3 Habits to create steady income year-round

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One of the biggest problems any freelancer experiences is unpredictable cashflow. One month brings in a truckload, while the next you are struggling to buy toilet paper.

Budgeting becomes impossible. Life becomes chaotic.

Every time you have a windfall, you’re afraid to treat yourself in fear of not being able to make it through an upcoming dry spell.

Sidenote: Once you're done here, try watching our interview with Chelsea Baldwin on convincing one-off clients to go on monthly retainer. Members of our community at SolidGigs get immediate access. You can learn more or join us here.

But there is hope!

You’ll still experience the normal ups and downs of freelance life, but it’s less likely you’ll run out of work by practicing these 3 good habits.

After over a decade of freelancing, these are the most important habits for my business:

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1: Never stop selling. Ever.

Submit pitches and proposals for new work and clients, even when you’re overloaded.

Every project will come to an end, and unless you have a handful of clients on retainer (learn how to do that here), you need to keep pitching for new clients and more projects from current ones.

It may seem counterintuitive to go after work when you’re too busy, but when things dry up, you don’t want to be wondering how to make this month’s rent.

There’s an art to knowing how much / often to sell. Until you do it continually, you won’t know what’s right for your business.

Selling continually also makes you better at doing it, meaning you won’t have to pitch so much to win work.

If you don’t have time, hire someone to do it for you.

But be careful!

Make sure your new hire understands your business and your schedule, or you’ll be chasing unqualified leads and wasting valuable time.

Unsure about hiring your first employee? Check out these posts:

2: Follow up on proposals / pitches

A high-performing sales rep from BBDO remarked at a freelancing conference that it takes a person approximately 7 “no’s” before they’ll even consider saying yes.

So follow-up 3 to 10 times using whatever method works best for you, even if the prospect doesn’t answer. The amount of times you follow-up depends on how much you want them as a client.

  • If they’re dream clients, ten times unless they tell you otherwise.
  • If it’s a small project you’re not excited about, ditch the third follow-up and only contact them twice.

Here are the most common reasons a pitch gets ignored:

  • they have no need for your services
  • your email gets flagged as junk and they never see it
  • they just had a bad experience with another freelancer
  • they want to hire you but their project is weeks or months away
  • personal issues

Your first pitch may arrive at a bad time, but your third may come at just the right moment and they respond immediately.

Some people fear that constantly following up makes them seem annoying to potential clients. This is a possibility, sure, but more likely, you’ll appear very enthusiastic to work with them. And if you do annoy them, they’ll assuredly let you know.

What’s your “magic number” when it comes to following up with clients? Share it (and why) in the comments!

3: Under promise and over deliver

Provide what you promised and then some.

  • If a customer gives you a Thursday deadline, provide them a proof on Wednesday or earlier, if possible.
  • Do more than what’s asked of you.
  • If you’re not sure what’s appropriate in a situation, ask your client. It’s better to ask what you think is a foolish question than overstep your bounds and jeopardize the relationship.

No matter how great a freelancer you are, there’s always someone waiting to step in when you blow it. So don’t blow it!

Over-delivering ensures you’re at the top of the list when your client has a new project or referral.

Final Thoughts

Do you have a habit that helps you bring in consistent income year-round? Let us know! I’d love to hear it.

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About Sharon McElwee

Sharon McElwee is a copywriter and freelance business coach dedicated to help people get better at making real money doing what they love. Check out her free e-course to earn an extra $1000 in the next 30 days.

Leave a Comment



  1. jasminepowers says:

    It helps me to constantly speak at events. It supports my sales process and keeps me at the top of mind as a thought leader for people who may not be ready, especially if they see me doing promotions of me being here or there.

    • Sharon Pettis McElwee says:

      I do a lot of work in the real estate industry, and they say public speaking really helps them too. Me personally, I hate to speak but thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Good article. I enjoyed the first 2 habits. These are something I can do more of.

  3. Mindy Lepp says:

    I typically use a three strikes then out approach for projects that I don’t think are high probability of closing. For those higher probability, I usually take it case by case and consistently set reminders for myself on my calendar for follow up. Once or twice a yr I’ll go back through potential projects from the previous year that fell through the cracks to see if they might be ready.

  4. I am starting out as a freelancer and these tips will serve me well. Thank you!


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