After dedicating hard work to completing assignments, applying for new freelance jobs and making phone calls you have a list of interested clients. The skill of finding clients is easy but building relationships to establish an assignment that will last for the entirety of your career requires work and dedication.
Now, what do you do? How do you effectively communicate? As a freelance writer, I have learned the importance of customer service. It is essential to be able to speak to the CEO of an organization or the Vice President of Marketing to develop a relationship for long-term work.
As a freelancer, you are your own boss, but the person that manages and offers feedback is the client. A client needs to be respected and open communication is needed to successfully fulfill a project. As a business owner, it is important to be able to present ideas effectively because it is common for companies to request webinar meetings when selecting a freelancer.
The freelancers that rise to the top are assertive, friendly, enthusiastic and passionate about their work. Before applying to freelance websites for work, here are helpful tips to ensure success in your freelance writing business.
1. Be Prompt in Answering Emails and Phone Calls
If you have a full-time job and are moonlighting as a freelancer, in the evening and on the weekends, a handheld device connected to business emails. At the same time, remember to set business hours because responding to clients late at night can give an impression you work 12 hours a day.
It can happen to anyone but merely forgetting to respond to an Editors question or a request from a client can turn into the end of a relationship with them. Clients want to know that you are available when important changes come up.
As a best practice, you should respond to clients within 24 hours of their email or phone call. The truth is companies want to feel as if they have your undivided attention.
2. Be Respectful when Discussing Invoice Inquiries
It is common for a client to forget to pay a freelancer. One of the best ways to ask when an invoice will be paid is to send a reminder before communicating accusations.
An efficient way to agree on payment terms is to ask a company to sign a freelance writing contract before starting the work. An agreement will outline the following terms of payment:
- Late Fees
- Turnaround time for payment of work is completed
- Insufficient funds fees for checks
- Method of payment (i.e., PayPal, Cheque, FreshBooks)
You can avoid a conflict by including work, assignment and payment terms in a contract. It will be helpful for your records and if a client has a question, you can refer them to the contract for information.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
At the beginning of a freelance career, most people make the mistake of trying to appear like a seasoned professional by figuring out difficult parts of an assignment on their own.
The truth is, companies love it when freelancers ask questions because it can save time in you adding edits to completed work.
Asking questions can include negotiating payment terms after 3 – 6 months of successful work. A company that values your hard work and can afford to pay more will be willing to work with you when an increase in rates is requested.
4. Being Honest
When you land a new assignment, and the client asks if you have a flexible schedule and you work a full-time job, it is better, to be honest. There are hundreds of opportunities online that offer a flexible work schedule to complete assignments before the due date.
At times, saying ‘no’ to an opportunity is best because of your skill set. For example, if a client wants you to write about cloud technology and your niche is travel blogging, communicate that you are not an expert on this subject. There is a chance the client will hire you and provide helpful information to complete the assignment.
If you are overwhelmed with work and need an additional week to complete an assignment. It is better to be transparent about your schedule than be late for the assignment.
A golden rule in freelancing is clients respect professionals that they can trust. Trust is built on honesty and as a result, loyal clients will be your advantage over freelancers that are unable to commit t their word.
5. Be Kind and Professional
A positive attitude in this business goes a long way. A few examples of being kind as a freelancer surprises a client by sending a thank you card in the mail for their business. Send personalized emails on holiday (i.e., Easter, Christmas, New Years) to show appreciation. If you send out cold emails to companies to promote your business, use personalization and avoid sending generic messages.
Think of the client as being your manager or supervisor. The same way you speak with a colleague at work is the best way to show personality and respect when communicating with new and existing clients.
The mindset to have is to treat clients the way you want to be treated. Clients are more likely to pay you on time and provide more work to freelancers that treat them like a colleague and not a number.
6. Referral Discounts
An incentive for clients to maintain business with you is to offer a referral program. A percentage can be the commission to clients that refer you to their competitors or other company for your services. You can send the referral program details in the form of an email campaign or a blog describing the requirements.
Imagine the increase in business you can earn with clients that can attest to the benefits of working with you to their contacts.
Referral discount email campaigns can be sent to family and friends. It is possible that they will forward your email to their circle of friends.
7. Phone Calls are Personal
If you have the time to pick up the phone and speak with a client about an assignment, it is a good way for them to remember you for upcoming work.
We live in a world that prefers social media, text messages and sending emails to communicate. However, a warm welcome from you asking a client how their weekend is, or a Happy Birthday can potentially create a lasting business relationship.
The truth about the freelance lifestyle is 65 percent of your time is spent communicating with clients and marketing the business. The rest of the day will be completing assignments. It means customer service is a high priority because it can help you maintain clients for a lifetime.
You want to be in a position in your career that companies will refer you to other organizations because it is easy to work with you. Your personal branding is business branding from the information on your website, social media profiles, email campaigns and the way you represent yourself.
The next time you are about to send an email, ask yourself if you will be proud if a person were to send the same email to you to request your services.