In a comment on a recent post about successful e-book sales also leading to thousands of dollars in freelance writing gigs, I responded to a comment from Amandah Blackwell. And in my response, I basically said that freelancers should treat their own projects as they would treat a client's project, and that they should treat clients' projects as if they were their own. Today I'd like to expand upon the latter part of that.
One of the biggest compliments I've received from a client was that he felt like I treated his business as if it was my own. That's not to say I tried to control his business as I would my own, but that I took his goals, his audience, and his ultimate success as seriously as I did for my business.
This wasn't something I set out to do intentionally, but upon reflection I realized this is how I almost always treat my clients. And it's probably one of the biggest reasons I've been able to keep so many loyal clients, several spending as many as eight years growing with me instead of replacing me with newer, cheaper writers as my business grew and rates went up.
Really, I can't imagine not doing business like this. I wouldn't want to hire someone who didn't genuinely care about helping my business succeed. And I could never be the type of freelancer who serves as a "yes man" type or shows up just to make a buck and leave.
So for this week's quick tip, I'm going to suggest that you try harder to do the same for your freelance writing clients. Find ways to treat your client's business as you would want to treat your own. You might be surprised by the pay-off.
3 Ways Treat Your Client's Business Like Your Own
Here are a few ways you can start treating client businesses the same way you would treat your own.
1. Choose clients with whom you have mutual respect.
A key element of this is making sure you're on equal footing with your clients. Remember, you're a business owner with specialized skills and knowledge being brought in to satisfy a specific need. You're not an employee working under anyone. You're not there to simply earn a quick buck. You're there to work with your clients and members of their teams.
Work with clients you respect. And work with clients who equally respect you. Let them come to you with questions or to solicit feedback and advice. No matter what kind of freelancer you are, on some level, for some gigs, you're going to act as a sort of consultant. Embrace that, and don't be afraid to share your real thoughts.
Clients worth having aren't ones who want you to praise and immediately act on their every idea and then watch as they fail. They want the skills and knowledge you can bring to the table to help them make better decisions about their copy, content, or other projects you're assisting with. So bring it.
2. Get to know your client's target market.
Your job as a freelance writer isn't simply to write. It's to write for each individual client's target market or audience in a way that helps your client meet some kind of goal. That might mean copy leading to conversions. It might mean increasing social media interactions. It might mean writing engaging content that the client's readers can't help but comment on.
When you launch a blog, write marketing copy, or anything else for your own business, you do so with your business goals in mind. You know your market. You understand what they want. You understand what problems they have and how your writing can help them solve those problems. And you do your best to give your readers what they want.
Think of client projects in the same way and you'll not only have happier clients but, if you're writing bylined content, you'll also connect to more readers who might follow you elsewhere.
3. Don't always wait to be asked.
One of the biggest ways I treat my clients' businesses like my own is by speaking up when I have something to suggest.
If I see a problem with their website, I bring it to their attention. If I think something could be improved, I'm not shy about suggesting changes (within my specialty areas). If I think they're missing out on an important opportunity (like failing to plan a media relations campaign when they have major industry news coming up), I explain why it would be a good idea, and I usually get myself hired for the job.
You can't wait around for clients to ask you for your opinions. Some don't realize that a freelance writer can bring valuable advice to the table, so they'll never ask. Some don't see the potential problems staring them in the face because they're distracted by other things. Others don't know the questions they should be asking.
Step in. Step up. And make yourself a more valuable member of the team by helping clients take advantage of the same kinds of opportunities that you would take in your business.
In what ways do you (or could you) treat your freelance writing clients' businesses more like you would treat your own? Do you have the confidence to do this, or would be too worried about offending a client?