In this economy, it doesn’t matter if you work as a freelancer or if you’re a full time employee, there’s no such thing as job security. Even though we have regular clients, they can suffer from budget cuts and that can mean the end of our gig. The trick is to make it so your client can’t function without you.
The trick is to be indispensable.
Be someone your clients can rely on
When it’s time to trim the fat, the first people to go are the ones who provide lackluster service. If your client feels you’re giving something of value, he’ll want to keep you around. If your words sell, you’ll survive budget cuts. If your words bring results, he won’t see you as dead weight. If you meet your deadlines, turn in clean work every single time, and keep up good communication, your client will see you as a necessity and not an expense. There’s more to the job than the task, good customer service, work habits, ROI, and an exceptional finished product will help to keep you around. Always deliver what you promise. Make it hard for your clients to function without you, and make sure they see value in your work.
Anticipate your clients needs
Don’t wait for your clients to call you, call them to see if they need anything. Get to know them, and what they want. Anticipate their needs. If they’re considering a marketing campaign, present them with a quote for a one stop shopping list including brochures, newsletters, web copy and direct mail. Think about what they need beyond the usual writing. Ask for their long term goals and consider what products they’ll need in the future. Put together a plan and proposal. Show them the effort beyond the project, go for the end result.
Check your ego at the door
Don’t be that writer.
Don’t storm off in a huff because your client had the audacity to want what he wants and not what you think he wants. Too many writers feel they’re artists and know what’s best for the client, even if the client doesn’t know this himself. Mostly, your job is to do what your client is paying you to do. If you give him something else and he’s not happy, it’s not his fault.
Listen to your client. Learn exactly what he wants from you and what his long term goals are for each project. By all means, offer suggestions but don’t take it to heart if your client doesn’t want to go that way.
Do you want to be indispensable?
Always do your best. Don’t go through the motions, don’t just get by and don’t wait until the very last minute to complete your project. Give it 100 percent of your effort. Don’t sign your name to anything that isn’t perfect. People who are indispensible don’t give anything less than their best.
How do you make yourself indispensible to your clients?
Great article, Deb. You’re right to point out the importance of always being professional, providing value and optimum customer service (a dying art…) to clients every time. We can become more indespensible when we dig deeper to find out more about their business goals and show how we can meet those needs.
Still, I feel much more secure these days with 10 rotating clients than I would relying on one 9 to 5 job. If one or two clients suddenly disappear it’s not as crucial as losing that one source of income. But I do get your point – we as writers are only as valuable to our clients as the service we provide, and writers can be replaced.
I agree, Kimberly. I feel much more secure in what I do now – I know I will always be able to find work. When my husband was laid off, it took him four months to find another job. I’m confident this won’t happen to me. However, as I’ve been putting so much into my blog lately, I’m worried about the advertising drying up sometimes.
Well thank you, Ty!