I’ve got a special trick to share with you. It’s the secret formula for being a great freelancer who gets continual freelance work. It’s the trick that will help you not only get clients coming back, but assures they will refer their friends to you as well.
It’s total magic and very few freelancers do a good job with it.
Are you ready? Wait for it….
The special trick is: Answer your email within 24 hours every time.
As I sit here in Starbucks and watch Tweets go by, I know that one of the freelancers I communicate with regularly is looking for work. They are specifically looking for WooCommerce work. I also know that it’s not that this freelancer is just waiting for the right project. They need the work to pay bills in the next few weeks.
I just got off the phone with one of their prospective clients and I understand why this freelancer is looking for work. They left the client hanging for 48+ hours on an email response and the client felt like they were forgotten.
This client sent an email and a tweet Sunday evening about a possible project. It’s Wednesday and there is no response on either front.
The prospect emailed me late Tuesday night and I responded Wednesday morning. We’ve now had a phone call and they aren’t even going to bother with the other developer.
I’m the client’s second choice and I won them over in a morning, simply by actually responding to them. Nothing magic — I just treated them with respect.
I’m all for batching my work time. I don’t leave email open all day ever, but batching stuff to only respond to every 3 days is a bit excessive. One of the best ways I found to get clients is to respond to them in a timely fashion.
This issue isn’t limited to prospective clients trying to get in touch with freelancers, either. Every other week I hear about a client who had a developer they were working with drop off the face of the earth.
The last client I took that had 3 freelancers disappear is an awesome client. They pay their bills within hours of getting sent an invoice. They roll with technical challenges as they come up and have reasonable requests.
Most of the clients who find me and have had bad communication with prior freelancers turn out to be awesome. It’s us that’s the problem.
One of the best things you can do to get and keep clients at any point in your freelance career is to be communicative with your clients.
My email update routine means I send the client an update email on Thursday/Friday with what was done during the week and what to expect next week. On Monday I send them an email telling them what to expect for the upcoming week.
Yes, I just said I send 2 emails with pretty similar content within about 3 days.
Then we talk once in a week, every week, where we go over what’s being done and address any challenges that have come up in the course of the past week.
I don’t go into the typical programmer ‘mole mode’ — I keep communicating and communicating. I figure if a client emails me to ask for an update, I’ve failed because they were wondering where I was and what’s up.
The extra mile
Once you implement this strategy, which covers the basics, then you kick it up a notch. Send your awesome clients a handwritten card. Something I’m going to do is start sending my awesome clients a Lego mini figure at the end of our project with my business name on it and a handwritten card.
I keep track of my clients’ birthdays and send them a birthday card, and I also send them one card that just tells them they’re awesome, for no reason whatsoever.
Unfortunately sending those weekly updates will make you some amazing freelancer because almost no one else does it. Adding in the extra cards will push you to a level that most clients haven’t ever dealt with.
They won’t even know what to do with themselves.