The key to a successful freelance writing career is a steady stream of work. The mystery many of us face, however, is how to ensure that work keeps coming down the pipe.
The secret? You have to figure out how to get repeat work from writing clients instead of letting the relationship fizzle after the invoice is paid.
One approach to this is keeping your clients really happy.
The truth is, pro writers don’t wake up each morning and scramble for new collaborations. They nurture existing relationships so they continue to receive work. A happy client will naturally be inclined to work with you more than once.
And even if a client doesn’t rehire you immediately, they’ll have you top of mind when they need a writer again! It’s a win-win.
While many freelancers focus on being in hustle mode they overlook this important long-term strategy for repeat work. Don’t make that same mistake.
Here are our top 7 tips for getting that reliable repeat work from clients.
At the start of a new project, you’ll likely have questions for the client. Clarifying the project scope, deadline, rates, and revisions policy are essential (and should be in a contract) before you begin.
However, even with a contract in place, it’s normal for some additional questions to pop up as you’re digging into the work.
Do not hold those questions back. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to fully grasp what you’re working on. This may include questions about the target customer, the brand ethos, tone, and other discrepancies.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking questions make you look less authoritative as a writer. In fact, it’s the opposite. Experienced freelancers ask as many questions as they can so they’re equipped with the right info from the beginning of the project.
It took me a while to get the hang of this because I’d previously conditioned myself into thinking asking questions somehow signifies inadequacy.
As my career has progressed, I’ve realized that the smartest people in the room are the ones who are asking the most questions! They’re also the most prepared. They speak up to get the information they need.
Clients also appreciate the chance to share information with you. Your questions will instill more confidence in them. They’ll see you as a writer who takes her work seriously.
Be sure to ask questions before and during a project as needed, so you don’t get stuck before the deadline with missing information.
Communicate clearly & often
This tip sort of builds on the one above.
Apart from asking questions to gain clarity, be sure you don’t go radio silent between signing the contract and delivering work.
Even busy clients appreciate consistent communication over the course of a project. Check in with them to let them know you’re on track to meet their deadline.
A quick email to let them know things are coming along smoothly will set their mind at ease.
It’s all about creating an experience that allows your clients to trust you and enjoy the collaboration.
Wanna know who gets rehired time after time? It’s the freelance writers who make their client’s lives easier and instill a sense of trust.
After you’re paid, follow up for a testimonial. Later, check in with previous clients in a way that’s non-pushy and natural. Let them know when you’re booking clients for a new season or offer them a special return-client rate.
Make it obvious that you’re not just a fly-by-night writer who is going to fall off the face of the earth post-payment.
Before you deliver any work, be sure you thoroughly proofread and edit. It goes without saying, right? But sometimes, after working on something for many hours, we let errors slip through the cracks.
Honestly, it happens to everyone… but you don’t need to fall victim ridiculous errors.
Sometimes the rush of finishing a project can cause you to forget that all-important final step of proofing your work.
I’m not actually a good technical editor, so I try to run my work by an actual editor (usually Krystal—she is a typo sniper) and ensure everything looks polished.
If you don’t want to shell out money for an editor or happen to have a bestie who is really good at proofing, just step away from your desk for a while and come back to it.
You’ll see it with fresh eyes and spot errors you may have missed.
Run it through a spell-checker and install a browser extension like Grammarly to skim for potential screw-ups.
Finally, reading your writing aloud can help you quickly spot awkward phrases, run-on sentences, and other mistakes.
Whatever it takes, make sure you deliver high-quality work.
Deliver work early
Sliding into a deadline with a minute to spare is something I’ve personally done more times than I can count… but it’s not a good habit.
Want a happy client? Deliver work early.
Sending in your work before the deadline is about more than being the teacher’s (or client’s) pet.
Something freelancers often forget to consider is that their point of contact—whether an independent business owner or the head of a marketing department—typically has someone else to answer to.
When you send your work in at the last minute (or heaven forbid, late), you could be making them look bad.
Sure, they may have worked in an additional buffer of a few days to ensure they cover their own bases… but don’t assume this is the case.
Again, it’s all about making the client’s life easier.
Sending work early is a delight. It’s rare to receive something before the deadline. When you do, you solidify yourself as reliable and give the client ample time to review and request revisions.
When all is said and done, early delivery makes everyone look good (as long as you also follow the proofing tip above, of course).
Go the extra mile
Under-promise and over-deliver.
That’s something Seth Godin says frequently, and it’s probably the quickest way to solidify a good reputation as a writer.
Apart from delivering good work on time, which is the bare minimum in a freelance collaboration, what else can you do to thrill your client?
Can you suggest something to the further improve the project? Can you offer keyword research and SEO optimization? Or perhaps, a project management tool to streamline your workflow?
Clients love writers who bring something extra to the table. It shows that you’re invested in their success and that you’re not just there to collect a check.
Get creative and utilize your strengths.
I think these tactics are pretty much common sense, but it can be easy to lose sight of common sense when you’re trying to make the freelance hustle work in your favor.
You’ve probably heard the old business adage that you’ll use 10x more resources seeking out a new customer than selling to existing ones. That’s true here, too.
And hey—I’m living proof that the above tactics can result in repeat work! I know this because I’ve lost potential work by neglecting them.
I’ve also won repeat work and long-term clients by using them once I realized I was leaving money on the table.
At this point, most of my work consists of ongoing work from clients I’ve known for years.
This would never happen if I didn’t take care of those clients in the first place.
Have you tried these (or other) techniques for getting repeat work from writing clients? Drop us a comment below and share your experience!
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