Any good freelancer has surely hear the saying that 80% of your work will come from 20% of your clients. As a young freelancer, I found this saying to be far from true. In the beginning, it was more like 80% of my work came low paying clients I found on job boards and 20% of the time I wanted to shoot them in the face.
At the time, I couldn’t understand how this saying could be true. I rarely ever had repeat clients, let alone ones who would come back time and time again.
Looking back, I’m sure it to do with two things:
1. The quality of my work.
2. The quality of my clients.
Obviously when I started freelancing I wasn’t exactly the best designer. Granted I got better as the days passed, but I was still far from exceptional. This undoubtedly was part of the reason I didn’t get repeat clients. While most of my clients were happy with the end product, it wasn’t anything special enough for them to seek me out the next time they needed work.
The solution to this problem is only one that can happen over time. In order to be able to produce designs of a caliber that cause clients to seek you out, you need practice. Becoming an amazing designer like Elliot Jay Stocks or the guys over at Meta Labs won’t happen over night. Constantly designing and pushing yourself to up your game is the only way you will ever become a sought after designer. As such, it is the main way you will get 80% of your work from 20% of your clients.
Assuming you have had a dozen or so clients in your time as a freelancer, I am sure you have come across a variety of clients. Some of them good, others, not so much. I have learned that the sort of clients that fall into the 20% category are a certain type. Typically, that type are the ones who appreciate good design and are willing to pay for it. These types of clients are rarely found on job boards and classified sites.
So, that begs the question, where are these 20% of clients found? More than likely they are found through word of mouth referrals and through amazing work. As I said before, if you produce amazing work, clients will find you.
I make no claims to be an amazing designer, but I manage to make a decent living at it. Having worked my way up from nothing as most freelancers do, I realize now that the 80/20 rule is very much true. In fact, it is a very amazing thing. You usually end up with the majority of your work coming from those 20% of clients because the two of you get along and work very well together. So not only are having to look less for work, but you are getting to work with people who appreciate your designs and creativity.