Today’s post is from Daryn Collier, an online friend of mine. I recently did a “casting call” and asked 30 Days or Less to Freelancing Writing Success (now known as Freelance Writing for Virtual Assistants and included in The #FullyBookedVA System) students if they’d like the opportunity to gain a sample by guest posting on Horkey HandBook. Daryn jumped at the chance and put a lot of work into this post. Thanks for your efforts D!
As a freelance writer, you work hard to build your clientele – blood, sweat and even a few tears have probably been spilled at some point in time.
It only makes sense that once you land a new client, you’ll want to keep them for a long as possible. Sure, there will come a time that you might want to transition to a better paying client or try your hand at a new subject matter. Either way, you’re better off doing that on your own terms and leaving a happy client in your wake.
We always seem to be focused on ways to attract new business. In fact, we’re surrounded by websites, content and services that are all promoting the best way to find new clients. Landing pages, sales funnels leads and more! The thought of all the new business makes you giddier than a 6-year-old with a 5lb bag of candy on Halloween Eve.
But lets assume you’ve landed a few clients already. You want to keep them right? I thought so. That’s why the focus of this post is on how you can go about maximizing retention by keeping your existing clients coming back for more.
Improving client retention is a lot less difficult than attracting new clients and for the most part, the only requirement is a desire to keep them happy. Here are seven things I try to work on in my business on a daily basis that you might find helpful to implement as well.
1. Be a Breath of Fresh Air
No, I’m not referring to personal hygiene, although that’s important too. What I’m referring to is that in the day-to-day running of their business, your client probably has to deal with their fair share of problems and headaches.
The quickest way to become popular in your client’s eyes is by making sure you’re helping to solve their problems, not create them.
2. Deliver the Value You Promised
More than likely, your clients made a decision to work with you because you provide something of value. Specific points of value for a freelance writer might include some of the following:
- A unique pricing structure
- Quick turnaround time
- Unlimited rewrites
- Impeccable research
- Great spelling, grammar and editing
- Lengthy, detailed posts that include lots of relevant links
- A positive, can-do attitude
- A willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done
By understanding the value proposition that motivated your clients to pick you in the first place, you can make sure it’s delivered every.single.time. One of the fastest ways to lose a client is by promising something of value and then failing to deliver.
3. Go The Extra Mile
Under-promise, over-deliver and manage expectations.
I’m a firm believer in delivering more than what is required. Everybody likes positive surprises and going the extra mile for a client can have a huge impact on the longevity of your relationship. It shows that you’re not just concerned about the bottom line and that you take pride in the work you do.
There is one caveat when it comes to over-delivering on client expectations: If you are consistently putting in the extra effort and get the feeling that it’s going unnoticed, I always think it’s a good idea to subtly mention that “hey, I worked extra hard on this for you, I hope it meets your approval.”
The last thing you want is your effort to become the expected norm. That’s how scope creep gets its foot in the door. Once that starts, it’s tough to backtrack. Anytime you get in the habit of doing more work than you’ve agreed to and it goes unnoticed and unappreciated, it won’t be long before resentment starts building and the relationship starts to deteriorate.
4. Consider Value Added Services
When I talk about value-added services, I’m not suggesting you do these things for free – they should be built into your pricing structure.
Value-added services are more about trying to meet your clients’ unique needs by providing as many related services as possible under one roof. Don’t work outside of your scope, but at the same time don’t require them to tie up loose ends. That goes back to our first point about not creating headaches.
- Do you source or provide images with your content?
- Do you include basic HTML or CSS in your formatted posts?
- What about keyword research?
- Do you have a substantial and relevant social following that you’re willing to promote your content to?
- Are you also a photographer who can provide unique images with your content?
These are all ideas that tie into our overall objective of making our clients’ lives a little easier. If you can save them from having to do something themselves, and you’re not only helping them but making yourself more valuable. It’s a win-win scenario because higher value translates into higher rates.
5. Be Reliable and Punctual
The easiest two points you’ll ever score. I’m going to be blunt here; there are very few reasons why you should ever upset a client by being unreliable or late! Yet, it happens all the time.
We all have busy lives and unforeseen problems arise here and there. It’s on us as the freelancer to communicate with our clients and deliver on expectations. When your to-do list starts to get out of control and you know clients are waiting to hear from you, it takes seconds to shoot off a quick email. Let them know that you have not forgotten about them. Communication is golden, silence is deadly.
I think it’s a good idea to set guidelines at the outset of a new relationship. Here are some ideas:
- I will respond to emails within 24 hours Monday-Friday.
- I might reply to email late at night or on the weekend, but typically that is time I reserve for my family.
- I try to never miss a deadline but if I do, here is how I will handle it…
6. Learn New Skills that Benefit Your Clients
We have to look at every day as an opportunity to get better at our craft and to learn new skills. We can use those skills to attract new, higher paying clients and to provide more value to our existing relationships.
If you’re new to freelance writing or you’re looking to up your game, consider Gina’s program, The #FullyBookedVA System. Maybe you’d like to pick up some basic HTML knowledge over at Udemy or become HubSpot Certified. There are countless skills you can add to your toolbox which will help build your business.
One thing I always try to do is keep existing clients informed. Tell them about any new skills I have acquired or services I have added to my repertoire. You never know when it might help to generate a new piece of business.
7. Always Be Improving
I’m a firm believer in continual improvement – in every aspect of life, not just work. If you’re a freelance writer, the landscape is simply too competitive to rest on our laurels.
I had a conversation with a client the other day who works in a very competitive industry and he usually has more work than he can handle. Here’s what he said to me:
Show up, do what you promised to do, take pride in your work and treat people fairly. That alone will put you ahead of 80% of your competitors.”
These are just seven of the ways that I try to bring value to my client relationships in order to have them begging for more. As you’re taking on new clients (or revising your work relationship with current ones), remember to be the solution, not the problem.
Deliver on the value you promised and try to go above and beyond from time-to-time. Always be thinking and consider what other services you can offer your writing clients while being reliable and delivering work on time. Continuing learning new skills to bring into your client relationships and strive for continuous improvement overall. Doing all of these, how can you fail?
What else do you do to set yourself apart from the freelancing crowd?
Daryn Collier is a digital marketer and writer for hire. He is passionate about working with other entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their businesses through inbound marketing. A husband, father and avid CrossFitter, when he’s not working or spending time with his family, he has a love for the barbell and lifting things that are heavy.