When you work for corporate clients, it’s important to be as accessible as any employee of the corporation. Make your clients think you’re just over the wall in the cubicle next door. Keep steady hours so your clients know when they can reach you. Then, monitor your email and answer your phone so they actually can reach you.
You should also remind your family and friends that, just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you don’t work. No, you cannot babysit. Your freelance career is your day job. Would they be asking if you had a job outside the home?
This doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your desk for eight hours every day. If you want to have Thursday lunch with the girls, go for it. You could do the same if you were employed. Just remember that you must get back to your “job.”
If you have to run an errand during the work day, go ahead if you have the time to do so. But, a pressing deadline must always take priority. If you’re working closely with a particular client on a project, but the ball isn’t presently in your court (for example, you’re waiting for supporting information), don’t hesitate to run your errand. Let active clients know you’ll be away from your desk for a little while, and when you expect to return — just like you would at any other day job.
Communicate any personal and vacation days with your active clients so they can plan projects around your absence. Give them sufficient advance notice so that, if they do have upcoming projects for you, they’ll have the opportunity to fit the writing portion into the schedule either before you leave or after you get back. That way, you won’t come home from a well-deserved vacation to learn your steady clients were forced to find a new vendor.
Being accessible also means accepting “rush” jobs when your schedule allows. It’s a big part of being a go-to person, which is how you can get steady clients to come back to you. Rush jobs tend to be seasonal and may differ based on your niche industry. But they can also happen year round. If you have working experience within your niche, you’ll have a feel for your rush season. If not, you’ll find out soon enough. Other than the anticipated seasonal period, I haven’t found rush jobs to be a problem. They’re a good source of income and they help keep my clients happy.
By the way, it’s okay to charge an added premium for rush jobs. Just make sure your client knows how much you’ll add to your usual rate.