Self-employed editors and writers appreciate repeat clients and referrals. The more we are known and visible, the easier it is to have client prospects. Referrals come to us through past relationships, the quality of our work and our online presence. Relationships work best when we take a genuine interest in our clients’ work and listen intently to their goals.
Here are some ideas to help you increase referrals:
Do quality work
Exceed clients’ expectations whenever possible (value for money, speed, accuracy, quality of email communication or responsiveness).
Listen to your clients
Put your clients’ goals at the centre of your practice and acknowledge any challenges they have. Everyone’s writing challenges are different, but they are equally significant. Clients accept editorial feedback more willingly once they have been fully heard.
Ask informed, genuine questions early on
Taking interest in your clients’ work and specializations will help you collect useful information and build a better rapport. The information you collect before starting a project can help you calculate estimates, assess deadlines, recommend other colleagues or prepare better for editing.
Offer positive feedback
Point out the passages that work for you as a reader. An editor may be one of the author’s first readers. At this stage, the author may still have doubts about their text.
Be the person who appreciates their work and tells them why. Consider naming, in specific terms, at least one strength per page or on every other page. Positive feedback from an editor reinforces a writer’s skills and boosts their inspiration to continue writing.
Create a newsletter
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage your audience because the people who have subscribed probably already know, like and trust you — and want to see your updates in their mailbox. A newsletter is not for frequent, sales-pitchy messages. Come up with an original way to be useful based on what you know about your client groups.
If applicable, offer a free add-on service
Have you ever needed to thank a returning client for their loyalty or patience (for example, if you needed more time to deliver their project)? Consider giving your client a brief add-on document for free. This can be a template, a worksheet, a list of resources for self-editing or anything they could find useful in their writing practice.
Ask past clients for introductions to their networks
This is usually done at the end of the project when you send your final email, perhaps with a survey link or any other process you have to complete the order.
Ask for recommendations
If you don’t ask, chances are you won’t get as many as you may have liked. Find a way to incorporate this request into your final email to clients, upon order completion. If clients find you on LinkedIn, having recent recommendations on your profile can be a great way to turn prospects into clients.
Offer free introductory phone consultations
These are a great way to get to know your clients, assess their goals and position yourself as an approachable, empathetic and efficient professional. This is also a great way to assess if a client is a good fit and provide value at the same time. Someone who cannot hire you now may choose to do so later or send you a referral based on the helpfulness of that short call.
Share content that adds value for clients
Post consistently on social media based on your client needs and frequently asked questions. Ask clients what topics they would like to learn about or gauge these topics using your experience.
Build relationships with colleagues
We all have different specializations and may send an occasional client to a colleague who is better prepared to help them. Association memberships, professional Facebook groups and industry conferences are great ways to connect and learn about each other.
Whether you are just starting out or have built a successful freelance practice, being mindful of the quality of your client relationships will help you build referral-worthy behaviours. Economic conditions and work processes may fluctuate — a service provider who treats their clients consistently well will always be in demand.
Previous post from Tanya Mykhaylychenko: How to Offer Your Authors Positive Feedback
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