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4 Proven Ways Successful Freelancers Achieve More Feast and Less Famine The ebb and flow of paying jobs is the torment of working independently, until you learn the tricks of wooing and keeping clients.

By Shakir Akorede Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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We already know that the future of work lies in freelancing. From 34 percent in 2014, freelancers will dominate half of the U.S. workforce by 2027. Truly, this comes with a great deal of appeal. But freelancing is pretty full of odds.

A study by Spera reveals that 57 percent of freelancers face cash flow problem, confirming income instability as the bane of the vast majority. The root cause? Client retention is hard; getting new ones is even harder. But as a freelancer, none of the two challenges is inescapable if you can master the tricks of client retention.

As affirmed by Hubstaff's 2017 survey, long-term and recurring projects are the most profitable work for freelancers. Also in their book, "Leading on the Edge of Chaos: The 10 Critical Elements for Success in Volatile Times" Emmett Murphy and Mark Murphy note that a mere 2 percent increase in customer retention reduces freelancers' costs by 10 percent.

Related: The Surprising Reality Is Freelancers Are Happy and Prospering

Obviously, your life will be a lot easier if you can stay "top of mind" with a handful of clients and prospects. Follow these tips to achieve just that.

1. Master the art of branding.

Anyone can be a freelancer. What makes you different? Why should a client prefer you to the myriad of available alternatives? This is what brings branding to the center of every freelancer needs. Read ahead to learn the best method.

Many freelancers indulge in a serious blunder by chasing spurious media hypes as a means to assert authority. That's phony. Instead, start by getting some online degrees. For instance, you can pursue an online certificate in health care if you don't have a background in that field but wish to write for health publications or work with some clients in that line of profession. That's an ideal way to acquire legitimacy.

Then follows a deep dive into personal branding (get the comprehensive guide here), which is marketing your expertise in an effective way that would position you as the go-to. What are the new ways to solve specific problems in your industry, and how do you handle that? Spread this knowledge through blogging, speaking engagements, podcasts or other forms of outreach. This way, not only existing clients will be retained, more prospects would definitely fall in.

Related: 5 Employment Trends Every HR Should Watch Out For

2. Get personal, and always put your clients first.

Congrats if you offer quality service, but that's just one side of the coin. The ability to get into the heart of your clients is what will keep them coming back for more. Create an appealing working relationship while you prioritize their satisfaction. If you know about the weather in their city, there's no harm talking about it.

What's more, introduce novel ideas that would solve potential problems they've not even thought about -- thus taking their business success to the skies. If you're a UI designer, for example, you can give them the reasons to spice up their website with a nicer user experience (UX) or a new landing page that would take conversion rate to the skies. Point: Don't ever wait for your clients to either discover the problems or solve it on their own. If you do, they might have to check for another fish in the sea.

3. Offer free service (and bonus for referrals) to stimulate loyalty.

Ever thought about why big brands give free service/goods or discounted prices? Think no more. The single biggest reason is to make more profit on the long run. Nothing is free. As a freelancer, this is an essential tactic you must master. There are high chances of drawing clients into an affection trap by offering them a free service for limited days or a discount over some bulks of orders.

On the other hand, offer a certain discount on their next projects with the proviso that they refer a certain amount of clients. Why consider this? Even the most satisfied clients might not think about recommending you to others. So it's in your best interest to trigger them by offering an incentive to do so.

You can use the same tactic to make them recommend you even to a larger audience on social media or live events. Chances are they'll bite the offer, and in no time, you've already garnered tons of new clients, which, of course, means more income.

Related: How 'Unconventional' Workers Can Be the Answer to Your Company Culture Woes

4. Give space for enough review, but stick to expertise.

Make no mistake, not all clients know exactly what they want or make the perfect choice. A lot of others can provide maximum insights that would ease your job. Whichever you're dealing with, it's important you give enough time to make reviews. By doing so, you're placing yourself at a safer side and giving them the reason to rate you high in terms of meticulousness and professionalism.

Finally, however, always remember you're preferred for a reason: expertise. So give advice, and work based on that point, without any compromise. This will boost sustained interest and trust.

Shakir Akorede

Founder of 501 Words

Shakir Akorede is a writer, digital entrepreneur and the founder of 501 Words. He's equally a researcher and a young professional in foreign policy.

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