There’s nothing wrong with short-term, one-off clients.
They pay the bills, and sometimes they offer us some interesting projects we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do.
But short-term clients are also unreliable, at least from a financial standpoint. You can’t bet your mortgage on them, and they probably won’t be around next month when your quarterly taxes are due.
That’s where long-term clients come in.
Long-term freelance writing clients are happy with our services, they have ongoing needs and they keep coming back to us for work.
Essentially, they’re a freelance writer’s “bread and butter.”
Are you tired of bouncing from gig to gig, wondering where your next payment will come from? Want to build more long-term relationships and turn a one-off client into lasting professional relationship?
These tips will help:
1. Give Them Great Service
Your first goal should be to make your freelance writing clients happy. This includes both delivering a great product – one that meets their needs, accomplishes their goals and serves its purpose – as well as giving them dedicated customer service and care throughout the entire process.
This means responding to questions promptly, keeping them in the loop as things change, and meeting any and all deadlines. Similar to how you would expect great service from your waiter, bartender or A/C repairman, your clients want the same from you. Pull out all the stops and make them over-the-moon happy that they chose you.
2. Make Them Feel Important
Clients like to think you are prioritizing their projects. They don’t want to feel like a burden or just another task on your to-do list. They want to know your focus is on them, their needs and their goals, and that you’ll stop at nothing to deliver a great product.
A big part of making a client feel important is in how you communicate. Delayed responses and quick, snippy replies will give off the air that you’re too busy – that you don’t have time to meet their needs.
Respond to customer emails and messages quickly, and take a few extra minutes to type out a full response. If you’re too busy to address the issue at the moment, at least let them know you recognize their need and that you’re working on getting them an answer.
And please, before you do anything else, remove that “Sent from my iPhone” note in your phone’s email client right now. Nothing says “This was sent haphazardly” like those four short words. And check out my video 7 Tips to Communicate with Clients Like a Six-figure Writer for more tips on communication.
3. Throw in Extras
Everyone likes a freebie with their purchase. It makes them feel appreciated, and the entire transaction feels more valuable – more worth the money.
Try throwing in a freebie for each new client you bring on. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but just a little something they could use or need in their line of work.
Here are a few freebies I like to use: with blog posts, find a Creative Commons photo that fits, or make a recommendation as to what art the client should use; for web content, add in complimentary meta tags and title tags at no extra cost; or for social content, offer to retweet it or share it with your followers once it goes live. A little extra effort goes a long way!
4. Show Them Results
This one’s big. If you can show clients just how much impact your work has had, you have a customer for life.
Now getting these results? That’s another issue. If you have access to their website or blog, you may be able to log in and see views, comments and other interactions, but if not, you might need to get creative.
Comb the web and see if content you created has been shared or retweeted anywhere. You can also check search rankings. Has there been a noticeable jump since you started working for the client? Are there certain keywords they rank highly for? Break these down in a graph or chart, and show them just how much of a difference you’ve made for their business.
5. Make Strategic Recommendations
Don’t forget that you’re the pro here.
Your freelance writing clients are coming to you for help, and they value your professional opinion and your experience. If you see a customer doing something improperly, going about something the wrong way or forgetting a crucial step in their content or marketing process, say something.
Based on your experience, make strategic recommendations that can improve your clients’ business and their results. Better yet, offer to execute those strategic recommendations yourself (if you know how). This could lead to another project and more money in your pocket.
6. Be Cooperative
It’s one thing to have the person who hired you on your side, but to have the CEO, president, marketing manager and others within their organization in your corner? That’s even better.
Whenever you have the chance, work cooperatively with others on the team. If someone else is CC’ed on an email, introduce yourself, solicit their opinion and get them involved in the process. The more people who know your work and just how well you do it, the more they will want you to come back for additional tasks in the future.
7. Deliver Early
There are few things more impressive than delivering work ahead of schedule, so if you can turn in your projects a few days before your deadline, do it.
Not only does this make it easier for your client (and the people editing your work, designing it, posting it and packaging it), but it also shows your client that you prioritized them. And like I mentioned before, that’s hugely important when working with long-term clients.
With just a few long-term freelance writing clients, you can be financially set in your career. No more scrounging for quick-fix jobs or wondering where your next paycheck will come from. Long-term clients give you stability and a dependable income you can rely on. And in an ever-fluctuating career like freelance writing, this can be a true game-changer.
Check out my other posts on freelance client management here.