$1 trillion. That’s the total freelancing income in 2019.
But earning this amount wouldn’t be possible if freelancers didn’t have repeat customers. While an accurate estimation of client loyalty is difficult, the value is definitely high.
Let’s take a look at some statistics:
- Loyal customers are valued 10x as much as their first purchase.
- 61% of SMBs found that repeat customers contributed more than half of the total revenue.
- Acquiring new customers is 5x costlier than retaining current ones.
With such stats, every freelancer should already have a winning strategy to retain their customers, right? Not necessarily.
You see, being a full-time freelancer has its own set of challenges, and building a sustainable customer base tops the list. Your clients need to be satisfied with your work and attitude, and your skillset should impress them enough that they don’t hesitate to hire you back.
Keep reading as we discuss the best ways you can build and improve your customer loyalty as a freelancer to boost your income and growth.
Always Maintain Active Communication
Active communication and customer loyalty go hand-in-hand. More so, if you want to build long-lasting and productive relationships.
Developing closer contact with clients will enable them to understand what you can deliver and how your services will help them achieve their business goals. We would recommend scheduling voice or video calls over emails for more hands-on and clear communication, which, in turn, will help you deliver better results.
Additionally, when you keep decision-makers in the loop, it’s unlikely for them to be dissatisfied with the end result. Regular updates can assure the proper alignment of expectations as well.
Deliver Quality Work Within the Deadline
Remember the golden rule: A satisfied client always returns.
As a freelancer, having diverse resources can help you manage your daily work, but it’s important to plan your tasks and manage time efficiently if you want to meet your deadlines. Try breaking larger tasks into small, manageable chunks, and attach milestone deadlines to every task.
This will allow you to be prepared for delays and remain well-organized to submit high-quality work. Make sure you give your full concentration and dedication to complete the task at hand effectively and excellently. And yes, never commit to a deadline you know you cannot meet.
Develop a More Proactive Approach
Even if freelancing is just a side hustle for you, don’t wait for the client to walk you through your work. Instead, be more proactive – anticipate forward and function independently. Use simple workflow software to document your processes so that you can scale, delivering great service for all clients. Give useful suggestions based on your experience and expertise where needed, and if you‘re ever in doubt, ask. Use a video editor to create and edit videos with ease.
When your customer sees you in action and function independently, it’s going to have a very positive impact on how they view you as a freelancer. They’ll know they have hired a true professional who knows how to do their job and do it best. Plus, they’ll have extra time to focus on other matters of their business.
Want to get more clients? A proactive approach works well, too. The key is to reach out to potential clients who may find your services beneficial. For example, it’s a good idea to use an email finder extension and get the contact information to pitch your freelance services and discuss the details via email.
Master the Art of Follow-Ups
Sending consistent and effective follow-ups is the most useful tactic for a freelancer to build a loyal customer base. But it’s also the trickiest.
Marketing and selling yourself may not necessarily synergize with the experience and expertise that you have as a freelancer. You might feel sending follow-ups may annoy your existing and potential clients or look pushy.
But there is also a chance that your email aroused an interest in them to work with you, but they forgot to reply because something else came up. Or maybe they passed over because they had to reply to other more urgent emails. Who knows? Follow-up emails serve as routine reminders to the clients, overcoming these obstacles.
Now, sending follow-up doesn’t mean spamming – provided you send follow-ups correctly. Work on your email’s subject line and copy making them actionable and friendly and choose a timing sequence that’s properly spaced out. You don’t need a fancy degree to learn marketing, becoming a marketing manager is easy.
Don’t Forget Your Past Clients
Staying in touch with your past clients is slightly different than sending follow-up emails. The idea here is to just be “there“ and remind them of you.
You can send emails wishing them on their birthdays, drop a Happy Christmas or Happy Thanksgiving text, or comment on their latest Facebook or LinkedIn post. You can also inform your past clients about your current work situation and projects and if you’re willing to take on more work.
Do not worry if you think that you will forget all this, because there are some great customer relationship management software solutions that can help you with collecting data about your clients and creating personalized approaches in your communication.
Even small, thoughtful gestures like subscribing to your client’s newsfeed, sharing their posts, or sending a handwritten note can make a positive impact. If you’ve successfully impressed them with your work ethic, they’ll obviously return to you whenever they need a freelancer.
Your past clients can also make perfect affiliate managers who work on promoting your brand and selling your products further for the given commission fee. If you want to dive deeper into affiliate marketing, you should consider getting affiliate software and build your processes around it.
Reward Customer Loyalty
Everybody loves receiving special treatment, including your customers. This is why when you offer them certain perks and incentives, they’ll come back to you. Plus, it’s also very cost-effective and doesn’t require effort.
You can offer your clients – current and past – discounts, fast turnarounds, unlimited revisions, and so on, to give them a little extra to their investment. For instance, you can put up a post on LinkedIn with a limited period discount. Doing this will also help you boost online engagement to drive sales by generating more leads.
Prioritize the Person and Not Prospect
Networking is incredibly important for freelancers since it allows you to learn more about your industry, human to human. Since we run a business, it’s natural for us to focus and prioritize winning clients. But this shouldn’t be our only priority.
Try to find common interests between you and your clients – whether it’s pets, travel, food, or kids. Knowing your client will help you make more effective pitches on a project, allowing you to turn a cold lead to a warm acquaintance and ultimately, a recurring client.
Provide Continuing Education When Possible
Thought leaders in any industry tend to have more trust from clients than other companies that aren’t publicly available. The reason? By proactively showcasing your expertise, it allows your clients to understand that you can be trusted and have a great understanding of the work you’re doing for them.
If you have the bandwidth to handle the workload, it’s a good idea to create a blog or start a YouTube channel for your freelancing business that answers common industry-related questions. Not only will this showcase your expertise to current clients, but it may help you recruit new clients as well.
I personally recommend a YouTube channel because there are so many ways to make money with it aside from simply supporting your freelance business.
Hope Isn’t a Strategy – Take Action!
Hoping your clients will come to you without any extra initiative on your part is unrealistic. You need to strategically market yourself, and hope isn’t a strategy.
Apply best practices we discussed above to create experiences for your clients that keep them satisfied and build long-term relationships. Show your customer you care, and watch them return to you, as well as refer you to their acquaintances, to help your freelancing business grow stronger.
About The Author
Raul Galera is the Partner Manager at ReferralCandy and CandyBar, two tools helping small and medium businesses run customer referral and loyalty programs. He’s been working in the tech sector for the past seven years and regularly writes about marketing, e-commerce, and tech.