At the outset of my freelancing career, I would always fall into a dilemma while quoting my price for freelancing jobs. It was difficult because, on the one hand, I didn’t want to lose out on jobs by quoting too high; on the other hand, I would not like to be underpaid. That’s the story many freelancers face during their freelancing careers.
Every freelancer, at some point (but more often at the initial stages) of their career had to be content with low pay. It’s rare to find anyone who starts off a freelancing career with high-paying jobs. That would come much later on after they have already proven their credentials, credibility, and their worth.
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It is important that freelancers learn to give due significance to low-paying jobs. Such jobs have its own place in the professional ladder of success. These low pay jobs act as a platform for achieving greater success.
More importantly, it prepares you to get hold of better jobs. It also teaches you the intricacies of the freelancing trade.
Whether you are a designer or a writer, or any other kind of freelancer, low pay jobs allow you to be more relaxed and work with greater freedom. The fact is, a certain degree of freedom helps in building your expertise.
Remember, low-paying clients, are more tolerant, allowing you to learn while you work. High-paying clients are not so forgiving because you are expected to deliver high-quality results for the price they are paying you.
The perks of lower expectations
I vividly remember when I started out in my freelancing career. I faced difficulties in landing regular jobs, except for one client who would give me regular jobs.
I may or may not receive jobs from other clients, but I will always have my hands full with jobs from this client. She had plenty, and she paid me low sums, but she kept me occupied, and more importantly, she pointed out my mistakes to me.
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I was given to opportunity to rectify them and perfect my craft. And the results were clear. I improved and better offers came pouring in. And that’s when I realized that my low-paying client had been teaching me the intricacies of the trade, even without me asking for it.
High-paying jobs are usually reserved for experts, those who have proven their skills, and have learnt their trade. Those who are now ready to unleash their skills and expertise in highly professional (and sometimes cut-throat) environments.
Evidently, it is never easy to get high paying jobs regularly unless you have been around for a number of years and have established your freelancing reputation and career.
However, once they got a couple of high-paying clients, many freelancers (whom I know personally) start taking things easy. They abandon their old low-paying clients, as they think that they now have the experience and credentials for better clients.
The results became distinct with time. As these freelancers bask in their newfound glory, they will complete their assignments only from high-paying clients and then sit idling for long periods of time, waiting for their next high paying project to drop onto their lap.
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Losing their touch
Since they begin working less and waiting more, they now have fewer opportunities to practice their skills. Some lose their edge and winning traits, and worst of all, the lack of jobs has made them lazy. That is something freelancers should be wary of.
Freelancing is not just about getting projects and earning money, but also about understanding the beauty of freelancing and the discipline you need to have to be in the business. It is also a profession that is networked and based on mutual respect.
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Why stick to low-paying clients?
If the question here is "should freelancers completely get rid of low-paying clients after they get high paying clients" then the answer is definitely no. The fact that not all freelancers are able to get highly paid jobs regularly, is enough reason for them to stick to low-paying clients as well.
Also, the fact remains that there is always a dearth of high-paying jobs. These jobs quickly fall on someone else’s lap as soon as it arrives. Therefore, to strike out low-paying clients from your contact list is an act that is not recommended.
Even if you have started getting high-paying clients, keep working for at least a few low-paying clients. You never know when you could hit a dry spell. Freelancing insecurities may catch up on you and they are very real sources of worry.
Strike a balance
Nonetheless, there is a need for you to strike a balance when selecting which project to take up and which to reject. There is a thin line that separates highly successful freelancers from mediocre ones.
The highly successful ones strategize their career and always make full use of their precious time and every opportunity. They understand that opportunities might dry up soon, and therefore, they build a database of clients and work to satisfy all of them. They know how to deal with crunch times and almost always have their hands full.
Freelancers who have attained average success may fall into the trap of being overconfident. True, they will look to seize high-paying opportunities, but when they get one, they actually believe more of these opportunities are around every other corner, ready to come knocking on the door.
Even if they don’t believe it, they act like it when they start neglecting their previous low-paying clients. These freelancers face may face an acute shortage of work and will probably learn the hard way that it takes time and effort to build a good clientele.
Improving your standings
The success formulas change very fast in a freelancing world. Those who have just entered the practice and only have one or two high-paying clients, should also keep good number of low-paying clients so that they don’t fall short on work.
In the meantime, they should keep improving their reputation and keep working on getting more high-paying clients, which is never easy even for well-established veterans. If you are a very skillful freelancer, with time, you will be able to get better clients.
By the way, never ever spoil your relationship with any of your clients – you never know when times can change, and you might again have to start reaching out to your old clients.
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The story may differ from one freelancer to the next, but for me, low-paying clients were responsible for my progress. And I still feel grateful to them.
Once you have established yourself in the trade, it may not be possible to work for any or all of them in the long term, but it is important for you to acknowledge their contribution nonetheless.