Recently an old work colleague reached out to me – after several years of super high profitability doing niche-specific work, his core client suddenly stopped getting new projects .. and as a result, so did he. After years of not connecting with others, now he was trying to re-engage with his network to get new work – and the very specific skills he acquired didn’t translate to a mass audience.
I’ve seen more than one design business go under because they relied on working with only one major client. When business is good, it’s great – but if that clients suffers, so do you.
Think now: Are all your eggs in one basket?
Step 1. Don’t panic. Get out there.
This is the time to start planning and marketing yourself. Start reaching out to your network – join facebook groups, comment on forums, engage with others on twitter, take classes. I know a lot of us tend to be introverts – but you have to make your presence known in order to be thought of by others!
When I’m asked for referrals, I’ll look to my network of designers first (this includes people I’ve mentored, people I’ve met at conferences and people in the courses I’ve taken online).
Step 2. Diversify your income streams to fight the feast or famine cycle.
So often I hear people say that they want x number of new clients per month. I call this the “churn and burn” … hustle. get client. do project. Then hustle to find a new client and repeat. This thinking is skewed! What else can you offer your core clients to maintain a sustainable income?
- maintenance and upkeep packages
- consulting / marketing
- ongoing graphical support
- social media marketing and scheduling
- other specialized services
In my business, I aim for a blend of:
- core clients (ongoing/larger projects, marketing, strategy and brand work)
- maintenance clients (smaller projects, regular maintenance and upkeep)
- consulting + mentorship
- affiliate relationships
- products – (see my minima guide as an example)
By having a variety of income streams (and clients) I’m insuring that I’m not reliant on one sole source of revenue – and it gives me the flexibility to choose which projects I want to take on.
What are you doing to diversify your income streams and lead generation?