As we move towards a digital world, more and more people are making the decision to freelance.  The increase in flexibility, as well as the opportunity to grow your client base (as well as your income), offers great appeal.  In America alone, 35% of the workforce have made the decision to work freelance.

If you’re freelancing, you’ll know how difficult starting out can be.  Building up your client base (and therefore your income) can feel daunting at first.  As a result, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you to build your client base.  This will assist you to build your freelance business.

Build your customer base

As you begin working on your freelancing career, your goal is to reach more customers, build on your experience and increase your recommendations.  As a result, your goal is quite simply to attract clients.  Many clients appreciate a subscription model, where they are able to control how much they spend every month.  As a new freelancer, this will also provide you with a base income that you can rely on.

As a new freelancer, you could also attract clients by giving free trial offers to subscribers.  This could encourage customers to try your products.  You could also offer up different price levels, where clients could pay a small amount per month in order to subscribe to a basic service.  By making your entry level pricing much lower, you would be able to attract clients who would be excluded from the traditional pricing charged by freelancers.

By building your client base in this way, you will be able to create a basic income as well as gain valuable experience as a freelancer.

Offer a wide range of solutions

As a freelancer, you will be able to establish a unique market for yourself if you work in a niche or specialized field.  If you’re a writer, you’ll be able to establish your client base in this niche field.  However, many of your clients may value a design element when it is added to their work.  By bringing in a freelancer with a different specialty or niche, you would be able to increase your range of services.

As a freelancer offering a wide range of services, you would be able to bill for the full service, pay your partner his share, make a markup and offer an excellent end product.  This will help you to boost your income.  When working in this way you’ll need to ensure you bring in a reliable and affordable freelancer to assist you. This way you will able to offer your clients excellent work while keeping the project hassle-free.

Offer a unique add-on service

If you want to stand out from the competition, you could always offer a unique add-on service to ensure that you get the results you would need.  An example would be a website design service which offers the additional bonus of monitoring and evaluating site traffic, where it comes from and how long people stay on site.  This will help a client to analyze the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

As a freelancer, you will be able to make a profit from this additional element to your work.  Your client will be happy.  You will also be able to offer up an opportunity for steady income to an additional freelancer (who may later recommend your services).  This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

If you can offer unique services on a contract basis, this will help you to maximize your reliable monthly income.  Creating unique projects may feel hard, but you can come up with excellent ideas by finding out what your clients would most benefit from after your services have been completed, and what you can do to assist them further.

Offer your knowledge

Not all clients will be able to afford your full services, but you can still offer up information as a consultant.  As a site designer, for example, you can assist clients who want to build their own websites with best plugin advice or advise them on colour or typography choices for their brand.

You could also offer up a range of ‘How to Guides’ for a small fee.  These guides could help your clients to build their own sites step by step based on a range of helpful tips.  You would be sharing some of your knowledge, but if this knowledge brings you a reasonable income from clients who could not afford your services, it makes a great addition to your freelance services.

Calculate your hourly rate carefully

Marketing carefully means understanding the income you need in order to manage your bills and grow your freelance business.  If your hourly rate leaves you struggling each month, worried about what to do during a quiet patch, or unable to make repairs on your essential equipment, this means that you are undercharging for your services.

As a freelancer, some jobs will (unexpectedly) take more time than others.  However, your basic rate should be calculated so that it brings you enough income to comfortably survive each month.  If it is not doing this, you need to up your hourly rate.

Once you have worked out the cost of your project, invoice your clients regularly.  Don’t wait to send out your quotes or invoices.  The more quickly you send out your quotes, the more quickly you will receive feedback from your clients.

Upsell to existing clients

Your existing clients provide you with a great income opportunity.  Many freelancers manage by deepening their relationships with existing clients.  This means extending your services, offering new products or extending your contracts.

Upselling doesn’t have to be difficult.  You don’t need to force your clients into an uncomfortable arrangement.  Instead, it’s simply about finding out what your clients need most and finding a way to give this to them.  By establishing your client’s future goals or gaps in knowledge you could offer to meet their needs.  This is beneficial to your clients because you already have a trusting relationship with them.

The next time you have completed a project with your client, ask them about their next steps.  Find out what your client is looking for when it comes to success.  You can then quote your client for this new part of the job.  When the client is ready, you will be able to take on the new project or goal.

Add extra time to your working week

By working longer hours, you will be able to increase your income.  However, this doesn’t mean giving up your life to work while doing very little else.

Simply by adding half an hour to your morning, then cutting your lunch break by 30 minutes, you will be able to add an extra hour to your day.  Over a monthly period, this will add a couple of extra working days to your billing time.

Offer specialist services

As a freelancer, your goal is to stand apart from your competition.  As a result, you will want to establish what makes you stand out. What can you do that other freelancer in your field don’t offer?  What makes you unique?

Once you have established your specialization, you can charge more for these services.  This is what makes you stand out from your competition.

Join forces with other freelancers

As a freelancer, you don’t have to work on your own.  By joining up with other freelancers in a unique marketing niche, you will be able to offer a wider range of services as well as make referrals to one another.  This will expand your client base – and therefore your income.

Collaborating with other freelancers will also enable you to take on bigger projects.  The more skills you have to offer in combination, the greater the work you can explore.  As a freelance collaboration, you will be able to approach bigger clients, expanding your income potential.


As a freelancer, establishing your client base and increasing your earning potential will be one of your biggest challenges.  As a result, we’ve come up with a guide to assist you to establish yourself.

By continually working to increase your client base as well as your income opportunities, you will be able to grow and develop your freelance business as well as your reputation in the field.

And if all else fails, design elegant fonts and sell them online. Or various graphics.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.