The freelance market is booming. Fifty-five million people (or 35 percent of the total U.S. workforce) are freelancers, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. But finding freelance work is still a challenge.
Talented young freelancers are eager to work on projects they love, but they often starve before they land a gig. Even when a freelancer gets a client — after days or weeks of hunting in freelance marketplaces, job boards, and social media platforms — the client disappears, as if they’re unhappy with the contractor’s work, never to return. Thus, the freelancer goes back to the jungle, weak and weary, searching for another client.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to retain high-paying clients, rather than always being on the search for new ones? This article walks you through the three simple hacks for retaining high-paying clients.
Let’s look at each hack more closely.
1. Offer 10x the value of your services
Good clients don’t pay peanut prices, and they don’t stick with you for that, either.
They pay for value. If you want clients to stick with you and not your competitor, then you need to offer them massive value. Make your value so great that they can’t ignore you.
Offering value is all about crafting high quality work for your clients. This work should clearly solve their problems, place them above their competitors, and position them atop their industry.
If you want to retain your high-paying clients, then you need to offer them 10x the value of your services. You might say, “That’s too much!” But, in the sea of qualified professional freelancers, you can only dominate in your niche by offering valuable services.
Brand yourself as the No. 1 expert in your industry, and they will come back again and again. If your competitor charges $100 for a simple 1,000-word article, for example, then charge the same amount but beat them on quality of service. Make the 1,000-word piece highly qualitative by adding:
- Practical examples
- Data and statistics
- Emotional stories
Simply put, exceed your client’s expectations. To do this, you need to understand your client’s pain points and desires. The extra value you add should be directly related to your client’s needs. In other words, you need to maintain steady communication.
Let’s talk about that next.
2. Maintain steady communication
Providing massive value for your clients requires clear communication.
As an independent contractor, you need to speak less and listen more when engaging with a client. This will help you better understand your client’s problems and identify the kinds of services that will best solve them. Focus your discussions on asking questions that will clarify your client’s needs.
Another important thing about maintaining steady communication is that it keeps your clients up to date. In rare cases where you anticipate beforehand that you can’t meet your deadline, communicate that to your client. Life happens.
If an illness or other unforeseen circumstances occur, send an e-mail stating why you can’t deliver the project on time.
You could write the email along these lines:
Subject: Request for deadline extension
Hello [Client’s name],
I’ve just noticed that I can’t finish your project as promised due to [state your reason(s) using neutral phrases such as family emergency, illness, or equipment failure].
Would you kindly add another 24 hours to my projected deadline?
Thanks for your understanding.
[Sign your name].
Of course, you don’t want to make this letdown a habit. It should be rare. Otherwise, your client will throw you off a moving train and never look back.
You also need to maintain a friendly relationship with your client, for it smooths any friction that may arise between you and your client in the future.
Read on for more on that.
3. Maintain a friendly relationship
Running a business is full of challenges. A glitch here and there, failure to deliver, broken products, or poor services. Any of these may set a client’s emotions on fire.
It is no surprise that 68 percent of customers leave because they’re unhappy with the service they receive. One of the most important hacks you can use to get and retain high-paying clients is to build and maintain a friendly relationship with them.
To do this, you need to do the following:
- Build trust by providing quality services. Trust increases customer loyalty by 51%, commitment by 38%, and customer repurchase intention by 29%, according to a study by the African Journal of Business Management. The easiest way to build trust is to consistently deliver quality work to your clients.
- Be personable when communicating with your clients. Your clients are human, and they want you to communicate like a real human being. To be human, you need to be personable in all of your communications with your clients. Call them by their names. Use the first person pronoun. Be open. Let them feel at ease when engaging with you.
- Build a more personal relationship on social media platforms. Almost everyone uses social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — to connect, socialize, or promote their business. Be sure to join your client’s favorite platform to take your relationship to the next level.
Good relationship lubricates business deals. If you can build that stronger relationship with your high-paying clients, they will contact you for repeat business often.
Getting and retaining high-paying clients is every freelancer’s dream, especially in today’s overpopulated freelance industry. And, although retaining high-paying clients seems too difficult, doing these three simple hacks will work wonders for you.
1. Exceed your clients’ expectations by offering them great service.
2. Communicate clearly with your clients to serve them better.
3. Maintain a friendly relationship with your clients so they enjoy working with you.
Repeat work from high-paying clients equals more work, better pay, and better business. So get to work. Your gigs are waiting for you.