4 Simple Tips For Communicating With Your Freelance Clients
The day has finally come. After weeks, months, years of dedicating your time to building your freelance writing business, sourcing new opportunities, applying for a mishmash of gigs, and pouring your blood sweat and tears into sample writing articles, you now have an impressive list of return clients and paying customers.
Congratulations! You are officially making it in the freelance world as a professional writer.
So, now what? As a freelance writer myself, I have learned first-hand the importance of communication. And I don’t just mean the writing part — that’s a given – I mean the business part. How you communicate — online, in emails, to potential clients, to current clients, to ex-clients — will not only determine the quality of work you receive but also, the success of your business and career as a freelance writer.
A major part of the role of a freelance writer is cultivating relationships, networking, and keeping in touch. To be a freelancer is to be an effective communicator. Whether you’re working with a senior editor, negotiating your rates for a project with a new client, or responding to the CEO of a startup who has had to make the difficult decision to drop your part-time contract, how you interact with your community and respond to these situations will say a lot about who you are as a person, and how you operate as a business.
As your own boss, you must also be your own advocate. Ensure success in your business — follow these 4 simple tips for communicating with your freelance clients.
1. Be Available
The number one communication rule for freelance writers is simple: be available. The easier it is for clients to get ahold of you, the more work you will have.
If you have a business website or online portfolio, make sure your contact information is clearly stated and easy to find. You should include your email, phone number, and perhaps even a contact form.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m going to anyway. Answer your phone. Check your email. Respond at your earliest convenience and never leave someone hanging. Even if you’re sure you don’t want to take the proposed job, or don’t want to work with a particular client, have the courtesy to get back to them in an appropriate amount of time and let them know.
Being available gets increasingly more difficult the more clients you have on your roster, so you may need to come up with a system.
Maybe you need to commit to checking your email three times a day.
Maybe you need to schedule time into your calendar for check-ins and updates.
Maybe you need to setup an auto-responder on your email account to let your clients know their message was received and you’ll get back to them shortly.
A simple rule of thumb when dealing with clients: it’s always better to over-communicate.
For those of you who are just starting out in the freelance writing world and still have full-time jobs, side-gigs, or are moonlighting after work and on weekends, things will be a little tougher for you. But if you’re ever going to make this your full-time career, you will have to find the time to put in the work and stay on top of your inbox.
2. Ask Questions
When I first started out as a freelance writer, I was scared to ask questions. I wanted to come off as professional, experienced, and all-knowing, and I figured the more questions I asked, the more amateur I would seem. Of course, the opposite was true. I made a lot of mistakes that first year. I submitted articles that were returned to me for changes. I lost jobs to writers who had a better understanding of the projects. I missed out on bigger paychecks because I was too shy to ask for what I deserved. All of these err’s could have easily been avoided if I had simply asked more questions.
The truth is, clients, companies, businesses, editors, and the like will love to answer all your Q’s if it means they get a polished draft in return. When you ask questions it shows initiative on your part to your clients. It shows that you truly care about the project and that you want to do a good job of it. It shows professionalism.
3. Keep in Touch
Back to that thing I was saying about over-communicating. Keep in touch with your clients. Keep them updated on their projects. And always touch base with them when it’s been awhile.
When I am working on a big project for a client — say, re-writing web copy for their new website — that is scheduled to take longer than a week, I always check in with them at the end of every week. Usually, it’s just a short email saying hello, and updating them on the progress of their project. By doing this, not only am I keeping my client in the loop, but I’m ensuring them that their website is in safe hands, that I’m on top of things and that they can trust me. This gives them the peace of mind to focus on their business, instead of worrying about where things are at with their project.
Pro-tip: Practice pro-active communication. Don’t force your clients to reach out to you. Reach out to them, first.
It’s also important to remember that even after you’ve finished your work for a client, they are still your client.
I make a habit of checking in with all of my past clients at least every six months, sometimes every quarter. I’ll simply shoot them a personalized email, remind them of what a pleasure it was to work with them and ask them to keep me in mind for any future writing projects they may have coming up. This one small trick has earned me countless jobs with repeat customers and has helped me build healthy relationships within my growing network.
4. Be Kind and Professional
Last but not least, always be kind and professional. A positive attitude goes a long way in this business. It’s important to remember that even in the world of freelance writing, the customer is still always right.
If you make a career of this, you will absolutely encounter editors that you disagree with, clients you don’t see eye-to-eye with, and CEO’s with quirky personalities. Part of your job as a freelance writer is basic customer service. This means giving your clients what they want with a smile on your face.
This rule is harder to follow when you fall-out with a client or lose a job. However, reacting to these more uncomfortable situations with polite professionalism will ensure your reputation remains intact.
When it comes to freelance writing and keeping your clients happy, communication is key. How have you struggled or found success when communicating with freelance clients? Are there any special tips we are missing? Comment below and let us know!