by Deborah Ng
As freelancers we know there’s no better feeling than knowing we were chosen to do a job out of dozens, if not hundreds of applicants. Something about our writing styles set us apart from the rest, and that has us walking upon air.
With some writers that pleasure is short-lived. Even though landing the gig is the hard part, they find it tough to keep interested in their assignment. So if you want to turn your clients into repeat clients, and you want the gig to be something steady, it’s best to be on your best behavior, even if the job isn’t as exciting as you anticipated.
First, a story
Once upon a time, there was an up and coming freelance writer and blogger. She worked hard to land gigs and get herself noticed. When she was hired to work for a notable website she was elated. After a few months she was bored to tears and didn’t put her all into the gig. And it showed. Several months later she left said job, as prestigious as it was. When she was on the short list for another great opportunity she asked her former editor for a recommendation. The editor said, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that. I know you have made a name for yourself and people look up to you, but you didn’t put your all into this job. You were late with assignments, missed deadlines and made promises you didn’t keep. Now, you’ll probably get the job having this on your resume, but if I’m asked to recommend you, I can’t do that.”
Whoa. Did that hit home! The freelancer was devastated. Even though she got the job, her former editor’s words stung. She knew there was a note of truth to them. She prided herself on her reputation as a reliable freelancer and mentor of others, but she didn’t put enough of an effort into the boring gig,and it showed. She got lazy and someone called her on it. After that, she made it a point to do the best job possible, even if the work was boring.
The moral of the story? If someone hires you to do a job they’re trusting you to meet deadlines and do the work to the best of your ability, even if it bores you to tears. You’re only as good as your reputation, blow that and no one will hire you.
Here are a few ways to ensure clients turn into repeat business
1. Communicate: By keeping the lines of communication open, you’re creating trust. Your editor needs to know where you stand on your projects. If you’re having difficulty, contact her to see what you can work out. If you need an extension of your deadline or the workload is unrealistic, communicate. There’s no reason to contact your editor at the last moment possible to give bad news.
2. Meet your deadlines: Even though I’m offering up the obligatory blurb, this is self-explanatory. Deadlines are given for a reason. Your editor needs the lead time to proofread, format, and give your content to the tech or art departments so they can do their thing. If you miss your deadline, you screw over several people.
3. Keep your promises: If you promise a word count, keep your word count. If you promises sources and interviews, find them. If you promise work by a certain day, meet the deadline. Nothing is worse than a writer who offers lots of promises but gives excuses in return.
4. Turn in top-notch work: Don’t put off a gig until the last minute and turn in some hastily written, off the top of your head piece of garbage filled with misspellings. Consider every piece of writing you submit to be part of your portfolio. Someone, somewhere will read it and it could lose you a good gig somewhere down the line.
5. Don’t accept a gig unless you intend to give it your all: The freelancer in our story accepted gigs from notable companies because of the boost it gave to her resume. She hated the work though, and it showed. When her editor from a prestigious gig wouldn’t give her a job recommendation later on, she realized she got lazy because she didn’t like the work. Don’t accept a job because of the name, accept a job because it’s something you’ll enjoy and something you know will produce good results.
Freelancing is a dream. We have the freedom to pick and choose our clients and make our own hours but we can’t rest on our laurels. Many freelancers have to rely on client recommendations and our own good name to continue having repeat clients. If you get lazy or can’t get into a gig it shows. Ensure a good reputation by meeting deadlines, communicating with your client and delivering on what you promise. Trust me, they notice.