Making your clients love you—while providing the services they need—is ultimately the only way to get them to stick around for the long haul. We all know that long-term anchor clients (that you love) are the key to “making it” as a freelancer, but figuring out how to get there continues to be a real head scratcher for many of us.
I’ve been fortunate to partner with a few of the same stellar clients for several years running, and those relationships are the cornerstone of my business, of my livelihood, of my stress management strategy, and so much more. Keeping them happy, at this point, is pretty easy—but that’s largely because we’ve worked together for so long that I not only understand their businesses and their workflows, but also their personalities. But, until you get to that point, there are a few strategies you can put into play to make new clients fall in love with you.
And here they are.
1. Respond to everything in a timely fashion. When a client emails with a question or anything else, don’t make them wait. Replying quickly is a great way to let your client know you’re on top of things, even if you don’t have the answer they need—yet. I’m not talking about replying to every 9pm email you receive, but I try to reply to everything (that needs a reply) within 2-3 business hours. This attention sends a clear message that their business is important to me.
2. Get happy. Regardless of what’s going on in your business, your life, or your living room, make an effort to use cheerful, friendly language in your email communications and on the phone with clients. Work to make your interactions a positive part of your client’s day or week, so that they look forward to the opportunity to communicate with you.
3. Offer alternatives and positive suggestions if you have to say no to a client’s ask. We can’t always do exactly what a client wants, but we don’t live in an all-or-nothing world, especially when you’re your own boss. If you can’t (or don’t want to) do something a client asks, think outside the box to offer another option (or two) to help them meet their goals.
4. Stay one step ahead. Anticipating a client’s needs is the easiest way to make yourself indispensable. While some folks simply fulfill the minimum requirements of a contract, those who go a little above and beyond really stand out from the crowd. I’m not talking about working for free here, but rather about making suggestions to enhance your client’s business—content suggestions, project ideas, process improvements, etc.
5. Be an actual rockstar. (Think more Beyonce, less Axl Rose.) Deliver the goods, be easy to work with, add value (and a little fun) to your client’s world, and do not give them any reasons to worry about working with you. If you can manage that, it won’t be long before your inbox fills up with all sorts of warm accolades.
Lather, rinse, and repeat. Over time, these steps will help you home in on the best ways to serve each client. And, when in doubt, just ask. Clients love to be asked how you can better help them reach their business goals. And, believe me, they will be happy to tell you.