If you’re tired of low paying gigs on job boards, learn how to get the clients you want (and deserve): high-quality clients who are great to work with.
Are you looking for an easy way to identify the best clients so you can stop wasting time on the wrong ones?
Would you like to know what it takes to land a client who's right for your skills and will actually pay you what you're worth?
Do you struggle with the hagglers and the bargain hunters and want to know how do freelancers get high-paying clients?
If you’re nodding your head right now, we've got you covered. Growing a business can be tough, especially if you don’t have much spare time and have a lot to learn. It’s stressful to manage everything you have on your plate, but that’s where we come in.
We’re here to make sure you get the best clients and the best gigs so you can focus on what matters most: doing great work.
While overcoming obstacles like finding clients and projects that are a good fit for your skills and interests may sound tough, working with the best freelance clients helps you maximize your earning potential and make the most of your experience as a freelancer.
This blog post will walk you through all you need to know about identifying the best freelance clients: common qualities, red flags, best practices, examples, and more.
The 10 qualities of amazing clients that freelancers are (desperately) looking for:
Good freelance clients pay on time
Good freelance clients know the market value of your services
Good freelance clients need the specific skills that you offer
Good freelance clients are good communicators
Good freelance clients can give you a clear brief and explain their objectives
Good freelance clients have reasonable deadlines
Good freelance clients respect your time
Good freelance clients don't pretend to know everything
Good freelance clients respect your expertise and allow you to do your job
Good freelance clients value their relationship with their freelancers
Buckle up, because here we go…
So, what’s the secret that veteran freelancers have learned that helped them level up their careers?
Client selection — Being intentional about the quality of their clients.
Before you click away, disappointed that I mentioned something as practical and dull as client selection, hear me out. My intent isn’t to be a buzzkill as you learn how to become a better freelancer.
In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
I want you to understand that the quality of the clients you choose to work with is the difference between success and failure. That’s why you must choose your clients wisely.
All clients are not created equal.
<tweet-link>Working with high quality clients is the single biggest determining factor in whether you'll succeed as a freelancer.<tweet-link> You want to work with clients that add value to your business.
Common advice says, "Finding new clients is largely a numbers game." but I'd argue it's numbers AND nuance. If you want to grow your business, you can’t just look for more clients; you have to find the right clients.
Client selection is an important strategic decision, because who you work with affects the:
Every freelancer needs to determine what type of client they want to work with and have a formal process in place for marketing to their ideal client.
Many freelancers take on unprofitable clients because they don’t know any better. They don't know how much time each project will take or how much money they should charge for their services. As a result, they often price themselves too low or agree to work too many hours on projects that don't pay well or pay at all.
As Seth Godin said on the Unemployable Podcast by Brian Clark:
“…the first thing to consider is: your clients define you. If you are going to do the work that makes your clients happy and you’re going to be judged by the work you do, then it makes an awful lot of sense to choose clients who will require work that you can brag about later.
Which raises the question: What kind of clients do you want?
This is an important choice in the life of a freelancer, to decide who we work with. Are you being intentional about the kind of clients you take on?
On that same podcast, Godin asks freelancers “Who will you choose? And who are you serving?”
99% of freelancers will take any client they can get, even though that kind of desperation makes for a poor business strategy if you want to make it big as a freelancer.
One way to gain the confidence to turn down bad fit clients is to remember that <tweet-link>you’re not competing for jobs; you're vetting opportunities and choosing people and businesses to partner with as BOTH of you grow.<tweet-link> The high quality client, no matter whether it's a startup or a Fortune 500 company, plays the game at the highest level. And you should too, if you want to work with high-end clients.
Your prospective clients will have a lot of questions about who you are and what makes you qualified. They'll want to know that they can trust you with their business.
You need to exhibit confidence that you are someone who understands their goals and can help them achieve those goals.
So, how do you know if a potential client will be a good fit? Here are seven signs:
Which brings us to...
As freelancers, many of us have this fear that if we start charging too much for our services, clients will pass us by and take their business elsewhere. This is a legitimate concern. It is NOT, however, the determining factor in how much you should charge for your work or how you should select your clients.
I’ve been a freelancer for 15 years and have worked with thousands of clients. In that time, I've learned what makes a good client and what to look for when deciding who to do business with. If you're looking to get the most out of your freelance career, then read on!
When a client pays on time, they’re showing they respect you and your work. They pay on time because they value you as a professional and want to make sure you know it. If they’re not paying on time, then perhaps the relationship isn’t worth your continued attention.
Consider this viral cautionary tale from redditor arenangelos, a freelancer who asked the community for advice after a client ghosted him for months when payment was due.
If your clients are always late in paying or dispute their invoices, then there is something wrong with the way their business works—and possibly with their attitude towards freelancers in general.
💡Pro Tip: Requesting payment from clients before you begin working is the best way to ensure that they pay you on time.
As a freelancer, you need to know the value of your services. This is extremely important because it will help you determine if an offer is worth taking or not, and it will also help you set your rates accordingly. For example, if I was a web designer and someone offered me $20 per hour to design their website, that would probably be a deal I wouldn’t take because the market average for my type of work should be closer to $75 per hour.
You may think, “but what about all those people who charge less? They must be good at what they do." Well, not necessarily. You see, anyone who charges less than what they are worth in the market usually does so because:
💡Pro Tip: Don’t expect clients to pay you what you’re worth if you don’t know your value. Take time to honestly assess your skillset, experience, and everything else you bring to the table before you decide on pricing for your services.
If you’re the best person for the job, or if your skills or experience are unique, then you'll get more work. That’s because your client knows that they won’t find someone else who can do what they need done.
If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, make sure that all your skills and experience align with what the client needs. When it comes to freelancing, it pays to constantly work on developing high-demand freelance skills.
Don’t only work on your technical skills. You should also develop your "soft" skills like communication, leadership, collaboration, and personal drive.
💡Pro Tip: There are countless resources you can turn to when you want to learn a new skill. Consider Youtube tutorials, Skillshare, and Udemy. Many popular companies also offer courses that can help you, like SEMrush, Google, and even Hectic Academy.
Good communication is key to a successful project.
It’s often overlooked, but communication is the most important part of your job. Communication requires two-way street: not just talking, but listening as well. Good communication is about being open, honest and respectful.
Your freelance career can only improve if you work on improving your ability to pitch ideas, give and receive feedback, and actively listen to clients when they talk to you.
The new Hectic Communicator feature makes communicating with clients a breeze. Use it to keep all communication with your clients centrally organized, archivable, and easy to find and reference. You get:
Plus, you can use Communicator to create a healthy line between your work life and your personal life (Currently available in US and Canada - UK and Australia coming soon).
💡Pro Tip: No matter the medium, if you want to communicate effectively, optimize your message for your audience’s understanding.
If you're a freelancer, then you know how important it is to have clear objectives. If you don't have clear objectives, then you won't have a clear brief. And if you don't have a clear brief, then your client will be confused about what they need from you—which means that it's likely that they won't be satisfied with the work that comes out of the project.
If your client can give you all of this information up front and explain clearly what their objectives are (and why those objectives are important), then you’ll have a much better chance of success because everyone involved will know exactly where they stand and what needs to happen next.
💡Pro Tip: Consider developing a standard project brief. If your client has a brief for you already, great. If they don’t, you're prepared with a way to collect all the information you need to do your thing!
When you're starting out, it can be hard to turn down opportunities that seem like perfect matches. But if a client is unreasonable when it comes to deadlines, he or she may not be the best fit for you—or your business.
To figure out whether a potential client's deadlines are reasonable, consider the following:
💡Pro Tip: Your client is relying on your expertise, which includes a fair assessment of the project timeline. In most cases, clients will accept the timeline if you can provide solid reasoning for it.