Following up on clients can be tricky if you’re a freelancer looking to land a gig. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a veteran in the freelancing business; sending out gentle reminders and a touching base email can be anxiety-inducing. You don’t want to come off as being pushy or annoying—unless you want to risk losing the client.
It’s imperative to still stay relevant, though. You’ll need to find a balance between spamming prospective clients with follow-ups and ghosting them after a one-time pitch. There are many ways to get your message across, dazzle the client, and get a lucrative gig. With approx 70.4 million freelancers in the USA alone, you’ll have to up your game with follow-ups.
The importance of follow-ups for a freelancer
Before we dive into the methods you can use to follow up, let’s take a look at why follow-ups are required in the first place. Here’s why you should be consistent with touching base.
Reminds clients of your collaboration
A client looking for a freelancer probably has a lot of applicants queuing up. They might prefer to fast-track this process and work with someone they know. Your follow-up will remind them of your previous collaboration, giving them a good reason to quickly pick you above new applicants.
Shows your intention and sincerity
Clients want to work with freelancers who are dedicated and sincere, especially if the gig is a long-term project. An eager follow-up will show prospective clients that you can be trusted and are committed to getting the work done. This can lead to more opportunities coming your way and the prospect of you finding more meaningful work.
Adds value with every interaction
It’s often not enough to just tell a client that you’re interested in the work required. Sending thorough follow-ups shows your clients that you’re willing to add value to the work by going above and beyond in your efforts.
Sets you apart from the competition
You don’t want to be just another freelancer waiting for phone calls to come in. A balanced follow-up strategy ensures that you break through the clutter and stand out from competing freelancers.
10 tips to follow up with clients as a freelancer
Here are a few ways to create a thorough follow-up strategy after you have gotten new freelance clients on board:
1. Ask for preferred channels to follow up
Clients often have preferred channels of communication. These might range from social media to emailing or even text messages. Make sure you check in and find out where your client likes to receive messages so you don’t annoy them.
2. Create positive email subject lines
Adding subject lines to emails is an efficient way of catching your client’s attention. Make sure you write catchy, interesting, and positive subject lines to stand out from the competition.
❌ “I’m available to work”
✅ “Super busy? I can help!”
Here, the first subject line is relatively generic and doesn’t exactly catch the reader’s attention. Whereas, the second email acknowledges a potential problem the reader might be having and puts you forward as a solution.
❌ “Please get in touch if you want to talk more about our meeting”
✅ “Have you thought about…?”
The second subject line grabs the reader’s attention and perhaps provides them with a new idea/project/service that they hadn’t previously considered. The first, though, is far too long. And, let’s face it, your contact is probably very busy and may need more of an incentive to get back in touch.
3. Keep messages short and targeted
Make sure your follow-up copy isn’t excessively lengthy, or you’ll lose the client’s interest. Keep the follow-up short and to the point, providing as much information as is necessary.
We worked together on (project name). I hope you were happy with the results.
I’d be keen to collaborate with you again, and I really think I could help with (outline what you could help with).
Are you available to jump on a call next week to discuss things further?
4. Include clear calls to action
As with content creation, you should include clear calls to action in your follow-ups. Let the client know how to get in touch and what you’re offering them for the gig.
- Hit reply if you have any questions.
- Are you available to jump on a call next week to discuss things further?
5. Avoid sales talk
Be careful not to make the follow-up sound like you’re peddling your services. You’re definitely selling your skills, but it shouldn’t come off as a transaction. Instead, write it out as if you’re catching up with a business acquaintance.
I wanted to touch base and see how things have been since we last talked.
I noticed you’re looking for someone to work on (details). I’ve taken a look and I think I’d be a great fit, especially given the success of our last collaboration.
Let me know if you think the same.
6. Make it personal
This one is easy to get wrong so tread carefully. Add a personal touch to your follow-ups but don’t let it sound too informal. After all, you’re applying for a job and still want to sound professional.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned you were interested in (topic). Well, I listened to/read this podcast/article and thought I’d pass it along (include link).
I really enjoyed working with you recently and would be keen to do so again. Let me know if I can help with any upcoming projects.
7. Keep time intervals in mind
Conduct research on where your client is based, keeping time zones in mind. You don’t want to message someone late at night. Also, keep track of the time between your follow-ups. Make sure you don’t end up spamming the client with incessant follow-ups. Keep your emails within office hours and wait at least five days before sending your follow-up.
8. Create follow-up triggers
This step will help you keep track of when you need to send your follow-ups. You can create time-based triggers that will remind you when you’re due for a follow-up.
The simplest solution is to set reminders in your calendar. If you are using email marketing software, you can set up a follow-up sequence following the parameters that you specify.
9. Add value in every follow up
When you send a follow-up, add value, i.e., include something extra so the client sees your dedication. You can offer an extra service or overtime, depending on the gig in question.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer with experience in SEO, you could offer to review and optimize some of their existing content. This has the added benefit of introducing the company to another skill that could be useful to them.
10. Avoid email blasts
Email is a great tool for freelancers but you shouldn’t send out email blasts to clients (generic emails that have the same message and little to no personalization). They will feel spammed and this will hurt your chances of getting a gig.
5 common types of follow-ups
Let’s take a look at some commonly used follow-up methods:
1. Follow up after the first proposal
The first follow-up is the most important. Don’t just wait around once you’ve sent in a proposal because there’s a high chance that another freelancer has snagged the client with a well-timed follow-up.
2. Solicitation for new work
It’s a good idea to consistently ask a client for new work. Too many follow-ups of this nature can be annoying but the trick is to find a balance. The client will admire your dedication to the work.
3. Progress updates
Don’t ghost your client once you’ve accepted a job, even if it the deadline is far off. Keep in touch and give them frequent progress updates to build credibility and confidence.
4. Touch base after periods of inactivity
Stay relevant and increase your recall with the client by touching base regularly. You should do this even if there’s no work on offer to increase your rankings with said client.
5. Overdue payment requests
This is the one no one wants to have to write. Send a polite request if your payment has been delayed for a while to remind them. You can use free templates online (e.g., settlement agreement and release template) to make your life easier.
Improve your follow-ups today
Find the right balance and land the gigs you’ve always wanted. Touching base with prospective and existing clients will assure them that you’re committed to the work and can be relied upon to deliver on tight deadlines. Freelancers who make the mistake of ghosting when there’s no work tend to lose out on good opportunities in the future.
You can improve your follow-up game by doing thorough research, talking to other freelancers, and asking clients how they like to receive follow-ups. Each client is unique and prefers different mediums of communication. Make sure you follow the list given above for efficient and effective follow-ups.
About the author
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities by use of toll-free numbers from Dialpad. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica has written for domains such as WooRank and Bizmanualz. Here is her LinkedIn.