You’re reading an excerpt from Art For Money, by Michael Ardelean. This small but powerful book helps every creative freelancer know their value and scale their business. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.
Top four reasons you should do what it takes to absolutely delight every client you work with:
It’s the right thing to do and it makes life more enjoyable.
They’ll hire you again. It’s more efficient to gain repeat clients than to go find new clients. Both are good of course, but in some professions, six really great clients could be all you need from now until you retire. Do the math on how wonderful your business could look if every client you have now would happily hire you three times per year, in perpetuity.
They’ll refer you to other clients. Those clients could also become repeat clients. Now we’re talking about compound growth.
The more happy clients you have, the more agency you have. You can decide to work with great people rather than be forced to take whatever you can get.
Remember, your client is professional (and if they aren’t, still, treat them like they are) and they are either A) accustomed to dealing with professionals or B) not accustomed to dealing with professionals and will be pleasantly surprised when dealing with you.
If you’re a people person, client relationships are fun. If you’re not a people person, client relationships are a fun challenge.
Find something in common with your contact at the company, and show interest in them. Be their friend, send them links to articles they will enjoy, introduce them to great people, add value to their lives, and have fun with it.
Look them in the eye and speak without filler words and most importantly, when you get the job, crush it. Over-deliver, and over-deliver early.
Make certain that you are the best, easiest to deal with, funniest, most complimentary and pleasant professional they’ve ever hired.
Now you’ve got a long-term client, which means you’re busier than you were yesterday. The thing about busy people is their value goes up.
Once you have elevated a client to “long term” status, here a few suggestions for maintaining that relationship:
If it’s sensitive, pick up the phone. Texts and emails are great for saying “Hi” and answering basic questions, but terrible for important or nuanced conversations. These include negotiations, taking feedback or criticism that could be misconstrued, or anything that needs to remain confidential. A good rule of thumb for anything you’re considering putting in writing: assume it will be A) misunderstood and B) forwarded.
Touch base between jobs. I don’t mean, “Hey, it’s been a while, got any work for me?” but rather, “Check out this article, it reminds me of our last conversation. Hope you’re well!”
Send Thanksgiving gifts. It’s unexpected (nobody sends gifts on Thanksgiving), it’s sincere (attach a note expressing how grateful you are for their partnership), and it’s classy (make it all about them, not you).
A person is constituted in language. As such, when a person’s word is less than whole and complete, they are diminished as a person.Michael Jensen
important Not being able to fire a deadbeat client, and thus being locked into a toxic relationship for money reasons, defeats the whole purpose of freelancing.
Many, if not most, of your client frustrations might stem from the fact that you can’t leave the clients you have, because you don’t have any new ones coming in.