In my first post, regarding the top five things I recommend a freelancer have before they go full-time, I mentioned the need to have at least one repeat client before you go solo. I did not have any repeat clients when I first started my freelance business five years ago. This resulted in my needing to dip into my savings/severance pay WAY too soon due to the ebb and flow of fulfilling one-off projects for non-repeat clients. This also resulted in credit card debt that I am still digging out from under. (Definitely learn from my early mistakes!)
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to catch the attention of a new client via a simple Google search that I now consider to be one of my own ideal clients. Because I love working with non-profits and other Christian ministries I feature them on my web site. This got the attention of a Christian organization based in Illinois called Russian Ministries. The group was looking to replace an existing graphic artist with another who was willing to follow their existing templates on envelopes, monthly appeal letters, reply cards, newsletters and an additional prayer calendar. Because this client was looking for someone reliable to work with on a regular basis I was able to quote them fixed prices, for the items they needed, to fit within their budget.
The first project we worked on was a calendar/prayer booklet for 2013. This particular project was new for them and I
had a little more creative freedom. Russian Ministries was able to provide all text and all but two photos to complete the project which saved them a lot of money – and this was quite a feat considering that the calendar features photos from at least 12 countries that the organization ministers to! My direct contact was very easy to work with, quick to send edits and new photography when necessary, and the project went very smoothly.
After the first successful project began an ongoing relationship repeating/altering this customer’s monthly letter(s), envelopes and reply card(s) — all designed with the template created by their original designer. As a result, it is not as creative as the first project, but the work is fairly easy to do and because it is monthly, it equals income that I can depend on, while my other work as a freelancer may fluctuate from month to month. An added bonus was that this customer livens things up quarterly, by sending out a colorful newsletter instead of the monthly appeal. I have added small touches to the original design for the newsletter, but this too is based primarily off of the client’s existing template. New photos and text changes are sent quarterly by the customer for me to implement.
Beyond being a dependable source of income, this client is wonderful to work with. They were already used to using freelancers for their needs, and they are respectful of my time; sending me projects with reasonable turn-around times and expectations. I also have the added bonus of enjoying being a part of assisting an organization that is doing work I am supportive of. The stories that they share in their letters and newsletters are inspirational and full of their obvious passion for sharing the love of Christ throughout Russia and Eurasia. I hope this past year will be the first of many years to come working with this client.