Never Get Comfortable With Just One Client

Writers should always have multiple revenue streams, even if they all involve writing. In fact, no single client should make up such a large part of your income that you would suffer if you lost that client. Not only is this good money sense, it’s good business sense. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket as the proverb goes.

I can see why a writer would want just one client though. You have one person to invoice – or not invoice if they’re set up on automatic payments. You only have one set of requirements. And you’d have just one client’s deadlines to remember. It sounds like the dream gig as long as that one client is paying you enough money to sustain your life. Having one client can be pretty easy. But it will turn into a nightmare when that client decides to do something else that doesn’t involve paying you for writing.

If you’ve spent your months (or years) working for just a single client, you probably haven’t dedicated much time toward building the other skills required to make it as a freelance writer and a business owner, like marketing yourself. And so, losing your one and only client could mean the end of your writing career. Most clients won’t stay forever – you can pretty much count on that. The key to keeping yourself from becoming dependent on just one client is to diversify your income.

You can make money in lots of different ways either from directly from writing or opportunities created by your writing: writing for clients, magazine or newspaper articles, Adsense, direct ad sales, ebooks, affiliate programs, speaking engagements, books, training courses, etc. When you pick a revenue stream, don’t think about what’s quick or easy. Some of these take time to get established. Instead, think about what you have a passion for.

Let’s say you write about pottery. You can make money by selling advertisements your own pottery blog, writing about pottery for clients, or about teaching pottery classes. If you create pottery as part of your work, e.g. testing out new techniques or taking pictures for tutorials, you could sell the pottery you create.

It’s ok to test revenue streams and to do something different from what everyone else is doing. I’ve always wanted to have a top blog or at least a blog that brought in some money. Tried a few times and I haven’t been able to make it work. Maybe creating a blog from scratch just isn’t the right revenue stream for me.

If you’re wondering whether you have one client that counts for a lot of your income, do a little math. Take a look at your income sources for a typical month and for each source, calculate the percent of your income that source counts for. (Hint: divide income from each source by total income and then multiply by 100.) If you have a client (other than yourself) that makes up a big part of your income, ask yourself whether that’s smart business move. What would you do if that client fired you tomorrow?

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

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8 thoughts on “Never Get Comfortable With Just One Client”

  1. Totally agree. I’m struggling with this now since I’m now getting too much of my income from one client. Not good! It can be hard to find motivation to keep looking for new clients when you have a good one, but it is definitely necessary.

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  2. Great post, LaToya. I’ve had a number of situations where the regular clients have disappeared overnight (one just last week), which has trained me to always keep looking for more work. You have to. The freelance foundation is built on sand and shifts easily – we have to be laying another foundation before that happens.

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  3. Latoya, great post. I am amazed when people say that they have a handful of clients and rely on them for everything. After the birth of my daughter, I have been changing up so much of my business (plus a recent fiasco I had with PayPal) and as I’m rebuilding I’m building up several income streams so that I’ll never find myself in a situation of need.

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  4. It’s alright to have one client if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt they’ll only use your freelance writing services and pay you extremely well. However, it’s probably a good idea to have five to 10 solid clients. In regards to multiple revenues, freelance writers who are graphic and web designers can offer those services in addition to writing. Many people (including me) are looking for good web designers.

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  5. Great article, La Toya. When I first started writing, I had one client who said that if I would just come to work for her, she’d keep me wealthy for the rest of my life. I foolishly gave my other clients the brush, and the one who was supposed to keep me in work forever ended up going bankrupt six months later. NEVER AGAIN! Now I always tell clients who ask me to work for just them that, while I’m glad to work their project into my schedule in a timely manner, I will continue to have other clients. I assure them that having other clients won’t affect the quality of my work…and it never does.

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  6. I’m glad everyone liked the post. I’ve had clients stop their orders with no notice (no hard feelings because they often come back later). It only had to happen once (very early) for me to figure out that relying on just one or two clients isn’t a wise choice. One of these days, I’ll have a blogs of my own producing income and I’ll rely on clients a little less.

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  7. I love having multiple clients. While having one client feels stable because you know what is expected of you and you build up a relationship, working with new people opens you up to new perspectives, niches, styles, etc. I think I learn a lot from taking on all sorts of writing jobs.

    As far as alternative income goes, I’m working on finding sites that pay for syndicated content. My first investigation is into Suite101.com. Theoretically they have high payouts, so writing articles for them could result in some really nice passive income. 🙂

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