relationship management for freelancers

How to gain return-customers as a freelancer

From my personal experience, there are three things that make a freelancer great. One is technical capabilities: being able to provide the skillset that clients are looking for. Two is general management: staying on top of your projects and finance, etc.

And three is how easy you make your client’s life.

When an employer outsources a task to you, what they are looking for is their operation to be more efficient. They want you, the freelancer, to get the job done with as little hassle or miscommunication as possible. Or, sometimes, clients don’t want communication at all, and you need to be able to just get on with it.

The importance of turning your clients into return-customers is paramount to the longevity of a freelancer.

Let’s get into how you can manage your relationships with your clients.

Keep In Touch

There’s a big difference between hassle & miscommunication and updates. Be proactive in sending them updates on progress. It’s also advisable to let them know if there are any problems or delays. They will feel at ease if you let them know how you plan to work through or around it.

Aside from the information you provide being useful for your clients to know. The proactivity will show them you are a capable professional who keeps on top of management.

Cater Your Approach To Their Priorities

Find out what their interests are, their priorities, their needs. So that you can merge your own deadline/outcome with their desires.

If they need their project done quicker than it would normally take you, you should let them know this. You’ve acknowledged their request but your priority now is to meet their deadline despite this. The clients will see that you have taken into consideration their needs and gone above-and-beyond to meet them.

If their priority is financial targets, make sure you meet that requirement. If it’s brand status, meet that too. Focus your questions and actions so that they coincide with your client’s interests. It goes a long way.

Mirror Their Communication Styles

This is a quick tip I’ve picked up over the years. When it comes to communicating with your client, I would advise mirroring their style. It’ll keep them happy and engaged whilst also making the communication convenient to them. This is what I mean:

Does your client prefer phone calls, text messages, or emails?

Does your client like a bit of friendly small-talk before getting down to business? Or do they prefer to cut straight to the chase?

It goes deeper than this too. Let’s say your client prefers emails, do they prefer 1-2 sentence responses or do they prefer a paragraph or so? How much information are they looking for?

If you can mirror their style, the client will subconsciously enjoy conversing with you. Catering to your client’s needs through the medium of their choice will highlight the relationship as efficient.

Make them aware of any unavailabilities

I have an article on how to take a vacation as a freelancer that goes into this in greater detail. I’ll link it down below for you.

However, to summarise, you should let your clients know well in advance when you may be away. On vacation or time-off, send them a formal email to let them know exactly the dates you’ll be gone.

I would advise to let your client know that you will still meet their deadline no matter what. This also gives clients time to strategize around your absence.

Doing this will show your clients that you take initiative. Your awareness of the external inconveniences that a client may face shows experience. Your methods to work around such inconveniences show professionalism.

Welcome Requested Revisions

One of the most important methods of relationship management for a freelancer.

Listen to your client’s concerns with any work you’ve done and fix it. This is a relatively no-questions-asked kind of arrangement.

Even if your client is rude, misleading, or just downright wrong. It is in your best interest as a freelancer to complete any revisions that have been requested.

Happy wife, happy life is an age-old adage. But when you are a freelancer, you are married to your work. Therefore I would suggest an alternative: Happy client, happy life.

You want them to have a positive working relationship with you. This will keep the client coming back as well as opening the door for word-of-mouth marketing. Return-customers and endorsements are important keys to a freelancer’s longevity.

Although relationship management is a fine art with a thousand finer details, these tips here wrap up the basics.

Some more reads to fine-tune your freelancing:

How To Go On Vacation As A Freelancer

Essential Project Management Skills

4 Tips to Stay Fit as a Freelancer

Freelancing: The Importance of Meaningful Work

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