One of the biggest chunks of any freelancers time is spent finding work. Digging out clients from those cold, dark corners of the internet to ensure that you can practice the job that you love and pay the bills. To be able to have a body of regular, lovely clients, that pay on time, don’t try and skype you at 3am and are keen to build a long term relationship is a wonderful thing and can take the pressure off constantly drumming up new business.
Maybe you feel that finding a great client is just luck of the draw but after refining and developing my approach to client relationships I think that we have a lot more impact on client behaviour than we think. Ok so it’s accepted you are going to have that very small percentage of horror stories that you have little to no control over but most of the time you can mould your client relationship and perhaps pave the way for future success. These are my top 3 tips for creating great clients that will come back time and time again.
Be Polite and Warm
OK, so far, so obvious right? Well in my experience, not entirely. As an occasional freelance client myself I have been struck by the tone and the quality of responses from otherwise really talented freelancers. Always throw in a ‘Good Morning’, ‘How are you?’, ‘How was your weekend?’ into your communication. Just because it isn’t a social email doesn’t mean it can’t show a little human warmth. This is how you build a relationship that’s more than just service provider and client. If you know your clients been on vacation – ask them how it was. Small things make the interaction a better and more valid one for your client. If it feels natural complement their product, website or blog and show that you are interested in what they are looking to achieve. It always seems to be those clients that I build a relationship with that come back over and over – it’s weirdly like dating, but billable!
Throw Ideas into the Mix
As a new freelancer I was always nervous about making suggestions to clients, now I see it as a key part of my role. Suggest ways to improve or expand upon the current project or ways to adapt it for another part of their business. What this often leads to is you creating more work for yourself and again shows the client you’re truly engaged in this process. I had a client who I was writing sales copy for who had a genuinely amazing product but I noticed her social media presence was none existent. I made a couple of suggestions on how she could improve her online presence and this equalled another months work for me, a win-win for everyone involved.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
This is an oldie but such a goodie for creating happy clients. Always provide a deadline date the day after you anticipate delivery or work to the day prior to the deadline where possible. This is always a wonderful surprise for clients and tends to generate really positive feedback. Plus, you avoid any sense of them having to wait on deadline day for your email to pop up therefore reducing their stress levels. If you can add something into the project which is low effort for you but provides them with an unexpected extra this also creates the warm fuzzies. Of course there is a fine balance between selling yourself short and over delivering, if you can find that balance though it’s sure to pay dividends in future work.
What are your tips for creating great clients?