Clients’ psychology is something all freelancers should tattoo on their brain cells. Knowing how clients think and what they expect is what separates men from boys in this industry.
While some freelancers can go for months without getting a client, others have more work than they can handle because they know what it takes to make clients hire you. So, what’s the secret?
Let me walk you through the things you need to do to open the floodgates of freelance work whether you are a writer, web designer, programmer or virtual assistant.
1. Quality is king
High quality will attract more clients and work our way. Low quality will send clients running away from you.
And what exactly does quality work mean?
- Quality work is the type of work that impresses the client and their audience.
- It is the type of article that readers would want to share on social media and talk about in parties.
- It is the type of blog post that gives tremendous value to the readers.
- It is the kind of web design that makes readers bookmark a website because they find it immaculate.
- It is the type of app (for programmers) that improves the user experience and leaves all users grinning like a cat that has swallowed a snake. Seriously.
For freelance writers, quality means creating content that is:
- flawless (without typos and grammar errors)
- accurate in facts (add in some statistics/data backed facts from authoritative sources to validate your facts)
- well-written with short and solid paragraphs that connect to each other yet each has a single idea.
- useful and valuable to the reader (let it be beneficial and help the readers solve a problem)
- easy to read and understand (don’t write like a stilted professor with jargon that will turn off readers)
- well-edited and proofread to make the words dance and dazzle
- well-optimized for search engines
If your samples reflect the elements mentioned above of quality, you will make clients hire you without much ado. If you do their first project and make its quality stand out, they will think of you first and hire you for the next project.
And that’s not enough; they will tell their friends about you. Most of the clients I have worked with for years, I didn’t look for them. My previous clients referred them to me.
High-quality work will market you.
2. Offer to post the content for the client
The client may have hired you only to write their content and submit it to them. But that is what other freelancers would offer to do as well.
So, what will make you different? Go an extra mile and tell the client that you will publish the content for them on their site.
This tells the client two amazing things about you:
- you want to save their time
- you have an extra skill (Working with WordPress)
I have won freelance projects this way when numerous other freelancers had applied for the same project.
Like I had shared in a previous post, always add a new skill to your portfolio and you will be a perfect fit for many opportunities.
3. Be in charge
For the most part, clients will hire you because you are the expert and know the right thing to do. That said, you should exude confidence, professionalism and expertise from the outset.
If the client wants a home page, for example, and wants it in 150 words, you need to correct this and let them know that a home page should be at least 250 words and at most 500 words.
I know of a writer whom a client gave a project to create some blog posts for his new website based on an ebook. The client had added the ebook on the website as a free report that subscribers can download.
The writer checked the ebook and noticed so many parts of it were copy-pasted from the internet which may cause copyright issues. When the writer informed the client, he saw the sense and asked the writer to rephrase the ebook. This became another project for the writer as well.
As you can see, being in charge is a plus. It makes clients develop confidence and trust in you because they know you are an expert. They will hardly play you too because you are obviously too informed about your stuff and they will not want to lose you as well.
Therefore, take charge of the project. Ask for questions and clarifications. Go to the client’s website and see what needs to be changed then point it out to them. Educate them on areas you think they need to know with regards to the project.
It will make clients hire you. They will also value, respect and re-hire you. Trust me.
4. Speak in their voice
Their first thing to do when clients hire you is to check out their website for previous posts. You don’t want to miss a thing and so, you should be meticulous to know the type of posts they prefer, the writing voice their audience like the headline formulas they use most and so on.
Everyone has their own writing style and voice, but you need to be flexible to adopt what a client prefers. Starting up as a blog writer, I was used to formal writing where you can’t use idioms, colloquial expressions or incorporate humor. I met an American client and thought my writing style could apply universally.
While she didn’t have any problem with my first draft, she had a problem with the style; it was a bit too serious. So, I had to tweak it to a more informal one, and she gladly accepted that.
Well, you don’t need a client to remind you to adopt a certain writing tone. Exercise due diligence and figure it out from their website or any samples sites they give you to refer to. You can even tell the voice they prefer from your initial communication or chat with the client.
Just remember you need to do work that reflects the client’s expectations and that of his audience. So, there is no one-size-fits-all kind of approach here. It’s rather a perfect style that you need to customize for the needs of each client.
For example, when writing for an Australian audience, don’t use the word ‘vendor’ but rather ‘shop.’ Similarly, while the word ‘vacation’ works well for the American audience, you can’t use it for the UK audience. You should use ‘holiday’ for the latter.
5. Exceed the minimal requirements
Underpromise then overdeliver. You will rock. How do you achieve this?
Here is an example; recently, a client on Upwork wanted me to proofread his document of about 1100 words. So, I submitted a proposal, and I noticed we were at least 40 people in this race.
The client wanted this done in 48 hours but in my proposal, I promised to complete it within 12 hours, and I placed a higher bid than the client’s budget. Interestingly, he awarded me the contract, but here is the deal: I completed it within one hour.
What I have come to realize is that clients would prefer contractors who can complete their work within a shorter time. It shows you are fast, excellent and skillful.
However, just remember to assess the project’s scope before promising to complete within a specified timeframe. The worst you can do is to overpromise then underdeliver. By this I mean, promising to complete something within 24 hours then you complete after 48 hours. No one will take you seriously.
If a project requires 300 words each, do not just hit the 300-word mark. Go slightly beyond that, to somewhere between 350 and 400 words.
Another thing: if your client says you should keep the word count between 500 and 700 words, why not make it 700 words? Bigger is always good when it comes to online content. I know that may sound like much work, but we are talking about going an extra mile so you can stand out from the crowd and make clients hire you quickly.
6. Build relationships
There is a difference between a freelancer who simply works and submits and one that goes slightly beyond that to create a rapport with clients.
And I don’t mean going overboard with this. There are many creative ways to build relationships with your clients without sounding like a douche.
You can connect with them on social media and like/comment on their Facebook posts or retweet their tweets. You can also share a bit about how your day and theirs was, wish them a nice weekend/evening, etc. If you communicate on Skype, and it’s the client’s birthday (Skype always shows this for your contacts), take a minute and send them a happy birthday message.
I was talking to another client on Skype, but there was a connection problem from my end. We began talking about the issue and soon we were talking about problems with my government compared to his.
Don’t just focus on work, deadlines, invoices, emails and the likes. Focus on building relationships with clients. It makes you stand out as a human, friendly and interesting person to work with. Not someone who’s always giving clients a headache. Even if the client doesn’t have more work for you, he will recommend you to someone else.
7. Understand the client’s problems
Clients are human, and that means they face some challenges like anyone else. Given the day-to-day challenges of running a business, most clients may delay to send you work as agreed. Some may even fail to pay on time.
Different countries have different holidays, and you need to be conversant with your client’s calendar, so you know when they are on holiday and not email them at such a time. I have also learned that when clients are traveling or to other countries for a seminar and such stuff, they may take some time to get back to you because they are obviously busy.
You will need to be patient in such instances. Most freelancers can get impatient at this point and act n a manner that may cause the client to cancel the contract.
I have experienced a situation where a client delays to make payments simply because they are revamping their site which obviously requires their attention and possibly an extra budget. Just keep such things in mind if you ever wish to make clients hire you or work with them for over a year.
8. Write awesome guest posts
Did you know the hidden treasure of guest posting? Getting published on other sites is not only good for getting quality backlinks to your site. It also increases your perceived value as a writer.
Clients would want to know whether your name is published on other well-ranking sites. And you can’t get published on such sites by accident. You need to search for sites that accept guest posts and offer to write for them for free although some sites pay for guest posts.
Go for the sites with a higher page rank and send them a pitch idea. If they accept it, send them a complete article plus your author bio. You will benefit in a couple of ways:
- Potential clients will notice you quickly, especially if you wrote an interesting and engaging article.
- If you have a blog, you will receive backlinks and traffic back to your site which can improve your search engine rankings.
- Among people coming to read your guest post are potential freelance writing clients
- Your guest post will remain online for many years to come, and that’s how you will end up getting an endless supply of clients.
Here’s the secret about guest posting: Guest post on sites where you are certain potential clients love to read. If they find your content interesting, they will check your author bio which may have a link to your site where you have possibly stated that you are a writer for hire.
9. Have an active social media presence to make clients hire you
When you reach out to them requesting for work, serious clients will first type your name in Google search to see whether you appear anywhere online including on social media, and especially on LinkedIn.
So, you need to have a robust LinkedIn profile showcasing your skills, experience and much more. This one alone can earn you loads of freelance work. They may check your Facebook as well.
So, now you know why you should stop sharing videos of cats dancing, and start posting and sharing serious posts on social media.
There are 1001 clients out there waiting to hire you. But they are not going to come knocking on your door with work. You need to position yourself to become a client magnet.
You need to produce quality work that will suck out people’s eyeballs from their skulls. You need to go beyond the project a client assigned you and to go slightly above average freelancing. Remember to stay in charge throughout the project and also understand your client’s problems.
Have a blog showcasing your portfolio and write guest posts for other sites in your niche. This is a sure-fire way to make clients hire you and build a lasting freelancing career.