More and more web developers are considering freelancing. And realistically, it’s a viable, sustainable method of earning a long-term stable income, with the perks of being able to work with your own schedule and from anywhere you want.
Of course, many developers are concerned with the perceived risks of abandoning their full-time job. And that’s understandable. Especially if your concerns are financial.
But there is a key method to successfully earning a regular, stable income as a freelance web developer.
And I’m going to tell you how.
The answer is really quite simple, and it isn’t nearly as difficult to achieve as you may assume.
Quite simply, in order to maintain a stable source of income entering your bank account each month, you must have a stable pool of clients.
Don’t get me wrong — you don’t need a constant stream of clients appearing from your left and right. But instead, you need to develop a relationship with a number of clients who require your services each and every month, more-or-less.
It might seem like a small catch. But really, it isn’t. It’s incredibly easy.
Realistically, there isn’t a surefire way to ensure that you will take on any specific number of new clients per month. Everybody knows and accepts that.
You can’t have a goal to take on 5 new clients per month, because you can’t guarantee that will happen every single month. And even if it does, the amount you are charging each client is going to vary.
And therefore, you can’t rely on new clients for a stable source of income. Not unless you’re charging $25,000 per pop, anyway.
The status of the market changes from month to month, and of course, there are periods during the year when small businesses are less likely to be spending.
For these reasons, you’ll have to develop your stable income source from alternative means than engaging with new clients every month.
See your new clients as a bonus.
The solution to this dilemma really lies in the retention of your current clients.
One good practice to follow is to develop ongoing relationships with a core base of clients. Ideally, these clients would require services from you on at least a monthly basis.
Clients such as these are likely to be requiring regular maintenance, updates, or changes to their websites every month.
So that is the type of client you’ll be targeting for your core client base.
By working with a clientele like this, you can forecast.
You’re now able to estimate a realistic total figure of your monthly income.
And because you’re freelancing, this is great news.
There are a few ways to make this method a little more reliable. Allow me to explain.
One good example is charging your core client base for passive services. Month-to-month hosting bills and a site maintenance premium, which is paid whether or not you are required to add content to the site or provide one-on-one support in a given month, is a great starting point.
Alternatively, charging these clients for your web development service by means of a rolling monthly installment plan, instead of the usual lump-sum paid upfront, can work in your favor.
By offering a monthly installment contract (use Direct Debit), you’re securing a continued stream of income each month and can foresee the time when you’ll need to take on a few additional long-term clients.
If a client’s contract is nearing its end, you know that it’s a good time to take on a few more.
But now, there is much less pressure, since you have the ability to manage and foresee your income, and so can give yourself the appropriate amount of time to build a rapport with a few new clients.
Of course, you are entrusting the client to deliver their monthly payment using this method, which may feel slightly less settling than demanding a lump-sum upfront.
But with a good contract and the use of Direct Debit or alternative scheduled automated payments, any potential concern lessens dramatically.
Providing everything goes relatively smoothly, you’ve now bagged yourself a nice monthly sum to expect on the regular.
For most of us in the real world, this works much better than managing irregular lump-sum payments, which are usually associated with freelancing. Especially in the webdev industry.
There are indeed many developers who work with a mindset of quantity, though. As in, the more new clients they take on the greater their income will be. But you have to be realistic that you don’t reach burnout, which is a common problem with this method.
Taking on too many clients at once, who each demand complex jobs, can cause a large amount of stress for even the best of web developers.
This is not always the best idea. And that’s particularly the case if your goal in freelancing is to create a steady income for yourself.
Once you’ve created your ongoing client base, you can then take the opportunity to seek out new opportunities with potential clients, as you’ll have freed up more of your time.
Additionally, since you’re no longer putting yourself at risk of burnout, the amount and quality of your work are likely to increase.