Internet Bandaid   [RSS Feed]

Archive for the ‘contract’ tag

Client Levels – How to get high-end clients

without comments

A question that many freelancers asks is, “how do I move away from low budget clients to high end clients?”  This is a difficult question to answer, but it’s generally along the lines of being good at what you do, being a nice person to work with, being patient and marketing yourself well.  The last point, marketing yourself well, can be a difficult thing for programmers to do.  It normally includes targeting the right audience.

The purpose of this post is to introduce the concept of “client levels” which should help freelance programmers target the right audience.  Here we go

I generally assign a “level” to a client to indicate his profitability for my business.   They are:

Level 0 to 10 – These clients are friends or family members who have no appreciation and/or no understanding of what it is you do.  As such, you volunteer your time to help them.   These client projects are good if you need to assemble a portfolio from scratch.

Level 10 to 20 – These clients are friends or small businesses with a small budget who have no appreciation and/or no understanding of what it is you do.  They pay you anywhere between nothing and less than minimum wage for your work. These client projects are good if you need to assemble a portfolio from scratch and if you need a couple of dollars for Tooney Tuesdays at KFC to ward off starvation.

Level 20 to 30 – These clients are small to medium size “established” businesses that do not appreciate the value of your work.  So although they are capable of paying for your work at market value, it is hard to convince them to actually do so because they compare you to high school students or some IT guys in India.  With enough haggling, these client projects can sustain your business.  Hooray!  You have enough money for a Quarter Pounder Meal at McDonalds!

Level 30 to 40 – These clients are small to medium size established businesses that appreciate the value of your work.  They do not hesitate to pay you the market value for your work because they consider you a valuable resource.  They know that they need your help to “take their business to the next level”, but they lack a clear strategy on how to do it and they are mired by disorganization.  These clients are great if, additional to your advertised primary skill sets, you are able to clarify their business strategies and help them execute it.

Level 40 and up – I haven’t gotten these clients yet, so they are all one amorphous blob.  But I presume they all have clear business strategies, great organization, significant cashflows and a history of great execution.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can expect clients in each level to refer other clients within the same vicinity level.  So for example,  a level 10 client may refer clients between level 5 and level 15.   So if you’re starting with clients at level 0, it may take you 3 years of 24/7 work to obtain level 40 clients.

Written by John Lai

July 15th, 2010 at 4:04 am