When you do freelance work you already know that to make it in your line of business you must have clients. Of course, you may have only a couple of clients if you do a larger volume of work for each. On the other hand, it’s also possible you juggle lots of clients simultaneously and do a lower volume of work for each. But what if you are new to freelancing? What is the Ideal Number of Freelance Clients?
It’s a good question to ask if you are new to the business, especially if you have concerns about overextending yourself. According State of Digital, the average number of clients any freelancer personally handles is about 14. The article goes on to say that having that many clients may be a few too many to handle at once.
If that’s true, what is the ideal number of freelance clients?
Large Number of Freelance Clients
As I already mentioned above, when you have a larger number of freelance clients you are most likely doing less work for each of them. Unfortunately, doing a smaller volume of work for each client comes with as many disadvantages as advantages.
Less Pay per Client
One disadvantage to having a higher number of clients is that you get paid less from each client. It is possible this could hold you back from reaching your full income potential.
A second disadvantage is that you can overtask yourself. It can be tempting to take on one more client and then just one more and so on. If that happens you may soon find you are barely keeping up with your workload and making rookie mistakes you shouldn’t be making.
The larger the number of clients you have the more paperwork that’s involved. Each client must be invoiced and their payments tracked. Additionally, any non-paying customers must be dealt with. It can be difficult to complete all of the paperwork involved when you have a high number of clients.
There is less risk when you have a larger volume of clients. Let’s say you have around 20 clients. When one client drops your services you still have 19 more paying you to work for them. If finding another client to replace the one you lost takes a while you probably won’t starve in the meantime.
Smaller Workload per Client
Some freelancers are able to take on enough clients to make it in the business by doing only one-off projects. Should you choose to follow suit, the up-side is that it allows you to complete the project and move on to the next client.
Having a larger number of client’s means you get your name out there that many more times. Doing quality work and having a high number of recommendations can help your business to grow. As your business grows, so does your income.
Small Number of Freelance Clients
Doing a larger amount of work for only a few clients is how some freelancers prefer to do business. Again, there are disadvantages as well as advantages to having fewer clients.
Just as there is less risk with a large volume of clients there is obviously more risk with fewer.
For example, if you have only three clients and one decides to stop doing business with you, you could potentially lose one third of your business income. It had better not take long to find a replacement client if that happens because a second dropped client could put your business in jeopardy.
Larger workload per Client
When you have smaller number of clients, you must be doing a larger amount of work for each of them. It’s a disadvantage if even one of them tries to take up massive amounts of your time with tons of emails, texts, and phone calls. Instead, if all of them feel they should be your only client, they may treat you as if you are at their beck and call. Getting them to back off a bit could be difficult.
Higher Pay per Client
Having only a couple of client’s means you most likely get paid a bundle for the work you do. This increases your value as a freelancer. It may also make you more sought after and in higher demand to other clients.
Working for fewer clients means you have less bookwork to do. This is an advantage you may be happy to have if you don’t enjoy the paperwork you must do in your freelance business. Another benefit is that it gives you more time to do the creative, income producing part of your business.
The Bottom Line – The Ideal Number of Freelance Clients?
Because the number of hours in a day is finite, the number of clients you can take on at any given time can only be so large a number. Eventually you must eat, sleep, and have a personal life. Take on too many clients and you can’t keep up. Taking on too few means you won’t make it as a freelancer.
So, what is the ideal number of freelance clients for you? Only you know the amount of risk you are willing to take and what the right answer is for you and your business. Keep in mind the advantages as well as the disadvantages of having a large volume of client’s vs a lower volume when making your decision.