How I Managed to Get a $2,700 Paycheck from a Single Client

By: M.M.

Every freelancer remembers their first high-paying client. It is comparable to a musician landing their first big concert, or an athlete’s first serious competition. Unlike these examples, however, in the world of freelancing; no matter how hard you work towards landing a big client, sometimes the result may come randomly, from the most unexpected source.

This is my story of exactly that; how a low-paying client of almost three years, with whom I have had an on-and-off (and very infrequent) collaboration, helped me earn my first big monthly paycheck as a freelancer – $2,700 (just from one client).

A little bit of background: I have been living abroad since a very young age. I have used this to my advantage in my writing career; reporting on events and experiences from my corner of the planet, and sharing them with the rest of the world.

Shortly after graduating from university, when I found myself attempting to dive deep into the world of freelancing (as job opportunities were hard to come by in my physical location), I spent months putting myself out there, in search of paid writing gigs. I exhausted every resource possible, and became increasingly discouraged by the influx of emails with the word “unfortunately” in them. 

I did, however, have one client that occasionally accepted my pitches, and provided me some easy low-paying tasks now and again. This client is running a travel-website, with a strong focus on SEO and marketing-focused content. These on-and-off tasks did come in handy in some particularly dry months, but did not provide me with an even remotely substantial financial sustenance just on their own.

Despite the client being very responsive and encouraging, they simply did not require much further assistance from me, as there was already a large in-office team of writers handling most tasks. And so, I was averaging at only 1-2 tasks a month.

But with the perfect combination of my naturally stubborn personality, and circumstantial desperation, I kept on nudging the client for more tasks, and sending in my ideas. I always made sure to end emails by letting the client know, that if and when they do have more tasks, I will be readily available.

After months of this, I realized that I am just not needed. As I later found out, however, the borderline invasive amount of e-mails I sent to this client – regardless of the limited acceptance rate – eventually came to my advantage.

Just as 2020 rolled around, and with the country I was living in being one of the first to crumble under the havoc of the Coronavirus (then) epidemic, I found myself again growing worried of the financial hardships that were to come. That is, until one bright morning, when I received an email from that same client that I had almost given up on.

With offices back then not being able to resume work, the client – who coincidentally just planned to expand their services and launch a separate platform – required someone to help cover the workload, due to the now crippled in-office team. The client specifically mentioned in the email, that they have a large pool of freelance contributors on hold to choose from, but I was the first name to pop into their head, for one simple reason. That reason, as you may have guessed, was simply my constant and persistent prodding!

With my interest peaked, I immediately responded, and shortly after came to find that the client was ready to assign between 30-50 (!) writing tasks to me, for the new platform. With one task being between $60 -$80, I’ll let you calculate the potential earnings.

As I imagine anyone reading this would do, I immediately replied with “I can do all of them, and I’ll start now!”

And so began my surreal month-long self-quarantine of staying at home, and tirelessly completing task after task, and filling my Excel task-chart with more checked boxes. In fact, it probably came at the most convenient timing, and I like to pride myself in saying that the peak-month of the Covid-19 outbreak (where I am living) was my highest-earning month thus far.

Why am I sharing this with you?

If there is a single lesson to take away from this experience, is that persistence matters. Constant communication works. Putting yourself out there, without shying out, and without fearing to come-off as annoying, can lead to incredible results eventually, and when you least expect it.

Although this sudden streak of luck was a one-time event with that particular client, I realized that if I apply the same strategy to 20 different clients, I can expect more such streaks. Since learning this, I apply the same demeanor with the rest of my clients, and the results are obvious. Even 10 rejected pitches won’t stop me from sending in a weekly email, because even without being assigned any tasks, at the very least I am inserting myself in their minds. If and when the time comes when it is THEM who desperately need someone, I want to be the first name they think of. The first contact in their inbox.

Sooner or later, every publication, website, blog, or client in general, will find themselves needing that extra hand. Maybe for a new project, or due to a recently reduced staff, or even a global pandemic! There can be a thousand different scenarios where you suddenly may be needed. Put yourself out there, and let them know: you can have it covered!


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