How to Get Long-Term Clients on Upwork and Create Lasting Success as a Freelancer

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Are you tired of constantly searching for new clients on Upwork? I know I used to be. Are you ready to turn your freelancing hustle into a steady stream of repeat business? In this guide I’ll cover how to get long-term clients to dramatically improve your freelancing business.

Hey, I’m Elijah, and over the past six years of freelancing on Upwork, I’ve learned some really effective techniques for winning repeat business and largely avoiding the never-ending hunt for new clients. And that’s what I’m gonna share with you today.

Hey, before we continue, if you’re brand new to freelancing, check out my free guide. It has important tips and strategies for anyone just starting out with freelancing. I created it to help you get your mindset right and know the first steps you should take to really set the foundation for a successful freelancing career.

Get your FREE copy of The 5 Steps to Freelancing Success.

Related: Top 5 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Becoming a Freelancer

Why establishing a long-term relationship with clients so important

So why is finding repeat business so important? For starters, it takes a lot of the stress out of freelancing. Instead of constantly searching for new clients, you can just focus on creating high-quality work for the clients you already have. This saves you from having to relearn new clients’ preferences and needs on a weekly basis.

On top of that, repeat business can be super lucrative. It’s lucrative for a couple of reasons. One, instead of spending 30%-50% of your time searching for jobs and new clients, you get to spend your time actually doing work that will bring in cash. All that time job hunting is now used for money-earning activities.

You also have Upwork’s fee. Upwork takes a smaller and smaller cut from your money the more you work for one client. So, up to the first $500 you earn with a client, Upwork will take 20%, which you know is quite a bit. But that’s how it is. Then from $500 up to $10,000 with one client, Upwork will take 10%, which is much better. That’s a fee I can live with.

Upwork Fee Schedule
How much Upwork charges depends on how much you earn with a client.

Then if you go over $10,000 with one client, which I’ve done a few times, Upwork only takes 5%. And for me, that’s just awesome!

Those are just a couple of reasons why it’s really beneficial to work with one long-term client or have a handful of long-term clients.

  • It’s less stressful.
  • You’re going to make more money.
  • It’s just a better lifestyle – not having to hustle and grind every day for new clients.

It’s so much better, trust me!

How to build long-term client relationships

Let’s get into some of the ways that you can gain and keep long-term freelancing clients.

Communicating with your clients on Upwork

First and foremost, communication is key. You have to communicate clearly and make sure you and the client are on the same page with exactly what you’re doing for them, what they expect of you, when the deadlines are, and just the scope of the project.

You don’t want to have details that are murky where you don’t really know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And then the client could come back and be really disappointed. Or, you’re doing the wrong thing altogether… just avoid that.

So, communicating clearly is the first step for me.

Go Above and Beyond for Every Client

The second thing is to go above and beyond for every client. And what I mean is, don’t just do the bare minimum. Nope. If that’s what they expect of you and you deliver the bare minimum. You know, you’re still delivering what they ask for, but man, you want to really impress a client and you want them to want you around long term.

  • Impress them.
  • Go above and beyond.
  • Exceed their expectations.

This could involve something as simple as communicating very clearly. It could mean doing some extra work, just to make your work stand out and be really high-quality.

It can also be giving some advice. Let’s say you have experience doing something with other clients. You’ve learned a system that works really well. And now you are with a new client and they don’t quite have it all together, or there’s room for improvements.

Suggest ways that they can improve the process or improve some small part of their business and make their life easier. It may help them achieve success faster and easier. That’s going above and beyond.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your job is to make a logo for them. Well, what if you make a few variations of that logo and you provide that to them for free?

Or if you’re writing an article for a client, why not come up with related article ideas that might fit into their content strategy? Maybe they hadn’t thought of those yet.

You’re adding value to the client and you’re standing above and beyond the competition.

The more that you can stand out from the crowd, the more people will want to work with you long-term.

Build long-term client relationships by showing that you care

Show your clients that you care about their business and their success. And again, this could be as simple as following up after a project to check in and make sure everything is okay. Is there anything that can be fixed or improved upon?

Handle feedback and revisions maturely

Be open to suggestions and criticism. Don’t just shut down and hide from a client or take the feedback super personally. No, not every job you do for every client is gonna be exactly on point with what they need or what they were thinking. Sometimes it goes perfectly. You just keep pumping out the perfect material and that’s the best. But it’s very normal to have something needing to be corrected, need to be changed, need to be tweaked. That’s just how it works, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of taking it personally, jump up and be like, “Let’s get this done. Let’s make it better.”

Build a strong relationship with every client as much as you can

A big part of establishing long-term client relationships on Upwork comes down to trust.

Do you follow through on what you say?

Do you do it when you say you’re going to do it by?

It doesn’t hurt to get to know your clients a little bit on a personal level. Have a rapport with them. Make some small talk. We’re all humans here, you know! Be friendly and personable and have some rapport. That’s going to make them like you and trust you more and want to continue working with you.

Be responsive to your freelancing clients

Be responsive if they message you. Try and get back to them as soon as you can. I do believe in not working 24/7 but get back to them the next morning. Make it a priority to respond to every client. If there’s an issue, just let them know you’re gonna get on it as soon as you can, maybe later today or the next day. Communication and being responsive really goes a long way.

Become essential to your clients’ business

This tip is one of my biggest tips for anyone working for someone else in general. And that is to become essential to that person’s business. This applies to if you’re a freelancer, if you have a job, or if you’re a business providing a service to a client. Become essential to that person or to that business, to that client.

How can you become so valuable to them that they just couldn’t imagine, you know, losing you?

They don’t want to lose you. They want to keep working with you because you’re doing a damn good job. You’re over-delivering and you’re doing it on time. You’re helping them achieve success in their business.

Become like that important cog. You know, if it went missing, they just wouldn’t function as well. That’s what you need to strive for. Just really show up as someone who wants them to succeed.

You’re going to be that much more valuable to them. You’re helping them succeed in their business! Like how awesome is that? That’s the attitude to show up with.

Become an expert in your field

Be an expert in your field, even if you’re not an expert now, work on becoming more and more of an expert.

  • Keep learning
  • Keep studying
  • Keep improving

You can take paid courses and you can learn for free online. Practice. Work on your own projects. Keep leveling up your own skills. That’s gonna help you do a better job with each client that you have.

Keep up to date with industry trends

Keep up to date with like changes – like what’s happening right now with AI. There are so many industries that are gonna be completely changed. It’s already happening right now with AI. If you’re falling behind and not using AI, but the rest of your industry is quickly adopting it, that’s not good.

AI Freelancing Tools Graphic

For one, it could just mean that you’ll take longer to finish a task. You could be getting your work done much faster. Now, I’m not saying use AI to cheat and have it write a complete blog post without even making any changes. I’m not talking about that. I’m just saying that AI will enable many different types of work to be done so much faster and better.

Be flexible and accommodating

If you don’t normally do something a particular way, but the client really wants it done like that, what should you do? If having that client and having their payment on a regular basis is worth it for you, do it their way! It’s up to you, however, to decide if it is worth it for you or not.

Be comfortable with pricing and negotiation

If you’re not charging what you’re worth, you’re not going to be in this for a long time. Or you may have to work, like, 80 hours a week at a low rate in order to pay your bills. That would suck. You could become resentful. You could resent taking on the client and agreeing to work for that low of a rate. So you start submitting really crappy, half-assed work. Then the client ends up not very happy at all. Maybe you get a bad review. It’s just not a good way to run your business.

Ultimately, you’re running your own business. Even if you’re just an independent contractor or a freelancer. I want to run a business where I’m getting paid well and delivering an amazing product or service that helps someone else achieve their dreams. Where everyone is happy working together.

Don’t you want to run your business like that? It’s so much better than doing crappy work and hating it, and not getting paid enough. You can get sucked into that on Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, or whatever freelancing platform or marketplace. If you take low-paying jobs, yeah, you may end up hating it and doing a crappy job and just trying to rush out the projects as fast as possible.

Maybe you can do that temporarily while you figure out how to actually run your business – you know, to bridge the gap until you’re doing something better.

Wrapping up

Well, there you have it! Those are some of my top tips for landing and keeping long-term freelancing clients on Upwork. If you follow these tips, you should be able to successfully do the same in your own freelancing business.

This will help you build relationships and have a steady flow of work coming in regularly. If you enjoyed this article, please be sure to follow my social channels. It will let me know that this helped you and that I should keep creating more content like this.

And if you’re brand new to freelancing, be sure to check out my free guide, which is linked below. It has tips and strategies for anyone who’s just starting out, and I think it will really help you.

Get your FREE copy of The 5 Steps to Freelancing Success.

Thanks for reading and best wishes on your freelancing journey!

Elijah Etc.

About the author

Elijah Charbonneau is a copywriter, content creator, and email marketer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. When not working on this website, he enjoys making art, traveling, and trying new foods. Follow his journey at