Being a success as a freelance writer isn’t only about being a good writer. It’s about rocking the customer service and being a good communicator. When your clients are happy, they’re less likely to argue over pay increases and more likely to refer you to other potential clients. Here are some tips to help:
5 Rocking Good Business Practices for Freelance Writers
1. Be Flexible:
Good clients are hard to find. I mean, we’ve all had annoying clients and we’ve all had ok clients but model clients are few and far between. Why clients act the way they do is another post for another time, however, it should go without saying that we want our clients to be happy. We especially want our model clients to be happy. This means we have to be a bit flexible.
Being flexible can mean several different things. For instance, we can be flexible with our rates. We don’t want to sell ourselves short but there’s nothing wrong with adjusting our rates to land a desired project or giving a discount on a large project to our good clients.
We can also be flexible with our time now and then by staying up later to talk to an overseas client or meeting a tough deadline. This isn’t to say we should always give in to difficult clients, but being flexible for our good clients is never a bad thing.
2. Say Thank You:
Do you send thank you notes after job interviews? I do. Even if I don’t get the gig I think it’s a good practice. It keeps me on the potential client’s radar as being someone who goes the extra mile.Clients and employers are impressed by good manners and may tuck that thank you away for future reference.
Do you send thank you notes to clients after projects are completed? I do. I thank clients for the opportunity. Again, the good manners stand out. I’m not just someone who takes the money and runs. I thank clients for opportunities and I thank potential clients for their consideration. This is the difference between “save” and “delete”.
3. Follow Up:
Ok. So you finished a project. Now what? Send it in and wait for your check? Well, you could do that. Wouldn’t it be a better practice to send a note to your client to follow up? How did he like the project? Was it to his expectations? Were there any issues? Any tweaks?
Chances are, if there were any changes to be your client would have contacted you, but your following up will win points in your favor. Points that can add up to referrals, recommendations and raises.
4. Don’t Ignore Your Email:
If not tended to regularly email can pile up to become the bane of a writers existence. This can be a mistake if a client or potential client’s email is lost in the shuffle. No one likes to feel ignored. If you’re swamped for time, at least send a “I have received your email. I am not able to respond at the moment, but I will look it over in a couple of hours when I have more time to give it the response it deserves.” This lets the client know you did see his email and will respond, even if it’s not right away.
Clients like freelancers who can work independently, but they also like to feel as if they’re in control – or at least that they know what’s going on. Many freelancers have successful relationships with their clients because they send them a daily or weekly status report. This lets the client know where the freelancer is with the project, if there have been any problems, and if the client needs to send the freelancer more information or tools.
Your client may not respond at all, but receiving periodic updates will offer reassurance that he has selected a mature, responsible freelancer for his task.
It’s all about respect
These things aren’t rocket science, in most cases they’re good manners and good business. It used to be second nature to treat our clients with respect, and make them feel important. Somehow though, we’re losing a little of this.
It’s not enough to land the client, what will you do to keep your client?
Lisa (lablady) says
Another great post. I completely agree and always encourage good manners. I’m often amazed at how many people never say, “please” and “thank you” or hold doors open for you or even help you pick something up you dropped. And, interestingly enough, it differs in each city/state I’ve lived.
I do exactly what you outline: I’m flexible, say and send Thank You notes, definitely follow up, set times during the day to manage emails (very good point), and keep clients up-to-date on progress. Respect and honest communication are key in any relationship and especially so in a business relationship.
Thanks, Lisa. I’m a stickler for manners. I’m bothered by all the rudeness and entitlement out there nowadays. Someone once told me that clients don’t notice bad manners. Maybe that’s true, but they do notice good manners and that’s the difference.
Loved the article, it is applicable not just to freelance writing but to life!
Thanks for the reminders!
I have some growing to do! Thanks for the reminder, Deb! I’m curious…when you send a thank you note — is it always by mail or sometimes by email? If I have a client I’ve only been in contact with via email, is it appropriate to send them a thank you note in the mail? (Ps. I really want to know…I think I’m going to send you this question by email too!).