Dealing with clients is simple—and it’s not

I am the co-moderator of The Freelance Writers Connection on LinkedIn, and this month we are discussing “Dealing With Clients.” I posted an email to the group about this and am adding some other thoughts here. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Dealing with clients really comes down to three things:

  • Getting clients 
  • Keeping those clients
  • Getting more clients

Everything you do—and don’t do—will affect those three things. There are, of course, many things to consider to keep those three things going.

In her article, 5 Reasons Clients Won’t Work with Freelancers (And How to Fix Them) Raubi Marie Pirelli, owner of Simply Stated Media, outlines some common mistakes and how to avoid them to increase your roster of clients.

So, once you have the work, what then? How do you keep those clients and keep them happy? You need to remember the 80/20 rule. That’s an old adage of business: that 80 percent of your work will likely come from 20 percent of your clients. The odds may not be quite that cut and dried, but you will get a lot of work from repeat clients and new clients referred to you by your satisfied clients. So keep them happy.

Do a little extra  If you are writing an article, offer to source images. This will especially impress editors who may not have an extra budget for photographs, but you may be able to negotiate a little extra if you’re taking the photos. Travel writer and editor James Durston tells you in this article from his new blog, Travel Write Earn  why editors really appreciate you sourcing your own images.

Don’t be a clock watcher  If you quote your client a fee based on your hourly rate, keep track of your time, but don’t count every minute. It may take you an hour and 15 minutes to complete a task. Let them know it took a bit longer, but don’t charge for those extra minutes. Your client will recognize that you are willing to do a bit more, and that will keep them as clients. Happy clients bring you more work.

Stick to your schedule    Complete the project on time or even slightly ahead of deadline. Filing your story or handing in your project on time will keep you top of mind for future projects.

Respect your client’s process  You may not like that it’s “pay on publication” or “pay after 60 days”, but if that’s your client’s process, then you have to accept it. If you can’t, find other clients.

Keep in touch  Keeping in touch with a client, just to say “hi” once in a while, without pitching a specific idea will help keep you in your client’s mind. Arrange a coffee or lunch meeting, (which you offer to pay for) will let you know the client as a person, not just a client, and, more importantly, let them know you as a person, not just a writer/supplier.

There is a lot more than could be said here, but you get the gist. Find your clients, keep them happy, and they’ll keep coming back to you for more work.

What’s your “go to” tactic for getting clients and keeping them happy? Join the conversation and come back next week for dealing with rejection—it happens to the best of us.

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10 thoughts on “Dealing with clients is simple—and it’s not

    1. I’m glad you were able to gain something from this, Lillie. Dealing with clients is our August theme for The Freelance Writers’ Connection on LinkedIn, so I will be posting another couple of articles.

  1. Thank you, Christine, These are helpful pointers for those embarking on a freelance career and great reminders for those have progressed past that initial stage. Implied in several of your tips is the importance of being flexible and knowing when flexibility requires a modified or new scope of work.

    1. Thank you, Carole. You’re absolutely right that being flexible is very important, and also recognizing when the work is going beyond the initial agreement, and when it’s time to renegotiate. I mentioned not being a “clock watcher” and being flexible with your time, but that has its limits. It’s also important that while you need to remain somewhat flexible in accommodating your clients, it’s important that you don’t over-extend yourself or jump too many hoops for them. You may only be dealing with one client, or one client at a time, but you still have to take care of your first client–yourself!
      I appreciate your comments. There will be more articles coming up on dealing with clients, so stay tuned.

    2. My apologies for not replying sooner, Carole. Your comment somehow got buried in my inbox. I appreciate the compliment. You are right that we do need to remain flexible, and knowing when to stand firm with a client is also important–which led to the second article on knowing when to let go.
      I wish you every success in your freelance career.

  2. I’d say you have to add one more category.

    Letting clients go. It’s not just about getting and keeping clients. Sometimes, we take on a client that is not a right fit and we have to know that it’s OK to walk away from a client if you are not enjoying working with/for them. I firmly believe that we should get pleasure from our work and our working relationships, and if that joy factor is not present, complete the project and move on.

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