charge higher prices and rake in the money without burning the midnight oil. But all it takes is for one or two of those large clients to leave, stop paying, or delay payment, and you suffer a massive pay cut overnight.
They can divert your resources – Catering to each client’s needs is important. But when you start focusing all your attention and resources on two or three large clients, you might not have the capacity to keep up with their unique and ever-evolving needs and still take care of any smaller clients you happen to sprinkle in along the way. The next thing you know, you risk not having any clients.
They can hold negotiating leverage – It's not uncommon for companies to pressure freelancers to lower prices, make exceptions on their behalf, or request more of your time and energy without considering that you have other clients to care for. This can lead to losing a lot of money and clients if you don't find a way to keep them happy.
Things change a lot – When it comes to large organizations, things change. Their focus changes, agendas change, and even leadership dynamics change. They can add a few staff members, create a marketing department, and reshape their marketing budget from year to year. As a result, a large client that really needed you one day suddenly doesn’t a week later. Who do you still have in your funnel to make up for that?
It's Always Better To Have MORE Smaller Clients Than FEWER Larger Clients!
In writing this post, I'm not suggesting that you not go after the big fish! I have a few large companies that I still write for to this day, and I've loved building long-term relationships with them. But unless you have an established business and a team of writers by your side to shoulder the load, avoid putting all your eggs in one basket and be open to having a more diversified client base. It will serve you well later.
As a writer, I want to help anyone I can, regardless of their company's size. And I think that diversification between small and large clients has helped me grow Edit This® into a successful writing business over the past nine years.
By having a longer list of smaller clients, you are more likely to have jobs in your funnel each month consistently. More importantly, these are people who see the value you provide them.
They want to work with you long-term and may be open to doing more business in the future.
I can't tell you how many clients I've had over the years who started with a one-off press release or two blog posts a month and quickly expanded to four blog posts a month, a book, website copy, and various other writing and editing projects. Many of my clients have been with me for seven or eight years, and they refer other businesses my way. I've had others who left because of tough economic times or changes in company direction, but many of them returned when they recovered.
And because of the focus on having more small clients rather than catering only to large clients, I was never at risk of taking a massive pay cut overnight.
Need Some Writing Business Tips? Call Edit This!
I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to share with other writers and editors who are just starting out on their own what worked for me, what didn't, what I wish I did differently, and everything in between. This way, they can start their writing business faster and with more confidence than I ever had all those many years ago.
A writing consulting and coaching professional works collaboratively with a writer to help take their passion for writing from a hobby to a successful freelance writing career. We aren’t your editor, writer, ghostwriter, or second set of eyes, and we won’t take the steps toward small-business ownership for you. But we will coach you through getting that business started, including giving you practical advice, actionable step-by-step instructions, accountability and structure, and anything else we can do to help you overcome obstacles that may pop up.
Everything starts with a FREE 30-minute call. From there, we'll map out a customized plan with action steps to create the road map that turns your hobby into a successful writing business.
There are hundreds of ways to flex your creative writing muscles and build a successful freelance writing business. And we want to help.
Thank you for reading!
STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This®, a writing and editing services company in Denton, TX. He is also a consultant and coach and the author of Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.
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