When I started freelancing I said yes to everyone. Even when I knew in my gut I shouldn’t say yes to a client, I did. I felt I needed the experience, money, testimonials, and portfolio example.
Today, I’m booked out 4 months in advance.
How did I do it?
By not dropping the ball when things got busy & impressing my clients with a streamlined process. That, along with good work of course, means I can stop worrying about where my next client comes from, because my past happy clients do the leg work for me (by referring me to others).
1 Get all the information you need about a project BEFORE starting, so you don’t have to bother your client with a million questions throughout. (with a thorough intake questionnaire & welcome package). This will save time and emails for both you and your client. Win Win.
2Answer all common questions that come up during a project in your Welcome Package or blog posts so you can easily direct your client to the answer (makes them feel like you know your stuff and are prepared). Plus, it makes it easy to come up with blog content.
3Delight them with a snail-mail card saying how excited you are to get started. They’ve handed over the deposit, but are likely still a little nervous about actually starting the work with you- this helps remove those butterflies.
4Automate your consult scheduling, invoicing, and contracts with online software so they don’t have to do any extra leg work to get you what you need. Ever had one of these convos? “I’m available anytime Thurs or Fri” “Great, how about Friday at 10am” “Oh, except for 10am, how about 2pm?”, “Can’t do Friday at 2pm, but Thursday yes”. (That’s 5 unnecessary emails!)
5Use project management software so everything is easily found in one place. Nothing worse than having to be reminded of a past conversation you forgot about and then not be able to find the details in your never-ending gmail threads.
6Do tutorial videos (or text) for anything that a client might have trouble with (setting up hosting, using your project management software, using social media scheduling). Make it as easy on them as possible to understand how you work and what you need from them.
7 Help your client with next steps after finishing working with you in your Goodbye Package. How can they hire you again? What commons things come up weeks and months after working with you that you can address right away? What other issues do you think they may have, that you have experience with? Answer those questions straight away or point them to people or resources that can help.
8Make room in your schedule to be available for questions/help after working with you. Yes, we hope that when a project is over, it’s over. But things inevitably come up. Be available, even after the project is complete.
9Follow-up. Check in with your clients after a week, a month, and six months. Ask them if any other questions came up or if there is anything you can help them with.
10Send them a meaningful thank you gift or card, in the mail. Everyone like to be thanked. And everyone likes surprises in the mail. The more creative the better.
Why is this important?
Getting a streamlined process in place to not drop the ball when things get crazy and in return get smashing testimonials, is key to maintaining a steady (and growing!) freelance business.
The first year of my business was quite slow, but since I put my process in place, I’ve gone from seeking out clients and wondering where the next one would come from, to them coming to me as referrals from past clients.
It isn’t just great work that gets you booked out from referrals.
What kind of referral would you prefer?
“Yeah I really like my website, this girl Leah did it”
“You have to hire Leah! She not only built me an amazing website, but she made the process so easy and fun. She may be booked out, but it’s well worth the wait.”