Repeat business is, in my opinion, the secret to a successful ghostwriting career. There are two reasons for this:
1. When you’re ghostwriting, you may find that you get fewer referrals since most clients don’t tell other professionals that they used your services.
2. With lengthier projects, you may not be able to take on as many clients at one time, meaning you have fewer eggs in your basket. Keeping those eggs happy and coming back for more becomes vital to maintaining a strong income.
Luckily, keeping clients happy is one of the simplest tasks you’ll have to face each day. While there are varying degrees of happy (from mildly pleased to ants-in-the-pants ecstatic) requiring varying degrees of effort, talent and skill, I want to focus on three very basic things you can do to increase your odds at repeat business.
- Be reliable. I was just talking to some business owners the other day about how hard it is to find reliable contractors. Your clients deal with that every day—freelance writers who say they will deliver X but instead deliver Y, and send it in late, covered in cookie crumbs. If you want to keep your clients happy and coming back for more, it often boils down to simply making sure that you always do what you say you will. If you have a tendency to over deliver, you’ll do even better.
- Be prompt. Client emailed you? Email them back the same day. Client needs to get something in time for a meeting? Set a deadline a couple of days before that (if possible). Client needs to talk on the phone? For the love of everything holy, do not be even a moment late for the appointment. If you’re rolling your eyes at these statements and wondering if I think I’m writing for children (because adults already know this stuff)—congratulations, you’re an outlier.
- Make each client feel like the only client you have. I didn’t actually know this was important until several clients told me that it was. It’s not hard to do, either. First, don’t talk to your clients about your other projects or project schedules. For example, if they need a deadline that you've already booked with another client, don't say, "Sorry, I'm working with another client that day." Instead, just say, "I'm not available for that day but I can do X instead." Next, be prompt and reliable. Oh, hey, look, I already said that. It’s like déjà vu or something. See? Easy.
It’s much easier to keep the clients you have than it is to get new ones. There is a cost associated with acquiring business, one that may be paid in time, opportunity or advertising cheddar. As a ghostwriter receiving no credit for the work you do and few (if any) referrals by clients who want to keep your contribution on the down-low, repeat business is a gift you can't afford to miss out on.
What kinds of things do you do to keep your clients coming back for more?