How Many Clients Do You Need to Succeed as a Full-Time Freelancer?

If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need clients at all times. But just how many clients do you need to sustain your freelance business?  

Too few clients and you can’t pay your bills. Too many clients and you can’t serve them all properly. And then you’ll lose clients — and a chunk of your reputation. 

According to the State of Digital Report, the average freelancer personally serves 14 clients at any given time. But don’t stop reading here — 14 isn’t a magic, end-all number, especially without context behind it.  

If you’re working on building up your client list and aren’t sure where to stop, this one’s for you. Here’s how you can find the right client balance to be profitable but not overworked. 

What are Your Income Goals? 

To find the ideal client number, it’s easier to work backward starting with your income goals. If you know (roughly) what you want to make, you can then decide how much you need to charge based on how many hours you’re available for work. You will also need to take into account any overhead costs that will eat into your profits. 

Let’s say you want to make $5,000 a month in profit. Your costs for technology, software, and office tools are about $400 a month, so you really need to make $5,400 per month. You work a normal 40-hour week, so you need to make about $1,350 per week, give or take. 

Knowing this, you can compare the services you offer with the time it takes to complete those services to set your rates and take on a reasonable client load. 

Factor In Your Time 

Something that many new freelancers don’t consider upfront is the time it takes to manage each client. The more clients you have, the more time you spend invoicing, having conference calls, finalizing project details, and other little bits of “busy work”.  

All time you spend working should be paid by your client, whether you bill by the hour or by the project. But you still need to budget for it in your schedule. This way, every client gets the time and attention they deserve and you’re not feeling rushed to make deadlines. 

Consider Using Other Freelancers to Scale Your Services 

One of the hardest parts of freelancing is getting clients in the first place. But what happens when you have too many clients wanting to work with you?  

It’s hard to turn down work. And since time is your most precious and most finite resource, at some point you just can’t take on more clients. That’s when you can start to scale your freelancing venture with other freelancers. Subcontract some of your work and take a small cut as your management fee. You’ll be able to serve more clients without sacrificing results or performance, and even make more money in the process.  

Ready to start growing your client list? Get started with Citronworks today!


Nick Brandt

Nick is a keen internet consultant and developer who has focused on the Internet since '95 and been involved in most aspects of the Internet business in positions ranging from web designer, developer, to manager of websites, databases and online projects. He headed the web for, "We Are What We Do, Plastic Ain't My Bag and Industria Web" with Ericsson in Italy. He won the Cisco IBM E-Commerce Award 2000 and E-handels konferensen 2001 (The annual E-commerce conference - Copenhagen). He is currently the co-founder and CTO for & and active in several other online projects.


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