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OPEN DISCUSSION: Long-term vs. Short-term Design Clients

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Every once and a while here at Millo, we like to turn the editorial tables and let you share your ideas with us. After all, we know that some of the brightest designers/entrepreneurs take advice from us on a weekly basis, so we’re asking you to share your thoughts this time around.We did this a couple times before concerning How to find freelance design clients and Unpaid design internships and it has always been a real success.

Check out the questions below, add your answer(s) to the comments, and in a few more days, we’ll publish some of the best answers to the question (along with credit/links for the author).

  • What are some Pro’s and Con’s of working with Long-term versus Short-term clients?
  • Do you prefer to work with Long-term clients or Short-term? Why?
  • How long is “too long” to be working with a client? How short is “too short”?
  • Plus, add any other insights into the discussion you would like.

Thanks for sharing! We look forward to all your wonderful insights!

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. Personally, I don’t categorise my clients by the long-term and short-term… more like the long-forever-going-on-projects to touch-n-go projects. Of course, long-term clients provide steady income, it it’s not just one project lasting too long but new projects each time throughout the period.

    But I really love short-term clients; touch-n-go clients, I call them. I get a job, finish it in a couple of days, receive payment and move on. That way I get to work on more projects, explore more and get paid on time!!

    • @Cmate,
      Some great thoughts. Although I appreciate the stability of long-term clients, I like the spontaneity of, as you call them, “touch-and-go” clients.

      Have you ever had a “touch-and-go” client surprise you by turning into a long-term client?

      Thanks for sharing!

      • @Preston D Lee,

        Ah yes, I’ve a client or two that turned from touch-n-go to long term touch-n-go. So every time they need a quick job done for a new project, they call me. And because the first project has set the pace, work gets done fast and so does payment. And we become reliable ‘partners’ at work. As a freelancer, speed is everything.

  2. I’ve actually just started making web design a career and I’ve gotten lucky enough to find mostly long term clients. Every couple days or so they’ll have some work for me, which is a plus, also I actually enjoy them as people so it makes it all the better to work with them. I’ve only had good experiences with long term clients so I always shoot for that. When I get a dry spell I go out and find some short term jobs, sometimes I get lucky and they turn into long term clients sometimes they only need one project, but as long as they enjoyed their experience and I get paid, it’s all good with me.

  3. I have had a mix of long-term and short-term clients and I would have to say I prefer having a larger percentage of short-term clients with a few long-term ones thrown in the mix. Generally the work and the payment is a faster turnaround time with short-term clients, which is nice, and then adding a few long-term clients in the mix, you still have work to be done when there are droughts with short-term clients.
    Too long for me depends almost entirely on how needy the client is. If they are keeping me on the phone for over an hour more than once a week and sending me (an average of) 10 emails per day, more than a week is too long to be working with them; but if the client understands that they aren’t my only client and is reasonable with contacting me, I see no reason why a long-term project couldn’t last years. I haven’t really ran into short-term clients that were too short of a time.

    • @Bret Juliano,

      Great sharing! I agree with you. Clients have to understand that they didn’t hire us exclusive for their projects… as long as we deliver on time as promised, they shouldn’t be bothering us too much with calls and emails every hour of the day!


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