If you’re a freelance designer or agency owner, there are essentially two basic ways that you can increase your revenue: 1) land more clients, or 2) make more money from each client.
Earning more from your average client may be a lot more realistic and achievable than you think. There are a number of ways that you can go about doing this, and it’s not about overcharging your clients, it’s about bringing more value to the table.
When it comes to increasing revenue, earning more from each client is usually easier to achieve than landing more clients. You won’t need more leads. You won’t need to increase your conversion rate for turning leads into paying clients. And you won’t need to manage more clients.
Here are 9 practical ways that you can increase the amount that you make from the average client.
1. Increase Your Prices
Probably the most straightforward way to increase the value of your clients is to increase your rates. Of course, increasing prices can impact how many clients you’re able to land or the existing clients that you retain, however, you may choose to keep prices the same for your existing clients and only raise your rates going forward for new clients.
A rate increase is something that most designers dread, but it’s an inevitable part of business. In fact, many freelancers are seriously underpricing their services and a rate increase may be needed just to get prices where they should be.
Keep in mind that the value of the service you provide is more important than whether or not your price is higher than it used to be. If clients get enough value from your services, the rate increase is justified and it shouldn’t cost you clients.
Of course, that’s not to say that everyone should increase rates immediately. Take an honest look at the quality of the services that you provide and see if it matches up to the price that you’re charging. If an increase is justified, try quoting new projects at a higher rate and see what happens. If a rate increase isn’t justified yet, take a look at your services to see where you could improve in a way that would justify a rate increase.
Action Step: Take some time to re-evaluate your prices. Are you overcharging, undercharging, or are your prices just right? You probably won’t know for sure until you try changing your prices, so develop your own ideas on your pricing and then experiment by adjusting the price with your next few quotes. If you increase your prices and you’re still able to land clients at the same pace, chances are your rates were too low before.
2. Offer Related Services
What services do you currently offer to your clients? Some web designers only offer web design/development services and others offer a wider variety of services.
If you want to increase the amount of money that you’re able to make from each client, consider offering some additional services. Your clients may be happy to hire you for more, rather than finding and hiring someone else to do other things.
There are countless possibilities, but some related services that you may want to consider would include things like:
- Logo design
- Design of marketing materials (business cards, brochures, flyers, etc.)
- Advertising design
- Social media marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Ad management (Facebook ads, Google AdWords)
If you do offer related services, be sure that your clients know about everything that you’re able to do for them.
Action Step: Think about the different services that you could offer, and also think about the different services that your clients might need. If there is some overlap, consider offering these services as a way to meet your clients’ needs and to increase your income. Update your website to include information about the new services that you’re offering.
3. Outsource Related Services
Maybe you like the idea of offering related services, but you don’t have the time to do it yourself or you feel like it will take away from your focus on web design. If that’s the case, another option is to outsource the work.
Some related services could be easily outsourced to freelancers or agencies. You may choose to let clients know that you are not the one performing the work, or you may prefer a white-label approach that makes your operation look a little bigger.
Action Step: Think about the services that your clients need and see if there is anything that you could easily outsource. Maybe you already know a reliable freelancer that offers the same services and you could hire him/her to do work for your clients. If you don’t have anyone in mind, identify some services that you think might be ideal for outsourcing (like managing social media profiles) and then take some time to look for someone who could do the work for you.
4. Create Packages
One of the benefits of offering a number of different services is the fact that you can create packages that may convince clients to hire you for more work. For example, instead of simply offering several different services, you could create a package that includes a website design, logo design, and design of some specific marketing materials.
You could also create other packages that add some little things like the design of social media images. This may not add a lot of time needed to complete the project, but can add some significant value to clients and make your package worth more to them.
Action Step: Based on the additional services that you’re offering (either doing the work yourself or outsourcing), create some packages that bundle multiple services together and begin offering the packages to your clients.
5. Offer Maintenance Packages
When it comes to increasing the value of your clients, you can try to increase the amount that you’re able to charge (which has been the focus of the previous points), or you could try to turn a one-time client into a repeat client.
Most of your web design clients will need some sort of maintenance for their website. Even if the site is using a CMS like WordPress that allows them to do most things on their own, many clients will still have some issues that need to be addressed, or they may not have time to do much of the maintenance on their own.
This presents a great opportunity for a maintenance package that would involve you providing ongoing services every month. The details of the maintenance package can vary, but some designers and agencies charge a flat monthly retainer fee, which entitles the client to a certain number of hours’ worth of work throughout the month. Whenever the client needs assistance, they can reach out with a request to get help.
Maintenance packages can be great for clients because they can get issues taken care of quickly and easily, they can keep their site up-to-date and secure, and the packages are also ideal for designers who are looking to boost revenue.
If you’re most of your new web design clients into on-going clients, you’ll have a huge impact on the bottom line. And best of all, it also adds some predictability and stability to your income. You’ll know how much money you can expect to make each month based on the client base that you have for regular, recurring billing.
Action Step: Put together the details of a maintenance package that you could offer, including things like the number of hours of work per month that clients will be entitled to, the scope of work that will be covered through the maintenance package, the price that you’ll charge, and how clients will go about requesting work to be done. Once you have the details of the package, start offering it to current and past clients.
6. Check-In With Past Clients
Although the goal of offering maintenance packages is to keep as many of your clients as long as possible, not every client will choose to purchase a maintenance package. However, those clients are also likely to need some sort of work in the future. Maybe they need to have some minor updates to their site, a full re-design, or some other related services that you offer.
Make the effort to reach out to your past clients every now and then to see if there is something that you could help them with. Many clients will not act right away and hire someone as soon as they need some work done, so there is a decent chance that when you reach out to that past client, they’re already aware of something they need.
Take some time to go back through your records of past clients now. Reach out to those that you haven’t been in communication with in a while. If you’re offering any new services, be sure to mention everything that you can help them with.
Staying in touch with past clients is a habit that you’ll want to develop. You may want to use a customer relationship management (CRM) program to make it easier to track your contacts and the times that you reach out.
Action Step: Take some time to go back through your records from past clients and reach out to anyone who you haven’t been in contact with recently. Ask them how their business is doing and see if there is anything that you can help them with. If you’re offering new services, be sure to mention all of the ways that you can help them so they are aware of what you’re offering. Set up a process to reach out to past clients periodically, such as every six months.
7. Offer a Referral Bonus
Your clients can be valuable to you not only for the money that they pay you, but also for helping you to land other clients. Many freelancers and agencies offer some sort of referral bonus to encourage clients to spread the word. Decide on some terms for your own referral bonus and let your clients know that they can earn some money by referring their friends. You might be surprised how much impact this can have.
Offering a cash bonus isn’t the only option. You could choose to offer a gift card or some other gift. Another option that you may want to consider is to offer a discount on a future service in exchange for the referral. For example, if client A refers you to client B, client A could qualify for a 20% discount on a future service. Or, you could offer a specific service for free (like a free site SEO audit). A discount can be a nice option because it increases the chance that the referring client will come back for more work from you, since they’ll be getting the discount. This, obviously, helps to improve client retention and turn one-time clients into loyal fans of your business.
Action Step: Set up the details of your referral program. Decide how much you would be willing to pay for a referral, what services would qualify to earn the reward, and how clients should go about recommending you to their friends. Once the details are set, let your current and past clients know about the referral bonus.
8. Use Referral Partners and Affiliate Programs
Maybe you’re not able to offer related services and you don’t want to outsource the work to someone else. Another option would be to partner with other service providers and refer your clients to them in exchange for a referral fee.
For example, when you’re done with a web design project, you could refer clients to someone who will manage all of their social media marketing and/or paid advertising (like Facebook ads or Google AdWords). Many clients will need those services and it could be very helpful to your clients if you have a quality service provider that you can introduce to them.
You could have partners for several different types of services and maybe you’ll earn an additional referral fee from most of your clients since they are likely to need some other types of services.
Another similar option is to use affiliate programs. As an affiliate, you would earn a commission for products and services that your clients purchase as a result of your referral. As an example, maybe you use and recommend Aweber for email marketing. You could join Aweber’s affiliate program and recommend that your clients use Aweber for their own email lists. If they sign up through your affiliate link, you’ll earn a commission each month as long as they continue to use Aweber.
Email marketing is just one option. There are plenty of other products and services that you could recommend as an affiliate like WordPress plugins, backup solutions, SEO software, social media marketing apps, and much more.
Action Step: Go through your contact list and see what other service providers you know that might be a potential referral partner. Also think about the products and services that might be useful to your clients and see which ones have affiliate programs that you could join.
9. Reseller Web Hosting
Some web designers and agencies choose to offer hosting to their clients. Typically, the designer or agency has a web hosting reseller account, so they are not actually hosting the site or managing the server themselves.
Most hosts offer reseller packages. You can purchase a reseller package and then create your own hosting packages that you offer to clients.
Acting as a hosting reseller does add some extra work, like billing and customer service, but the earning potential can be significant. The power of this monetization method comes from the recurring income that you’ll generate each month when all of your clients make their regular hosting payments. It can create a steady stream of income that’s predictable and continues to increase the value of your clients each and every month.
Earlier, we looked at the possibility of creating maintenance packages that you offer to your clients. You could also combine these two and offer web hosting as a part of your maintenance packages.
Action Step: Sign up for a reseller hosting account and create the details of your own hosting plans that you can offer to clients. If you offer any type of on-going maintenance packages, be sure to offer some packages that include maintenance and hosting.
Putting it Into Practice
This article covers a lot of different ideas but in order for this to have any impact on your business, you’ll need to implement some of the suggestions. It’s not realistic to expect to implement all of these changes at once. Instead, just pick one that seems like it could work well for your business and start there. After you have that one implemented, come back to some of the other ideas and implement them one at a time until you see the results that you’re looking for.