New Clients Take Time

Scotch*Disclaimer – I’m writing this late in the evening and after drinking a larger than normal glass of delicious single malt scotch (yes, the picture is of my drink).  You’ll have to forgive any poor grammar, spelling or flow of the post!

I just landed a new client who, if everything works out, will most likely be one of my best and most profitable customers to date.  They contacted me due to a recommendation from an existing client, and needed some articles written quickly because their old writer wasn’t working out.  Naturally, I adjusted my schedule to make sure I could get them the content they needed as quickly as possible because I wanted to get this relationship off on the right foot.

After reviewing the first couple articles, they sent them back with some constructive criticism on how I could improve them.  This is what gave me the idea for this article.  I know some people would have taken this as a negative thing, and gotten upset that they had to make significant edits and changes to the article, while still working within the tight deadline.  While this is obviously not the ideal scenario, it is important to keep in mind that new clients almost always take a little extra work at first.

Every client is looking for something a little different.  While they are hiring you for your writing skills, they still want their websites to retain the ‘feel’ of their voice.  With that in mind, a good writer should always plan on a little extra work for the first few articles that they write.  Learning the style of the client is often one of the most difficult parts of a freelance writer’s job, but it can really mean the difference between success and failure as a freelancer.

Communication is Everything

When starting out with a new client, I almost always try to explain to them that it will take a little time and effort to build this relationship.  I ask them for blunt honesty in what they think of my writing, and to always let me know when they aren’t satisfied with something.  In the vast majority of cases (like the one I’m working through right now) it isn’t that they think I am a bad writer, but that they are looking for something different.

My current clients are looking for something a little edgier, wittier and with more personality than I initially wrote for them.  I’m more than happy to implement this into the writing, and when they gave me the guidance, I got to work right away updating the articles.  While I could have taken offense, I knew that this was all part of the freelance writers job.  Not only do I have to write high quality content, but I have to write it in the ‘voice’ that my client needs.

After sending them the updated articles, I sent them a quick ‘thank you’ email expressing my gratitude that they sent me their honest feedback and allowed me to make adjustments.  While I certainly didn’t want to spend the extra time changing the writing, I knew that this was an investment into a potentially long term relationship that could make me thousands of dollars.

While I could ramble on about the importance of getting the first few days/weeks of a new client relationship right, I’ll just sum it up by saying that it is absolutely essential to invest the necessary time and energy up front in order to keep clients for the long term.  You’ll be happy you have a great long term private client, and the client will be happy that you took the time to truly understand their needs so that they can confidently work with you for years to come.

Now wish me luck that this new client of mine will be happy with my work!

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  1. says

    You speak the truth, Michael! All clients bring their own frame of reference, style preferences, and expectations to the table. Like you, I let clients know they should be honest and not hold back from asking for tweaks – it’s part of the process! If I gather enough information from them upfront, the need for changes will be either non-existent or minimal, but I always factor some time into my schedule for revisions.

    As you said, constructive criticism shouldn’t be taken personally. Though we might feel an initial pang of failure if what we’ve created doesn’t measure up the first time around, it’s important to get beyond that and recognize it’s not a reflection of our value or talent.

    Thanks for the good read!

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words! I think taking the time to build that initial relationship with a new client is often overlooked by writers, and it makes it much more difficult to retain good clients!


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