Kris Emery is our guest blogger this week.
Writer, Editor and Author of ‘Freelance Your Heart Out’, she tells us how to keep on the right side of your clients.
‘They don’t make it easy for us, do they?
Clients, love them, want the best job from us, but simultaneously manage to keep us guessing on what they want.
As an editor, I work with agency clients much of the time. Each one being different, I have to adapt to how they all work. This means a plethora of systems, an inbox brimming with uncategorisable rubbish, and a multitude of different contacts. Not easy.
Yet they all expect us to know intuitively how they work, without telling us much about life on the inside. You’re at an advantage if you’ve worked in-house, but still things move on and change. What are we to do?
Keeping quality top-notch is a challenge when so much energy goes on figuring out what your clients want. In my book Freelance Your Heart Out, I give these top suggestions for coming over savvier and generally more sorted. Based on an interview with one of my favourite clients, they’re an absolute must for making sure you’re front-of-mind when a new project is up for grabs.
1. Ask questions
Now, I know it sounds counterintuitive. You want to impress your clients by seeming in control and having it together. As I say in my book though, I’m not talking the basics here. I’m talking strategically asking questions to help your client learn what you need from them. These are questions that should show your client you know what you’re talking about and have thought through all the aspects. As well informing you of what you genuinely need to know, it’s your chance to shine by building your client’s confidence and opening a dialogue. Communication should be two-way.
2. Read instructions
Sounds obvious, right? This speaks to the previous point, though. Clarity is everything. Being rash and eager in order to impress can end up backfiring. Slow down. Lose the over-keen attitude. Chill. Be the person that you would want to work with.
3. Tell them you’re available
Certainly, one way to be top of the list when it comes to dishing out work is to be the last one in their inbox offering to take work on. One critical aside note here. Don’t hound them. Inform them of your availability, but steer clear of desperation. Once a week is grand. Once a month might be right in your line of work if projects are longer-term. Figure out what’s right for your industry.
4. Take the undesirable work sometimes
No matter what your work is, there’ll be something that your client is always dying to outsource that they just can’t get rid of no matter what. Do them a favour and don’t be the tenth person to turn them down that day. However hard, stick a smile on your face and accept it gratefully. You never know when you might need them to provide you something – anything! – when you hit a slow period.
5. Become their go-to guy
Companies outsource because they can’t justify having that resource on staff. It’s possible that they don’t even have the expertise in-house and this sits entirely with their freelancers. Educate yourself and go the extra mile. It will distinguish you from your freelance competition. This can help position you to command higher rates for that work in future. Refrain from being too aggressive on this though. It’s unattractive.
In short, a needy freelancer isn’t serving their purpose. You want to give, give, give. You want to connect and communicate, without taking up too much of their time, and show them you’re going to the greatest lengths for them.
The more you can educate yourself about clients’ needs without burdening them, the greater chance you have of the relationship blossoming. Keep it succinct and savvy. Give your best self consistently. Freelance your heart out.’
I’m Kris Emery, editor, writer, and author of Freelance Your Heart Out. I started out as a staff writer in London, but left behind my grotty ‘day job’ to plunge into freelancing. And they don’t call it that for nothing. It was awesome, but of course with horrendous, embarrassing failures thrown in. Since then, I’ve moved to NZ, which is where I am now. No contest, right?
Having been there myself, now I train others to do a great job of freelancing through writing and editing. I love helping other women to earn their own money in a free and flexible way. I learnt the hard way, so I know what not to do and am here to share.
You can find Kris here: http://KrisEmery.com