The old saying is “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. I suspect that was stated by a copycat who needed to deflect someone’s anger at being imitated.
When I worked for a firm as an I.T. consultant, I used to say that “Contract renewal is the sincerest form of flattery”. The most sincere “Thanks, well done” statement was followed by the question “Can you stay for the next project? We could use you”.
The sales and marketing advice is that it is easier to retain a customer than to create a new one. After all, an existing customer already knows you, your products or services, your style and your capabilities. A new customer may not even know you exist, let alone that you can meet their requirements.
As a freelancer, I still say that “Contract renewal is the sincerest form of flattery”, although that should probably be tweaked to reflect something more like “Repeat business…”. Today I was fortunate enough to have a second project from one client. It has happened before with others; hopefully it will again.
This advice still needs to be made more clear to be truly useful, or “actionable”. That sounds like a “tip” coming on.
TIP for Repeat Business:
Do good work, on time, within budget, with clear up-front and ongoing communication.
Your further suggestions would be welcome here: how should a freelancer work to encourage repeat business?