If you want to demand good rates you need to back that up with quality work — in every sense of the word.
To put it another way, if you want to become a truly successful freelance blogger, not only do you need to produce good work, you also need to be a joy to work with. It will have a direct and positive impact on your rate.
When you take on a client you should be aiming to establish a solid long-term relationship. The more long-term clients you have, the less time you have to take prospecting, which means you have more hours in the day to do billable work. When you’ve secured a great rate with a good client, you don’t want to lose it. Moreover, if you do great work and please the client you are powerfully positioned in the future to negotiate an even higher rate.
With the above in mind, you should seek to provide a superb overall experience to each of your clients — not only in terms of the quality of your work but also in how you communicate and manage their requirements. In a world of unreliable and unprofessional freelancers, your reliability and professionalism can really set you apart.
Let’s take a look at the key elements (beyond the quality of your writing) of providing a great service to your client.
Know Your Client
You should be keeping track of the content that is published on every single one of your client’s blogs. There are two reasons for this:
- To become familiar with the subject matter they tackle (presuming that you are not the sole author)
- To ensure that you do not duplicate existing posts
It also doesn’t do any harm to share clients’ posts (not just ones written by you) via your social media networks if they are relevant to your followers. This is a nice touch that may be picked up on (and appreciated) by your clients. Not only that, but if you have a considerable social media following it will be another string to your bow (not only do you write great content, you can also drive traffic to the blog).
Always Meet Deadlines
One of the most important things to remember as a freelance bloggers is that should offer a solution, not a problem. Someone who doesn’t meet deadlines is a problem.
Not only can missing the deadline itself be a burden on the client, but as a result they are likely to form all sorts of judgments about you. You do not want to be known as someone who is unreliable or flakey and you certainly don’t want to be known as someone whose word cannot be trusted.
I have one simple rule when it comes to setting deadlines: allow yourself more than enough time to complete the work. It sounds simple but it seemingly flies over a lot of freelancer’s heads. If you think a job will take you three hours, allow four.
Furthermore, work within the client’s expectations — if you think you can finish a job by Monday but they won’t need it until Thursday, alleviate any potential pressure and set Wednesday as your deadline.
Take the Initiative
If you are confident in your abilities, don’t be afraid to take the initiative. A good writer is one that gets the work done with a minimum of fuss — a great writer is one that brings more to the table than the client expected. Doing so can ultimately result in more work for you.
Taking the initiative can work in a number of ways. Say for instance you are writing for a client and you notice that their blog is lacking any social sharing buttons. You could take the initiative and explain to the client that you feel the addition of social sharing buttons would boost the number of shares per post.
Although you may be hired as a writer, the longevity of your contract with any client is predicated upon how much income your posts generate. The quality of your writing is just one factor involved in that outcome, so you may reasonably choose to keep an eye on other factors to see if there are improvements that can be made.
When you take the initiative in this fashion you may find that the client chooses to expand your role in order to help with other elements of their content marketing strategy. This can be your first step in becoming more than just a freelance blogger.
Having said all of the above, you should be careful in deciding when to take the initiative. You don’t want your client to feel that you are sticking your nose in where it isn’t needed. Be mindful of your client’s attitude towards your feedback and only take the initiative if you feel that your client will be appreciative of it and respond in a manner that benefits you.
If you are able to stretch (within reasonable bounds) to meet a client’s needs, they are not likely to forget it in a hurry. Flexibility can take many different forms — it can be a deadline being pushed forwards or a Skype call at an unsociable hour. But if you can demonstrate that you are willing to work with the client to meet their needs it will only boost your standing in their eyes.
There is of course a point at which a client’s demands become unreasonable and you must have no qualms in firmly (but politely) letting them know where your boundaries lie. However, if you are working with quality clients you won’t have to worry about them taking advantage and you will find that they are appreciative of you taking steps to accommodate them.
If you want to gain a positive reputation you should always be looking at where you can over deliver on the work you have been tasked with. Doing so can take many forms — you could submit work ahead of time or you could always respond to emails in a prompt fashion.
When seeking to over deliver always be wary of the potential for scope creep. If you consistently over deliver, what was once a pleasant bonus will become the expected norm. If you can comfortably sustain such a level of service that is not an issue, but it is something to keep in mind.
I’ll be frank about this: never try to screw your client. If they overpay you by accident, inform them. If you feel that you can cut corners on a job and get away with it, don’t. Your reputation will become one of your most important assets so don’t throw it away in a moment of weakness.
If you don’t quite fulfill the client’s needs, it is not necessarily a sign that you are a bad writer. It can sometimes take time to fully understand what they want and the best way to find out is to seek feedback.
Many clients will not voice their opinion if they feel you are not doing a top-notch job. If you’re doing a satisfactory job they may well just settle. But you don’t want clients that consider your work merely satisfactory — you want to blow them away. So take the initiative and seek feedback on the quality of your work. Your client will be impressed by your eagerness to deliver a quality service and you will learn more about their needs.
All good things must come to an end (as must bad things). There is but one simple lesson to be taught when it comes to parting ways with a client: no matter the circumstances, always deal with the situation in an amicable fashion.
This is where communication via email can be of benefit. Although it is somewhat difficult to convey emotion in writing, a non-instant form of communication allows you to carefully consider the way in which you choose to portray yourself.
Absolutely no good will come out of burning bridges with a client, even if the working relationship was a poor one. Even in a situation where you feel that the client will have no bearing on your reputation or your future career, always remain professional. Remember: you’re running a business, so professionalism is a necessity, not an option.