I'm going to let you in on a little freelance secret: your very best clients are your past clients. Past clients will return to work with you again and again, and send new business your way.
In fact, 80% of my own new business comes from referrals via past clients.
But in order to get those referrals coming in, you have to have happy past clients (because no one is going to refer you if they didn't like working with you!). In the past few years of running my business, I've learned there are a few simple things you can do to make clients fall in love with you.
Let clients know what to expect upfront
When clients know what to expect, they feel confident in their decision to hire you, the process of the project, and where their money is going. This makes them happy and prevents unwelcome surprises for both of you throughout the project.
You can outline a simple welcome packet (PDF) with details like your office hours, when and how they can contact you, estimated timeline for the project, and what you'll need from the client at each stage. When everyone's on the same page, everyone's happy.
Keep clients informed
You'd be amazed at how a weekly Skype call or email outlining what's been done in the past week can make clients jump for joy. You'd also be amazed at how few freelancers do this. The number one complaint I hear from clients who have worked with other freelancers is that there was no communication and they didn't know what was going on. Schedule time in at the end of each week to either have a quick chat or send a summary email--your clients will love it!
We all hope there are no mistakes on our projects--but they happen! Owning up to them and doing what you can to make them right goes a LONG way.
After you've had your freak-out moment where you realized you screwed up, sit down, and brainstorm ways to fix the problem. Can't fix it? Offer a discount, additional service, or gift to make it right.
Send a thank you
After completing a project, nothing says you appreciate a client's business like a thank you. This can be as simple as a handwritten thank you card, or as fancy as a gift you know the client would love. This personal touch really makes clients feel special, and can be a really fun part of your business! I love stalking clients' Pinterest boards for gift ideas and surprising them with items off their wishlist.
Follow up afterwards
When the project ends, don't say goodbye! While it can vary by industry, I recommend following up with clients approximately a month after project completion to see how they are getting along. If they have a new website, are they able to update it easily? If they have new sales page copy, is it converting to more sales? Whatever your industry, reaching out and checking in on clients will show them that you really care.
By letting clients know what to expect throughout the project, keeping them informed of the progress, owning up to mistakes, and ending with a thank you and follow-up, clients will recognize how much you care about their success and will fall in love with working with you! Happy clients lead to referrals, which lead to more business. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.