Once you have started working as a freelancer or service provider, it is important to maintain a list of contacts and clients in order to nurture those relationships and hopefully get a steady stream of work from them.
New projects are great because they offer you the chance to work with new people. However, don’t underestimate the value of current and also past clients who might be willing to offer you regular projects that will keep your business ticking over.
Marketing yourself can take up a lot of time. So can applying for new jobs at freelance marketplace websites and so on. It can also be really frustrating if you do your best to write wonderful proposals but are not getting any work.
Even if you do get gigs, they might only last for a short amount of time, meaning that you still have to continue looking for new jobs while you are working on your current jobs. This soon becomes a tricky juggling act unless you’re organized.
Happy Clients Is Your Best Marketer
A lot of business owners make the mistake of focusing on potential clients so much that they forget about, and neglect, their current and past clients. This can be a big mistake! Past clients who are happy are your best resources for word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations. Don’t feel shy about asking them for a testimonial or reference in relation to your work.
In terms of current clients, you need to impress them with how professional and efficient you are. Producing your best work even under tight deadlines is what being a good freelancer or service provider is all about. Communicate clearly, be friendly but respectful, and you could end up with regular clients who really appreciate what you do.
The Pareto principle says that 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. It is easier to convince someone of your value when they have already used your services (if you have done a good job) than to try to convince total strangers to give you a try.
Using a CRM to Manage Clients
This might sound overkill, but using a CRM to keep track of your clients is a great way to be able to focus on your work. There are quite a lot of easy and free CRM systems available online, like HubSpot. Personally, I use Odoo which is more of an ERP than CRM.
When working with so many clients, it can be easy to forget to update your portfolio to show off your best work, but that will be exactly what prospective clients want to see. At your portfolio site, you should have all your contact information and links to your best examples of the work that you provide – such as articles, website design, and so forth. Each item should have a title, and a hyperlink to that item so they can see all you have to offer. Put this URL on all your marketing material.
One of the easiest ways to keep in touch with past, present, and future clients is to maintain email marketing lists. A service like AWeber.com allows you to create up to 1000 lists in your account, so you should have no trouble being able to create three separate lists to nurture these different relationships.
For past and current clients, you could send out a newsletter once a month with some valuable niche-related content and any new services you might have added to your business. Link to your portfolio. Treat them like they are special (which of course they are), and consider offering them discounts and coupons, or special service packages that bundle your offerings. For example, you might be a virtual assistant who specializes in WordPress. Consider offering niche-related content for their site as well as your uploading and scheduling work.
For prospective customers, get them on your list first by offering them a useful free item related to your niche. It could be a checklist, cheat sheet, or another item that shows you are something of an expert and can help clients work smarter, not harder. Then send them more details about the services you provide.
By nurturing your current and past clients as well as looking for new ones, you will get more business with less effort.