3 Types of freelance clients and what they have to offer your business

3 Types of freelance clients
Understanding the different types of freelance clients and what they have to offer can help ensure you have a consistent flow of cash and an ongoing stream of work.

Hopefully this post helps you as a new or growing freelancer to see the different types of freelance clients, so you can plan on how to structure your client searches and how you’ll balance your workload.

Design firms

Duration: Long-term, Ongoing regular contract
Compensation: High

Landing a contract with a design firm can mean regular, consistent, and well paid work. A lot of design firms these days increase their workload by bringing in outside freelancers.

With this type of work you’ll need to be responsive, reliable, and most often, work within regular business hours (if you aren’t already). The clients you’ll be producing work for are paying thousands, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the design firm, and a large amount of that is to compensate you!

Deadlines will be aggressive, and your communication skills will need to be sharp. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself having phone or Skype calls multiple times a day, every day during business hours with your firm’s team and/or the client.

Landing large contract jobs can be difficult but is not impossible. You can reach out to design firms that you’d like to work with directly, introduce yourself and explain how you can help them, or just be in the right place at the right time.

For me personally, I’m always trying to better my chances in having clients find me. I’ve worked with two design firms as a freelance sub-contractor, and both came to me directly – coincidentally through the use of my Dribbble Pro Account. I’m not saying having a Dribbble account is key, it’s just another way I get my name and work out there in my freelance marketing strategy. Design firms peruse the communities in which they’re looking to hire from, looking for available freelancers that have the type of work that fits their project(s). Better your chances at getting found by putting yourself out there on the sites your clients are most likely to be looking for help on.

Small businesses

Duration: Long-term or Short-term, Ongoing sporadic contracts
Compensation: High–Moderate

Working with a small business is more typical and easier to land for most freelancers. The relationship is personable and can be permanent/ongoing, but not always consistent. Compensation may vary depending on the type of work you do for the client, but there’s a lot of potential to turn these projects into a consistent flow of cash.

Word of mouth is proven to be the best way to land this type of client work, so market your freelance business and turn every project you complete into a referral.

My freelance business strives off of this type of work. Ideally I try to have two moderately sized projects going on at once alongside a few smaller one-offs.


Duration: Short-term
Compensation: Moderate–Low

These are projects that come and go and don’t guarantee any consistent pay – meaning after you complete the task, that’s it. This type of freelance work is quick to accomplish and can even sometimes be done in a single day.

However, you may be able to turn a one-off project into repeat business or into a long-term relationship. Just provide a good service and they’ll be back for more! You can also try upselling on these types of projects; for example if you design a business card, offer print services.

I find myself having more of these type of one-off projects than anything else, and most inquiries don’t even follow-through. That’s something you’ll have to deal with. Most of the time it’s just someone getting an idea of how much their project is going to cost to have done.

Finding a balance in your freelance work

With a mix of these three types of freelance clients, you’ll be earning way more than you would working a regular 9–5 position. However, it takes time to build a consistent stream of client work, and it can be difficult to manage once you get there.

You’ll need to define what works for you, how much you can take on, and what types of projects you work best with.

Over a year ago I rebranded my freelance business, created a new marketing strategy, and narrowed my client services to logo design, t-shirt design, and website design. Doing this helped tremendously in generating client leads. To this day I stick to my marketing plan, and try to turn every completed project into a referral. Everyone’s path is different, so take the time to develop what works best for you and your freelance business.

Question time…

What type of freelance clients do you like to work with most?

How do you like to balance your workload? One large project, a bunch of one-offs, or a mix of it all?

Share in the comment section below! As always, if you have a question about anything freelance, myself and the YFC community is here to help! 🙂