A huge part of finding success as a freelancer is to keep your clients happy. Seems easy enough, right? If you're new to the industry or even have some years under your belt, you may have trouble finding that sweet spot. Here's a quick guide on some strategies that have helped me to maintain long-term, rewarding relationships with my clients.
Communication is Everything – almost
Communication is so very important. This is probably one of the biggest complaints I've heard when onboarding a new client and getting feedback on their past experiences. When a client chooses to work with you, they are putting their trust into you. They may often be diving into unknown waters or may be still reeling from a disappointing situation. Communication builds trust and your client needs to know that they can count on you. Of course, there are limits to this, but everyone will have their own boundaries. In any situation, your client's should never feel that they have been left out to dry.
Honesty is Necessary
We all want to be the Jack and Jane's of All Trades. No one finds pride in admitting when they find themselves in a situation that is over their heads. But don't take your client along for a ride. If you are ever presented with a task that you don't have the confidence to complete with competence – be honest. Your relationship with your client can be strengthened with your integrity and willingness to help – even if that means turning down work. Work on building a network of professionals that you can sub-contract these types of projects to or provide referrals. Don't muddle through a challenge on your client's time.
Don't Run on Fumes
Almost all freelancers know what it's like to burn the midnight oil. Many of us work long hours and can find ourselves lost in the grind of a project. At times, we will need to make these types of sacrifices but it shouldn't be on the regular. Our minds need time to rest and reset so that we can look at things with fresh perspectives. Schedule your work accordingly so that you don't feel overwhelmed. Before bringing on a new client or confirming a work request, be sure that you're allowing yourself enough time to get through the demands while keeping reasonable deadlines. Don't let the decision of choosing work or sleep become a regular occurrence.
Be Gracious – always
Clients will move on from time to time for a variety of reason. Regardless of what their reasoning try your best to never part ways on bad terms. Freelancers will often keep long detailed records of client communications and (drum roll here…) logins! Anytime I face this situation, I always thank the client for the opportunity that I was provided with in working with them. I give them a heads-up on any licensing changes and/or renewals that will need to be addressed and provide them with any of the login info I have on file for them to easily pass on. It's just business, you do not have to take it personal.
Treat your clients with appreciation and respect. Without your clients – you wouldn't have a paycheck. There is no shortage of freelancers for clients to choose from, if you are given the opportunity, don't squander it! By treating your clients well you in turn also raise your own value with your reputation and your portfolio.