Most tips for freelancers are geared towards improving your writing tone, speed, or tidying up grammar and spelling errors.
In this business, however, the quality of what your produce is only part of the path to success: you’ll need to know how to deal with clients, too.
Even if you’re working exclusively through a content creation site, your relationship with your clients will dictate repeat business, ratings, reviews, endorsements and so much more.
With all that riding on a client’s impression of you, shrugging it off and just doing the work is the same as choosing to tread water when the shore is within sight.
Here are a few insider tips for cultivating a great relationship with your clients:
An enduring piece of advice for those having business lunches is to mimic the choices of the boss or person of highest rank at the table.
If he or she orders a salad and an iced tea, for example, you wouldn’t want to order a filet mignon and a whiskey sour.
The same type of advice can be extended to client communication. If the client discusses formal white paper research and uses language that would feel at home in an executive meeting, try to meet that professionalism with similar language.
Alternately, if their tone is very casual, avoid sounding overly formal or stiff in your messages. You don’t want to alienate a laid-back client by sounding too buttoned up.
In all cases, avoid (unless you’re tasked with writing about them as subjects) foul language, religious or political commentary, or other subjects that would be inappropriate to broach with an in-person boss.
Keep it Vulcan.
For those unfamiliar with the classic sci-fi series Star Trek, one of the main characters is Spock, a pointy-eared alien of the Vulcan race.
Vulcans are known for their impassioned and logical responses to situations that would fluster humans, making them valuable counselors in crisis situations. In this case, “keeping Vulcan” means that you should never let your anger or frustration with a client show while communicating with them.
If they hurl insults at you or become extremely difficult to work with for any reason, the answer is never to “take the bait” and mirror that behavior back at them.
Don’t condescend or belittle clients that don’t understand writing site rules, either; while you’re a freelancer, you’re also an ambassador to the site you’re working for.
If you fly off the handle at a difficult client, they may take that behavior as representative of the site itself – and that’s a fast way to earn yourself a site demotion or similar issue.
Imagine tipping a waiter or waitress, only to have them grab the money and walk off wordlessly with a neutral facial expression.
This is the equivalent of what you’re doing when you fail to thank a client for a tip, or for sending repeat work your way.
You’ll want to make sure your gratitude is genuine and sincere, but that doesn’t mean that a tip or consideration doesn’t warrant a basic “thank you.”
Without frequent human contact from co-workers in a physical office, freelance writing can sometimes cause formal business manners to slip. So make sure you’re critically assessing your messages on a regular basis.
Expressing thanks when a client tips you, selects your pitch, or returns to you for additional work is a great way to ensure that work keeps flowing.
Freelance writing can be an exercise in learning on the fly for new writers in particular. If you approach each project and client mindfully, you’ll start gathering the volume of work you’re looking for.
Remember, clients are people too, and your paid words may not be the only words you’re being judged on.
These wise tips were shared by 6-star writer Delany M. Delaney has completed over 1,700 orders within the WriterAccess platform, attended two Content Marketing Conferences, and writers for clients that range from small e-commerce boutiques, to national chain retailers.
Thank you for all that you do Delaney, and we look forward to seeing you in Boston in April!