Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Freelance Beat is a blog exploring the triumphs and challenges that freelance journalists encounter in their early and mid-careers.

Here's Why You Need an Anchor Client

Here's Why You Need an Anchor Client

I’ve been freelancing in various capacities since I graduated from Columbia College Chicago in December 2014. Newly minted with my degree, I began writing pieces for The Chicago Defender and DNAinfo Chicago and went on to write for Crain’s Chicago Business, The Chicago Reader and various local and national publications.

Since then, I’ve been working to build my portfolio into something that I could be proud of. And that portfolio has been super important for me when pitching new outlets. Editors want to know that you’re capable of executing the stories you’re pitching.

Yes, building relationships with editors has been critical to me creating a cool portfolio. But before venturing into full-time freelance work, I made a crucial mistake: I didn’t have an anchor client.

An anchor client is a client for which you provide your services on a regular basis in exchange for enough money to support a majority of your living expenses. Having an anchor client brings stability to your freelance business. It gives you a starting point from which you can scale your business. Most importantly, it relieves some of the financial anxiety that comes with freelancing.

When I started freelancing full-time in 2017, I had clients, but I didn’t have anchor clients to buoy my business along the ebb and flow of freelancing. I spent a lot of time pitching. While aggressively pitching outlets is fine when you’re getting started, obtaining a steady freelance client will allow you to plan your monthly income.

So what kinds of anchor clients can freelancers get? Here are a few ideas.

Write a column.

This may be hard to do when you’re starting out, but it’s an option if you have an expertise in a subject or just really good at giving advice.

Become a contributing writer.

If you can regularly contribute to a magazine or website, that will be beneficial for your portfolio and the publication in need of content.

Become a contributing editor.

This title comes with different duties at different publications. Sometimes a contributing editor really is a person who writes for the publication. However, some contributing editors actually commission writers to craft stories for a publication, but they aren’t staff editors.

Create content marketing materials.

If—and only if— you’d like to write content for brands that you don’t cover as part of your beat, you could create blogs, emails, social media posts or other content marketing materials for companies who don’t know how to communicate their offerings to potential customers. It’s a bit of an adjustment, but it can be a lucrative revenue stream.

Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake. Before jumping into freelancing full-time, make sure you have the support to carry you from month to month. Not ready to freelance full-time? Try taking a part-time job or writing a few pieces a month aside from your full-time job.

What anchor client(s) do you have? Tell me in the comments or email me at

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