What's the easiest way to make your clients WANT to give you additional work, or refer new business your way? Doing your best work is part of it, but there are actually five fundamental credos that should form the foundation of your freelance practice.
These are indeed basic credos, but by no means are they universally adhered to. And so they're worthy of our attention here because, as in most things in life, if you stop paying attention to the basics, sooner or later you're bound to get tripped up. Have a look...
Credo #1: Be a Joy to Work With
Make it your mission to be the person who delivers excellent work on every project, while making the entire process a treat for the client. There's no future for the rude, short-tempered or arrogant freelancer. Don't be unpleasant to work with by heaving an audible sigh when the client asks for minor revisions or changes to your work.
Credo #2: Be Professional
If you call yourself a professional, you must act professionally at all times. This means much more than simply meeting deadlines, keeping promises, and the like. This means you take ownership of the work you engage in.
It means you eschew the "I've done my part; now the ball's in the client's court" attitude so many freelancers adopt. Instead, you exude a more positive, collaborative demeanor. You accept feedback with confidence and humility, and you strive to make clients happy.
Credo #3: Deliver Outstanding Work
On every project, put forth your best effort and deliver your best work. Avoid rushing to complete jobs, and try not to cram your schedule so tight with deadlines that you're always working under time pressure to just get projects out the door. The quality of your work will suffer, and so will your chances of securing repeat business.
Speaking of quality, be sure the work you submit to clients has passed through some sort of quality-control process. Whatever you produce, be sure your work has been proofread, checked for errors, and is vetted against the specifications outlined by your client, etc. Consistently delivering outstanding, high-quality work is the best way to ensure you get more!
Credo #4: Be Flexible
Not all projects will go smoothly. You might encounter delays because someone in your client's company is unreachable for a day or two. A certain phase of the project might get put on hold. Or the scope might change considerably midway through the project. These things happen, so you must expect them and roll with them.
The difference between average and top-earning freelancers is that the top earners always try to create win-win outcomes for themselves and their clients, rather than complain and get deflated when a project doesn't go according to plan.
Credo #5: Thank Clients Frequently
Your clients are human beings. They appreciate sincere gestures and acts of kindness just like everyone else. Let your clients know you appreciate their business. A handwritten thank-you card sent through the mail is a high-impact and low-cost way to do just that.
You don't have to send a card out for every project, but certainly send at least one at the beginning of your first engagement. As your relationship grows, you can even go a few steps further by expressing your appreciation with a small, suitable gift such as a gift card for a favorite coffee shop, a bottle of wine, chocolates, flowers, or a gift basket.
Holding yourself to these basic standards is not hard. But we freelancers are human beings, not machines, so sometimes we let emotions, circumstances or just plain laziness shift our focus away from these basics.
It's worth internalizing these credos. When they become part of your daily work on every project, you'll naturally create the kind of 'dream client' relationships that everyone desires.