Your Clients Are Your Partners, Not Just Your Paychecks
Want some predictability in your work and your income? Then strive to become a reliable and dependable partner to your clients.
When you’re working with a new client, there’s a certain newness to it. The client is testing the waters, and you are testing the waters. You’re both trying to see if it’s a good fit.
Think of it like a first date. Both of you are a little uncomfortable and sometimes it’s awkward. In a sense, you are courting each other. And from the client’s perspective, there is a certain amount of risk associated with working with a new freelancer.
Believe it or not, it’s stressful for the client to find quality, reliable freelancers. For every person who is a good fit, there are just as many (and probably more) who are not. It’s a toss up for a client when working with someone new.
Can you meet deadlines? Are you easy to work with? Can you produce quality deliverables?
Missing the mark on any of these points can taint that new and budding relationship.
As simple as it sounds, many freelancers fall short on one or more of these points. A missed deadline here, a sub-par project there. In a new freelance-client relationship, these little things can add up and sabotage your chance of getting ongoing work.
Sure, I completely recognize that not every project goes as planned. I’ve been there in that uncomfortable place when you know that you haven’t quite met expectations. It sucks.
But over time, you become better at anticipating what the client wants and mitigating a large portion of that uncertainty. By working with the same clients over and over again, you learn to predict what they want, and it becomes much easier to meet their expectations.
Eventually, that newness fades and the relationship just gets easier. They have a greater understanding of your capabilities, and you’re better able to anticipate their needs. You’re more equipped to fully give them the kind of deliverable that they want. In short, you’re more likely to end up with happy clients.
There is tremendous value in being in this sort of predictable relationship — for both you and the client.
For you, the freelancer, the biggest potential value is in steady income flow. In an earlier post, I talked about how having these “sticky” clients also alleviates the need to constantly market your services. This is an added bonus given that most of us don’t really enjoy the process of marketing to cold contacts.
For the client, the value is in receiving predictable and reliable work that is on time, on budget, and on target in terms of content. Period. Exclamation point.
Clients want to work with someone they know, like, and trust.
Just like with most other things in life, a client will go back to someone that they’ve used before. That’s why it’s soooo important to impress them at the start. You want to be their first choice — if not their only choice — when they think about hiring a freelancer the next time a suitable project comes up.
Establishing that “know, like, and trust” factor with your clients is incredibly important. This is what will make them feel comfortable extending new projects to you — even if you haven’t done that type of work before or it’s a new subject area outside of your expertise.
I’ve experienced this first hand. When I started freelancing, my skill set and knowledge of most diseases was really quite limited. But because I built those client relationships up over time, I gained many new projects simply because the client was comfortable with my work and abilities.
Here’s the big takeaway: Be that go-to, dependable freelancer for your clients. Make their job that much easier.
When you eliminate this stress for your client, you become the hero. Seriously, your client doesn’t want to deal with all of the unknowns that come with someone new. Being the go-to person for new projects removes this burden from them.
I mean, would you rather go on 10 first dates with 10 different (and new) people, or go on 10 consecutive dates with the same person (assuming that you like them)? It’s a no brainer.
Personally, I like keeping the same roster of clients all the time. You pretty much know exactly what to expect from them. Plus, you’ve already done the heavy lifting because you don’t have to keep proving your worth, value, or expertise over and over again.
So make your work irresistible to your clients. Be on time, on budget, and on target so that your clients (even if they are new) will come to know, like, and trust your work.
When you create lasting relationships with clients, THEY will come to you for projects. You will no longer be a commodity or a one-and-done hire. YOU become the linchpin for making a project great.
If you struggle with getting clients or keeping clients, check out the third installment of this series. I’ll talk about an eye-opening conversation with a client that really reinforced how I choose to approach my writing projects.
In the meantime, be sure to grab your copy of the free guide, 5 Simple Writing Tweaks to Create Sticky Clients. Your clients will love you for it :)
This article was originally published at writeandprosper.com.