How to turn a one-off project into ongoing work

Ongoing client work is a freelancer’s dream.

Let’s face it, there’s no worse feeling than when you wrap up a project with a new client only to realize you have nothing new lined up. 

But instead of hunting for new projects and clients as soon as one ends, one of the best ways to build a sustainable freelance business is by securing ongoing work. With recurring work from your clients, you don’t have to worry about what you’ll be working on next and you’ll gain more financial stability. A win-win.

If this sounds like an ideal situation to you, here’s how to turn a one-off client project into ongoing work.

Invest in the relationship

People like working with people. If you want to land recurring work with a client, sometimes the best move is the simplest — be enjoyable to work with. Show your client you care and put effort into the relationship from the start.

It’s easy to treat a freelance project like a business transaction by simply doing the work, sending an invoice, and calling it a day. But if you want to turn your first project into a long-term relationship, then you need to shift your mindset from transactional to nurturing.

Learn about their business, ask plenty of questions during the discovery call, and take the time to truly understand their offering. If you show genuine interest in their business from start to finish, and are excited about how you can help, that care will go a long way in forming a strong client relationship.

Position yourself as an expert

It’s easy for freelancers — especially when you’re just getting started — to follow along with what the client says and wants rather than being the expert in the relationship. And though it does take time to confidently communicate your process, pricing, and value, positioning yourself as an expert is essential if you want to turn a one-off project into ongoing work.

Lead the initial conversations, make confident recommendations, and take ownership over deliverables and processes to show the client the value you can provide on an ongoing basis.

Produce your best work

It should go without saying, but to land more work with a client, you have to impress them with the first project. Even if your ultimate goal is to turn your first project with a client into ongoing work, you have to deliver your best work *before* you can get there. 

The last thing you want is to be so focused on the end goal — ongoing work — that you lose track of the initial project and aren’t able to produce your best work. 

But if you put your effort into delivering an amazing first project, there’s a good chance your client will want to find a way to continue working with you.

Recommend supporting work

One of the best ways to secure ongoing work with a client? Ask for it. 

As the initial project begins to wrap up, the key to continuing the relationship is to make a recommendation for something that will complement the work you just did or will help the client on an ongoing basis.

Let’s say your first project was to conduct an SEO audit for the client’s website. When you deliver your report, you would likely recommend ways for the client to improve their site’s SEO like fixing technical elements, regularly updating web pages, or creating blog content to improve search rankings. Ideally, you also offer at least one of these services and can propose another scope of work that supports the project you just completed and will be beneficial for the client.

Follow up about results

If you already wrapped up the project and said your goodbyes, don’t worry — you still have another chance to secure additional work with the client. 

Send a follow up email a month or two after the project has been completed to check in on the work you did and see if there’s anything else you can help with.

Ask them how their new website is performing, what the response has been to their new branding, etc. This thoughtful follow up will show the client that you’re genuinely interested in their success and, as a bonus, will keep you top of mind for more work.

Ready to grow your business?