Being a successful freelancer takes a lot more than being a passionate and talented writer, illustrator, photographer or designer.
Success as a freelancer also takes business acumen and the ability to self promote, for example. But there is one skill in particular that can make or break even the best freelancers—client management.
The term client management is actually shorthand for client relationship management. Client relationship management is a combination of practices and policies that guide how a company, or in this case a freelancer, interacts with both existing and potential customers. Proactive client relationship management has been demonstrated to generate repeat business from clients and boost overall sales.
Over time, it may lead to positive referrals from your clients and a top-notch reputation in your field. Client management can also enable you to charge more for your services—67% of customers will pay more for a great experience, according to a Salesforce study.
Now that you're convinced client management is important to your growth as a freelancer, let's take a look at a few ways to put it into practice.
This should go without saying, but it pays to communicate with your clients in a professional manner. Maintaining a professional relationship with your clients means communicating in a respectful and polite manner, whether you are speaking or writing to them.
It also means responding in a timely fashion, being honest, and following through on your commitments.
While you should "keep it professional" with your clients, doesn't mean that you can't be personable. Learn what you can about their background and interests, such as where they went to college.
Asking them about their hobbies or commenting on shared interests is a good way to make them feel connected to you, and more likely to come back to you when they need another project.
Don't just hit send on an assignment and forget about it. Be sure to follow up to see if the project met their expectations and if there are any things that you can improve next time. This is especially true for new clients, but it's also good to maintain this habit with all of your clientele.
Sending your clients something as simple as a Thank You card can go a long way towards making sure you become their favorite freelancer. If you have the budget, consider sending important clients a small gift at the end of the year such as a $5 Starbucks gift card or a cookie basket. If you do this, they certainly won't forget you.
Haven't heard from a certain client in a while? Now is the time to check-in and see if there are any projects you might be able to help them out with.
Pitch them an article idea or a concept for another project. Sometimes clients get busy, and checking in every once in a while is a great way to remind them that you are available and want to work with them again.
One of the most important aspects of client management is anticipating the needs of your customer.
This means knowing what they like and what they don't like. The best way to do that is to pay close attention to their feedback, and following it closely.
If you are completing projects on a marketplace like Fiverr, be sure to ask your clients to rate you.
This will not only boost your profile over time but also shows your clients that you value their opinion and are eager to improve.
By making a conscious effort to be a better client manager, you will more easily develop long-term client relationships. This means that you will have to spend less money and time marketing your services looking for new clients.
Client management doesn't have to take a lot of effort on your part. Simply treat your clients how you would want to be treated and you will be well on your way to forging a long-lasting partnership with everyone who hires you.