Ever wonder why some freelance writers are constantly landing better, more lucrative work … while others constantly struggle to pay the bills?
Too often, this discrepancy has little to do with their line of work, track record of results, or how long they’ve been freelancing (although all of those factors are, indeed, important).
It’s also not always about talent. Or where they live. Or just plain luck.
Frankly, it’s about how easy they are to work with.
Everything else being equal, the writer who’s the most pleasant, professional, and a real joy to work with will land (and keep!) the client. He or she will also get more referrals and get invited to more opportunities.
How can you become easier to work with? Here are four tips I’ve gathered from studying the behavior of successful freelancers:
#1: Act Professionally at All Times. B2B clients expect a certain level of professionalism from the people and businesses they work with. They expect clear and professional communications from their vendors and freelancers. They expect to be kept abreast of their progress on a project. They want to deal with people who are pleasant, both in person and on the phone. And they want to work with folks who have a cheerful can-do attitude.
#2: Do What You Say You’ll Do. Similarly, clients want to work with freelancers who don’t require babysitting and constant handholding. As a freelancer, this means meeting all your deadlines … and ALWAYS doing what you say you’ll do. Of course, this also means you’ll have to set the right expectations on every project. But once you make a commitment, you must keep it. Plain and simple.
#3: Be Flexible. The project plan will not always be perfect. You might be a bit delayed because someone in the client’s office is unreachable. A certain phase might get pushed back. Or the scope might change considerably after the project has begun.
Those things happen. That’s why you need to be very clear in your contract about how you’ll handle such contingencies. However, the difference between average and top-earning freelancers is that the true professional will take all factors into consideration and always come up with a creative win-win situation rather than complain or threaten the client.
#4: Take an Active Interest in Clients’ Businesses. I love my B2B clients. And because of that, I take an active and sincere interest in their businesses. I want to learn more about what they do and why they’re better than their competitors. I also enjoy getting to know their people, history, culture, goals, and strategic plans.
Not long ago, I was talking casually with a client about some of the big accounts he and his company were trying to land that year. As I listened to him, I realized that I personally knew someone who was an 18-year executive in one of those target companies.
So, I called up my friend and set up a conference call. In that call, my friend was able to provide my client with invaluable insight into the target company (including the names of some key decision makers). Needless to say, my client was very appreciative of this gesture. They recognized that I had gone above and beyond for them.
Guess who they kept calling for writing and copywriting work? 😉
Yes, working on your skills, certifications, and other such factors is important. But, I truly believe that what clients really want is to hire competent professionals who are easy to work with.
If you’re unsure how your clients would rate you in this department, start working on becoming the consummate professional. You’ll soon notice a big difference in the quality of clients you attract … and in your pocketbook!