I’m happy to be back after a crazy few weeks!
Have you ever had this happen? You get so much work you’re run ragged for literally weeks without a day off. Then you end up completely burnt out and it takes days to recharge.
Yep, it’s nice on the one hand — I mean all that work is really great right?
But on the other hand, I sometimes get to the point of “I can’t do this anymore!” Visions of finding that stable paycheck that screams 9-5 begin to fill my head as I look at my computer screen in a daze.
And do you sometimes feel so burnt out, you go for a stretch doing less work? Perhaps putting yourself in the vicious cycle of needing to use all that extra money you earned during your crazy time to pay your way through the zombie state that follows?
Unless, of course, you have money set aside. And that is what I want. I want to earn more and have a nice cushion set aside (I can’t be the only one with out a cushion, right?). It’s time to up my game. So, I’ve decided I’m going for the big fish now.
The majority of my freelance career I have worked for individuals and maybe very small internet businesses. It’s been wonderful and steady work. In fact, I’ve never been without work — but sometimes it’s exhausting work. Now that I am moving into the big leagues, I am learning it is a very different beast in many ways. That being said, here are the pluses and minuses of working with bigger clients.
Let’s face it — the bigger the company, the bigger their budgets and the more money they have to pay their freelancers. This is the biggest draw of working for larger companies. I mean, it can be significantly MORE money. Whereas an individual growing their online business might be able to pay 7 cents per word or $20/hr, a large company might be able to pay 30 cents per word or $100/hr. I know which one I’d choose.
Other pluses to working with larger clients include:
- Larger amounts of money in lump sums, particularly if you ask for an upfront deposit and milestone payments
- Working on bigger, perhaps more fascinating projects
- The potential to work with a team of people
- The potential for more big projects and better referrals
- The potential to have more people see your work
- Being able to name the big company as a client on your website and social media presence, which gives you more prestige
Like with anything else in life, there are drawbacks to working with a larger client. Perhaps the worst of these is it generally takes longer to get paid. They often have a 30-day to 60-day net payment period, which means you get paid 30 or 60 days after the date of your invoice.
So yes, you are making more money, but you have to wait longer to get it. In contrast, when you work for individuals and small companies, they can generally pay out an invoice immediately. Aside from this, other minuses to working with large companies include:
- Greater difficulty for them to pay you via PayPal or via another convenient method, so unless you take credit cards, you will have to wait for a check to arrive in the mail
- Being less likely to work directly with the person in charge or the person for whom the work is for and more likely to be working with a go-between
- Taking longer for communication to happen, to get feedback, have questions answered, and get approvals
- Potentially greater difficulty negotiating an upfront deposit if they use a 30-day net pay or similar
- Greater risk that you will have to sign an NDA, meaning you can’t put your work for the client in your portfolio
Overall, if the pay is good enough, I can live with the drawbacks. And if you are working for multiple clients each month that use an X-day net pay setup, you will get into a rhythm of always having invoices paid out and money coming in.
One of my long-time clients has shifted to a 30-day net pay system. While I generally only work for them once or twice a year, this time around it means I am working this month and not getting paid until January — they won’t do deposits, which I accept since they have been a client for a long time. At least they can pay via PayPal, but since I am just starting out with these bigger clients, I don’t have invoices being paid out for clients I worked for last month. That can make things tight.
On the plus side, one of my new clients is a business school within a well-known university. I am writing and designing their annual alumni report, which is the first time I will really get to use my new design skills I have been building. They pay out on a net 35-day schedule, but allowed me to backdate an invoice to get my deposit. On the flip side, I had to wait for a check in the mail.
Right now, I am waiting for the go-ahead to be able to publicly name them as a client, and when I can, it will really help my reputation. And all because I wrote a lead magnet report for the woman who recommended me for this project and her sister, as part of a side venture of theirs.
You really do have to love referrals and word-of-mouth.
And you must never take any project or client for granted, no matter how small they might seem. You never know when they can lead you to something bigger.
So, take some time over the holidays to consider your clients. Maybe you prefer working for smaller companies and individuals. If that’s your game, then go for it! But if you are thinking of scaling up to bigger clients, just be prepared to enter a different world.
That big world can be scary, but it’s totally worth it!
Do you have experience with both small and large clients? we’d all love to hear about it, so please share in the comments section below!