Category Archives: Impressing clients

Be accessible to your clients

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.

Advertisements

Make your business card a magnet

People in corporations work in cubicles. Cubicles have metal edges. Thus, people in cubicles like magnets. If your business card is a magnet, it will hang on your clients’ walls as a constant reminder that you’re available. It won’t be lost in a Rolodex or worse, used as a toothpick and then discarded.

You can get a box of 500 magnetic business cards for under $100 at most printers. Do a Google search on “magnetic business cards” to find a vendor you like.

Here’s another tip. Always give your clients two business cards so they can share one with a colleague or coworker. The more eyes within the company that see your name, the faster your business will grow.

Got a niche?

In the publishing industry, you’ll never sell a book if your target audience is “everyone.” Likewise, you won’t get many large corporate customers if you claim you can write about “anything.” Even if it’s true — you’re ready, willing and able to write about any topic as long as someone is ready, willing and able to pay you to do so — it’s not the best approach to getting corporate clients.

Write what you know. You’ve heard that one before, right? It’s true! And, instead of limiting you, it will actually help you get clients.

Here’s an exercise for you. Do a Google search on “freelance writer.” How many hits did you get? A lot, right? About 14 million! If you had a website, where would it land in that list? Now Google: [a topic you know about] + “writer”. For my niche, that number drops incredibly and, more importantly, my website shows up on page one!

Here’s another reason: you can turn work around much faster when you know the subject well. You’ll spend less time researching and more time writing. Which opens up your time to take on more work. And that, my friends, can help you make even more money.

You can have more than one niche topic, but be careful about spreading yourself too thin. You will dilute the power of your niche and its ability to draw clients straight to your door.

So what’s your niche? This exercise can help you find out.

  • Who is your present employer? What is the industry?
  • For which industries have you worked in the past?
  • On which topics have you been published in the past?
  • Do you have an educational background or skill in something other than writing?
  • What are your hobbies? Do you have any special interests or fascinations in which you would find enjoyment as a writer?
  • Are there any topics that you know more about than the average person? Do people tend to ask for your advice in certain areas?
  • If you were to write a “How to” book, what would it be about?