Written by Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes
When I started freelancing a few years ago, I wasn’t sure where to start. Coming from working as a school administrator, I didn’t know the first thing about finding new clients. I didn’t know my way around the publication world. Determined, I attended conferences, read books and articles, sought expert advice, and took classes to develop my understanding of the business. Now I do very little traditional marketing. I’m fortunate to have consistent and loyal clients. Here are ten tips I’ve learned through my experiences for creating loyal clientele. Hopefully, they can help you too.
- Create a professional image: Remember that our appearance, website, and social media platforms represent who we are. These days it’s best to consider everything public, even our private pages. Our websites, business cards, and email signatures should establish our credibility. We should refrain from posting material deemed divisive. Our image should ooze inclusiveness and professionalism. When meeting clients virtually or in person, our image should reflect that we are professionals.
- Create goals: Studies conclude that successful people create, write, and revisit their goals. We should be specific regarding the type of projects and clients we’d like to work with. The more precise we are in setting goals, the more apt we are to achieve them.
- Network: When we intentionally develop genuine connections, the work will follow. Attending conferences, groups, and organizations intending to meet and connect with others without strings will attract clients who sense our authenticity.
- Work hard: We’ll usually do great work when we treat our client’s projects as ours. Nothing inspires repeat business and referrals like an excellent job.
- Be helpful: Sometimes, we have clients who need assistance outside the job we were hired to do. Often, it will pay dividends if we take the time to give more attention to helping them solve other problems.
- Exercise patience: Listening and handling clients patiently goes a long way in ensuring they feel cared for. Sometimes it takes our willingness to take the time to understand a client’s problems and needs thoroughly.
- Develop clear communication skills: Communicating clearly when working with clients is crucial because miscommunication can result in disappointment and frustration. Learn how to keep communication with clients simple, leaving nothing to doubt.
- Exercise resourcefulness and creativity: There will be times when clients need assistance with titles, tech support, marketing, brainstorming ideas, and many other things we might not cover. However, connecting them to the right professional shows that we care about their entire project, not just the portion we may be working on.
- Use positive language: Effective customer service means having the ability to make minor changes in our conversational patterns. This can go a long way in creating happy repeat customers. Language is a crucial part of persuasion, and clients create perceptions about us based on our language. Giving feedback and responding to questions with positive language can significantly affect how clients hear our responses.
- Develop time management skills: On the one hand, it’s good to be patient and spend a little extra time with clients to understand their problems and needs. On the other hand, the amount of time we can dedicate to each client is limited, so their needs must be met efficiently. Creating schedules for ourselves and our clients helps us manage our time and achieve our goals.
Excellent work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done are crucial when providing the kind of service people repeatedly desire. Increasing our knowledge about editing and running a business are great tools to develop a loyal clientele base. However, as editors who are servants of Christ, we can also radically impact our clients by serving them with agape love.
Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, EdD, is a writer/content editor. She works for Iron Stream Media as a book coach/editor. She’s a sensitivity reader for Sensitivity Between the Lines and an editor/contributor for Inkspirations. She is the board’s vice chair for the 540 Writers community. Her writing has been published in Guideposts.