How much time do you spend plowing through job boards, applying to writing gigs, and pitching new businesses? What if you could spend less time chasing after new clients and more time on paid assignments? Wouldn’t it feel great if you didn’t have to worry about where your next gig will come from when managing your freelance writing career?
For many freelance writers, the key to building a profitable and sustainable career is the ability to retain clients.
It’s often more cost-effective to work with existing clients. Not only can you save time from pitching new businesses, but you’ll also be able to command a higher fee.
Here’s how to increase your client retention rate as a freelance writer:
1. Understand Your Clients’ Needs
Take the time to communicate with your clients and understand their businesses. Do some research on their brands, tone of voice, and industry trends.
Be client-centric in all your interactions. Ask meaningful questions, find out what your clients want to accomplish, and offer recommendations that will help them achieve their goals.
When you know exactly what your clients are looking for, you can set yourself up for success by delivering results that they’ll be happy with. Not to mention, you’ll gain their trust and establish yourself as a long-term ally.
2. Set and Exceed Expectations
A clear scope and realistic expectations help prevent misunderstandings that can sour the client relationship and reduce the likelihood that a client will return.
Ask your clients to provide a creative brief at the start of each project, so you’ll know exactly what’s expected. Take the time to review the requirements, ask for clarifications, and check your writing schedule to ensure that you can handle the workload without missing a deadline or delivering sloppy work.
While you should adhere to the scope and not do extra work without being fairly compensated, look for small gestures that can surprise and delight your clients. For example, by going above and beyond when sourcing images, beating the deadline by a couple of days or writing up a few title options.
3. Be Responsive, Professional, and Dependable
Good communication helps foster client relationships and build trust. Let your clients know you’re always happy to answer any questions they have (e.g., email, text), and the turnaround time they can expect.
Make sure you respond to all client correspondences in a timely manner — if you can’t provide a thoughtful answer at the moment, acknowledge that you have seen the message and let the client know when you’ll be able to respond.
Provide progress updates when appropriate and make sure you adhere to the assignment deadlines. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and if you run into issues (e.g., you got sick for a few days), let the client know ahead of time and propose a realistic alternative.
4. Freelance Writing is About Adding Value
After working with your clients for a while, you’ll have a good sense of their brand messages, target audiences, industry trends, business objectives, and preferences.
Use the knowledge to add value to the creative process and client relationships. For example, many clients appreciate writers who keep their eyes out for relevant trending stories and offer suggestions on topic ideas for blog articles.
You can also share unique insights or the latest resources on content creation to help your client contacts do their jobs better. This will not only win over hearts and minds but can also open up new opportunities for other projects (e.g., creating an editorial calendar or content strategy).
5. Produce High-Quality Work
If you want to retain great clients, you have to produce high-quality work consistently. Most clients don’t mind paying more if they know that they don’t have to worry about chasing down a writer, missing deadlines, or deliverables that are full of errors.
Focus on creating content that will help your clients achieve their objectives. Follow content marketing best practices, cite reputable sources, keep SEO in mind, and write in your client’s voice.
Respond to comments and revision requests professionally. Ask for client feedback after a project is done — it shows that you care, and you can take the opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t for each client so you can improve client satisfaction in subsequent assignments.
Final Thoughts on Retaining Freelance Writing Clients
Freelance writing can be a competitive marketplace, and if clients aren’t happy with your service, they will find another writer.
On the other hand, if you deliver high-quality work and outstanding client experience, you’ll be at the top of your clients’ lists. You’ll be the first one they contact, and they’d be more than happy to pay more, knowing that the assignment is in good hands.
When you adopt a professional and client-centric attitude, you’ll not only build lasting client relationships that’ll fill your writing schedule but also get more referrals and glowing recommendations that’ll help you attract more clients.
Editors Note: This post was written by nDash community member Ling Wong. With extensive experience in content creation, Ling Wong frequently writes for SaaS, IT, and marketing companies. To learn more about Ling – or have her write content for your brand – check out her nDash writer profile.