A troubling thought, isn’t it?
You’ve been looking to expand your horizons, move out of your comfort zone and hunt for new clients.
You’ve been pitching like crazy these past few months. More than that, you’ve also been a frequent visitor at blogs and writing sites that teach you how to “write pitches that convert.”
It’s back to the good old days when you first started pitching.
When you’re about to accept that you’re not as good as you once were—you get an email from a client you wrote to a while back. It’s an acceptance email, drowned in a sea of rejections.
You Just Landed a New Client
Since you are a seasoned veteran who has had more than a dozen pitches accepted, landing a client is nothing new to you.
It’s cracking past the offering and maintaining high client retention that keeps you up at night, and this time you don’t want it to be the same. For whatever reason, you struggle with getting lifetime clients, and your freelance operation churns clients at a high rate.
This struggle happens to far too many freelance writers. Moving from pitching to clients to retaining them is the proverbial jumping from the pan into the fire.
This situation doesn’t always have to be the case.
Knowing How to Handle a Client from Day One is a Surefire Way to Grow Your Writing Career
Let’s be honest—no one knows what a client wants, and getting to understand them can be an uphill task. However, with the proper steps, you can build a healthy foundation with your clients, outliving your writing career.
And it all starts on day one. With a strong foundation, setting the trajectory for a fruitful client relationship has never been easier.
Thank goodness you found your way here.
Ready to take the plunge?
1. Agree on Payment Terms
You may have coffee with your client, go golfing a bit and then take a cross-country road trip. However, before agreeing on payment terms, you and your client are far from being partners.
Even the most decorated clients and freelancers hit this iceberg, and it sinks their future dreams and aspirations. For one, many freelancers may feel that they are being underpaid, and some clients may feel that they are overpaying.
Pitching on a high-end platform like nDash takes half of this burden off your back since you have to be clear upfront on how much you want to be paid for a project.
From there onwards, the other half is your responsibility, and you must address these issues quickly. How often should the client pay you? Is it bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly? Regarding payment, clarity is more important than the amount exchanged.
2. Draft a Client-Freelancer Contract
Due to the secure nature of clients and the reputation that precedes it, freelancers who pitch on sites such as nDash may never get to see the bottom page of a client contract.
However, as it happens many times, these one-time pitches on nDash may end up becoming lifelong gigs that last a few years.
Here is where a contract comes in handy.
A client contract is one of the foundations of a life-long client relationship. A contract may not be essential for one-time jobs, but if you are writing thirty pieces a month for one client, doing so without a contract is a grave mistake.
For starters, a contract formalizes your relationship with a client. That alone builds your brand image as a reputable writer. It then includes guidelines on payment terms, termination terms, and workflow terms.
It may not seem significant, but the clarity a contract offers and the show of mutual respect go a long way in establishing lifelong client relationships.
3. Inquire About the Client’s Audience
Understanding your client is half the journey on a lifelong relationship; getting to know their audience is getting there.
One of the earliest inquiries while preparing to set sail with your new client should be understanding their audience.
Many freelancers may assume that their vague image of the client’s audience is an actual representation. It’s not.
You might need to go the extra mile when getting to know your client’s audience. What are their beliefs, their gender, what is their politics, what is their view of the world? Know their language, reflex their values and understand their pain points.
All this information is crucial. Take, for example, if you’re writing for a renewable energy company whose clients are incredibly liberal and vegan. A piece that mentions hunting and cooking a deer on a July 4th evening won’t be healthy for that relationship.
4. Understand the Overall Tone and Style
Getting to know the brand’s tone and style goes a long way if you want to impress the client from the early stages and form a lasting relationship.
The clients typically put the tone and style in their writing guides, but if you’re in a position to contact them, why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth?
If you can ask nicely, you can always squeeze a few more descriptive words about the tone and style a client desires.
Some may want the piece to be clear-cut and straight to the point. On the other hand, others may want a bit more flowery language.
Always remember that clients can explain their tone and style in a way no writing guide ever will, and with that understanding, your journey with that client is much easier.
5. Inquire the Purpose of the Piece
Last but not least is to inquire about the purpose of that piece. Each piece a freelancer writes has a motive behind it, and it’s crucial to know it beforehand.
Your client may want content that focuses on lead generation. In this case, your piece should embody a value proposition that is not too salesy but captures the value the client offers their audience.
On the other hand, your client may want an educational piece. This piece might contain a significant amount of data and information that leaves the audience more knowledgeable about a specific topic.
Lastly, your client may want content showcasing their brand as a thought leader. In this case, your pitches and work should be about trends, recent developments, and emerging technologies that challenge the reader’s view.
With the client’s purpose in mind, writing work that aligns with the client’s views becomes easier.
Bonus Point: Foster Mutual Respect
Respect! Respect! Respect!
If we’re honest, not all client-freelancer relationships are the same.
As a freelancer, not every client has been respectful towards you—but most of them are bound to show honor once you do. So, to develop an effective freelance-client relationship, ensure you are as respectful to the client as you can.
This respect manifests itself in many ways, from how you value each other’s opinions, abilities, and time, being conscious of the tone while communicating, and providing thoughtful feedback, to name a few. Doing so helps you create a great relationship and can go a long way in building your reputation as a freelancer.
I hope we’ve inspired you to rethink your approach towards new clients and spurred you to understand what makes the ultimate difference in the initial stages of working with a client.
Tomorrow, start fresh.
The better you can do this, the better you can become at convincing clients and fostering a positive, long-lasting relationship with a client.
This post was written by nDash community member Victor Kananda.