When I started out freelancing full-time, I sought out as many different clients and magazines as I could. I wanted to get the assignment. I wasn’t so focused on getting repeat business. Looking back, I probably should have done more to build stronger relationships with those editors and businesspeople to get repeat business as well.
It’s hard to go for both breath, which I define as the lots of assignments from different publications and businesses, and depth, which I define as multiple assignments with the same business or publication.
The advantage of going for breadth is that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If one magazine ends publication, it won’t cripple your income. The disadvantage is that you are going to have to do a lot more marketing. If you’re like me, you didn’t become a freelance writer to have to market yourself all the time.
The advantage of going for depth is that you create a semi-steady stream of income and , if you’re lucky, the client will come to you with assignments. The disadvantage is that it will hurt financially if the client stops using your services for any reason.
Over the years, I did manage to create depth with some magazines and businesses, but when I look over my list of clients and publications, I see more that I should have been building a relationship with. Now that I have a list of over 110 publications that I’ve had articles in, I try and build more repeat business with my favorites or the ones that pay more. This still allows me to add a few new titles to the master list.
My recommendation for freelancers starting out is to apply the 80/20 rule with 80 percent of your effort being new clients and 20 percent being repeat. Then begin shifting it by about 10 percent each year until in your seventh year of business 80 percent of your work is repeat business.