Looking for freelanceis one of the drawbacks to doing this kind of work. In the “regular” working world, looking for work is something that you do when you are out of work or you are trying to find another job, either because you want to advance in your career or you don’t like where you are currently employed. No one likes looking for a job because, quite frankly, it sucks.
How would you like to never have to look for work again? (Or at least not as often.) Here are some tips that will help you develop a group of clients that will hopefully keep you busy most of the time.
1. Mind your manners.
Saying please and thank you aren’t frills or unnecessary language. Use them often and liberally. You can’t be too polite to your clients – even when they don’t return the favor. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and once you finish a project, take the time to thank the client for giving you the opportunity to work with them. Finishing on a positive note will make that client think of you the next time they need something done.
2. Show up when you say you will.
Don’t be the freelance who is like magic – just disappears one day. Clients like to be kept in the loop, and it only takes a minute to send an e-mail to give them a progress report every so often. I sometimes forget that since I work remotely, my clients don’t know what stage of a project I’m working on, but I try to deliver larger projects in stages so the client has a sense that the work is progressing.
3. Respond promptly when a client gets in touch.
You don’t need to answer every e-mail within minutes, but do get back to your clients promptly. You might have several clients whose projects you are currently juggling, but you need to make each one feel like their work is a priority for you.
4. Pick up the phone when it seems appropriate.
When something happens that needs to be dealt with quickly, don’t use e-mail. It might be a bit out of your comfort zone, but picking up the phone to talk to a client personally is a good way to get a question answered or get an issue resolved. If you decide to do so, it’s good form to introduce yourself (if you have never spoken to client before) and say, “I know you’re busy so I’ll be brief….” and then get to the reason for your call.
5. Don’t get too comfortable.
I think a certain level of insecurity about your professional life is not a bad thing – as long as you use properly. If you feel too comfortable with a client or a type of work, you may not be as careful about making sure you understand instructions or following them appropriately. The last thing you want to do is turn in sloppy work because Client X is someone you have developed a long-term relationship with.
I genuinely like and respect all of my clients and I hope it’s the same for them. That doesn’t mean that I ever forget the fact that if they aren’t happy with my work, they can easily go elsewhere.
It’s worth it to me to treat my professional relationships like the precious commodities they are. It takes more effort to be constantly looking for new clients than to have an existing client base that will provide you with at least and certain level of work on a regular basis.