Recurring Revenue

How to Maintain Recurring Revenue as a Freelancer

Lauren Bonk

You’re a freelancer. You’ve kicked off the cubicle shackles, told the water cooler “peace out, bro, I’m buying a Brita pitcher,” and the only printer you’ll be smashing in a field while listening to rap music is the one you buy yourself. (For the record I don’t recommend that unless you’ve exercised all your options.)

When the jobs are plentiful and the money’s rolling in, it’s easy to breeze about with both your laptop and your freedom while freelancing the hell out of the place.

However, when the jobs are scarce and Ramen noodles make up 60% of your weekly meals (out of necessity rather than choice), it’s not so easy to be a freelancer. There’s the possibility of stress no matter where you work or who you work for, and when you become a freelancer, it’s the stress of financial stability that takes over.

Recurring revenue is simply defined as “income that comes in on a recurring basis.” That’s not a dictionary or anything… it’s just me. Now I realize that the idea of recurring revenue might fit into the “magical fantasy unicorn” category, but the truth is that it actually fits in the “easier said than done” category.

It is. It’s much easier to say “I’m going to gain some recurring revenue!” than to actually do it… but it’s not impossible. It just takes some work. Let’s run through the benefits of recurring revenue first:

Benefits of Recurring Revenue

Financial stability, friends, financial stability. I don’t need to do too much explaining here, right? By acquiring a client who wants consistent weekly or monthly work from you, you’ll be securing a paycheck you can count on on a regular basis. Those kinds of paychecks pay for things like rent, utilities, and help you maintain basic living functions.

Higher quality work. When you work with a client for an extended period of time, you’ll get to know their company better, which will in turn make your work better… which will, eventually, bring in more clients who want your recurring services.

Room to grow. It’s hard to focus on the growth and improvement of your business when you’re focused on the growth of the pile of bills on your kitchen counter. Scoring a regular paycheck will help you transfer your focus from survival to thriving.

But… how? HOW!?

Once you’ve made the decision to build some recurring revenue, it’s time to evaluate which of your services could be turned into a recurring service, or even a product that could bring you passive income.

For Writers:

A freelance writer could create some monthly blogging packages for their clients. These packages could include a specific number of posts each month and every month until one of the parties terminates the agreement.

For Graphic Designers:

Graphic designers, who will often create logos or branding packages as a one-shot-contract, can offer a monthly marketing option that creates brand-customized image design for social media and traditional marketing use.

For Web Developers:

Seasoned web developers know that a finished website rarely means a finished client relationship. Small glitches, general questions, and content changes will often have former clients asking developers for a “quick favor” to change something on their site.

Well, regardless of the size of that “quick favor,” it’s going to take you valuable time to fix it, and that’s valuable time that you should be getting paid for. Offering monthly maintenance plans, or taking it a step further and adding hosting to your operation, can bring in recurring revenue that might even last you until the client requests a rebrand.

Developers also have the bonus opportunity to build a product (think a template or app) that they can sell for a source of passive income.

For Marketers:

Social media managers and marketers have a truly awesome opportunity for recurring revenue. The social media needs of a company (if they don’t want to get lost in the crowd, that is) are constantly evolving and in need of tending. By offering a monthly social media marketing package, a marketer can offer that company the security of an expertly maintained social media presence and the added bonus of more time to focus on their business.

Utilize Some Pricing Psychology

Let’s get down to some marketing specifics, shall we? You want to create or reorganize some services that will bring you recurring freelance revenue, and you want to make them appealing to clients, right? This is a fantastic opportunity to take the “three-pronged” approach.

By creating three recurring packages, each increasing in value, you’ll be giving your potential clients the power of choice. Determine what the minimum amount you’re willing to charge is, and make that your bottom tier. Bare bones services at a bare bones price. Next comes your most realistic and ideal choice. Basically, what are the market-standard services and what amount would help you meet your basic needs while snagging a little extra? And, finally, throw in a cadillac option. Perhaps add SEO or a monthly video conference call and progress check-in to the package.

Build a Contract to Match

The main benefit to recurring revenue is consistent financial security… so make sure you actually have that with your clients. This is one of those great times to use a contract template (or even better, hire a lawyer) to build a package-specific contract that meets your needs. Your contract will need to address the indefinite nature of your agreement, and outline termination terms. By including a 30 day written notice of termination clause to your contract, you’ll be giving yourself a 30 day cushion to prepare for a loss of income.

Spiff Up Your Onboarding

Once your packages are chosen and your contracts are built, you’ll want to streamline your onboarding process so that you can focus on the work portion of your agreements, rather than the administrative portions.

By using an eSignature platform, you’ll be able send legally-binding digital contracts to your clients, rather than the typical scanning/snail mail option. You can even take it to the next level by connecting options like Ninja Forms and Zapier to your contract plugin and contact form to turn the very first client inquiry into a chain reaction that results in an estimate and possibly a new client, right then and there.

Freelancing is awesome… even with the stress.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: freelancing can be stressful. (I probably threw in a “for realskies,” but that’s just my style.) If the stress of an insecure and irregular income is causing you to lose sleep, give these methods a try. You might just find yourself selling two or three recurring cadillac options to float you through your months.

You like cadillacs, right?

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