To be successful as a marketing freelancer, you have to know how to keep your clients happy and engaged. That’s because happy clients are more likely to renew contracts, refer business to you, and buy more services or hours from you.
Rather than chase after leads, spend hours networking, or pay thousands for ads, you can reap the benefits of consistent clients simply by prioritizing their happiness. The question is: how do you do that?
This guide will give freelancers like you actionable tips on how to keep your clients happy and engaged throughout a project or working relationship. The result is more loyal clients, consistent income, and a sustainable business.
Why client happiness is good for business
Client loyalty is a freelancer’s bread and butter. Statistics show that 80% of a company’s revenues come from just 20% of its customers, which means a happy customer is a repeat customer.
And not just a repeat customer, but a bigger spender too! Studies have consistently shown that pleased customers will purchase more products or services. In return, they share their positive experiences with friends, family, coworkers, and others in their network.
This word-of-mouth marketing can expand your brand awareness and lead to new customers. It can also influence a current customer to continue working with you or to buy more services. This is why your client’s happiness doesn’t just lead to a better working relationship, it’s good for business.
8 things every freelancer should do to keep clients happy
While every client is different, there are a few universal principles you can follow. Let’s get into them.
1. Treat your working relationship like a partnership
It’s your job to know what your client does, who they help, and their goals for the project at hand. Without that, it’s a one-way relationship where no one wins.
For a freelancer-client relationship to be successful, you need to take time to get to know your client and their industry. It’s better to know more than not enough.
Every project you take on as a freelancer should start with a kickoff meeting that allows you to get to know your client better.
In this discovery meeting, you should be prepared to ask specific questions related to overall business strategy, short-term and long-term goals, timeline expectations, desired methods of communication, and existing team structure.
For help planning your client kickoff meeting, read How to Plan the Perfect Remote Kickoff Meeting With a New Client, an article written by Jessica Everitt for Wrike.
2. Exceed expectations
This goes back to delivering high-quality work and delivering work on time (or before) the deadline. Surprise and delight is the aim here!
A satisfied client is a happy client. What better way to satisfy them than by delivering exceptionally researched, strategic work before the deadline?
For help managing multiple client projects, read A Freelancer’s Guide to Managing Multiple Projects, an article written for Timely.
3. Share new insights and data openly
As a freelance marketer, it’s part of your job description to keep up with the trends. Maybe you’re subscribed to email digests or frequently read State of the Industry reports. Share them with your clients!
This will keep clients happy for 3 reasons:
- It shows them you’re actively learning about their industry and market
- They can see that they’re top of mind for you as a client
- They didn’t have to do the research themselves
Start your own newsletter that you can send to clients on a weekly or monthly basis. These emails can include links to the latest industry trends and data that your client will find useful. Include commentary and position yourself as someone who can help people understand how to act on the latest data and trends they learn about.
Use Substack to create an email newsletter for your clients.
4. Communicate effectively
What is effective communication? It means communicating frequently, asking for clarification when needed, and managing expectations professionally.
Frequent communication is important for client happiness because a client who’s in the loop knows what to expect (and when to expect it). This leads to less uncertainty, which in turn builds trust. Just remember: it takes more effort to rebuild a relationship than it does to maintain it.
5. Personalize their experience
Everyone loves an onboarding gift or a personalized message on their birthday or business anniversary. It’s these tiny touchpoints that can truly change the nature of your client relationship for the better.
Even though it’s not necessary, it will create a more positive experience for your client and therefore they will have more positive feelings toward you.
Send holiday gifts to your clients—it’s an easy way to show them your appreciation. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time on this. It could be as simple as a handwritten thank you card, a gift card with a small amount of money, or a basket of treats.
For gift ideas, read 13 Client Gifts to Wow Your Clients (and Get Repeat Business), an article written for Millo.
6. Keep your promises
When you say you will deliver a project to a client by a specific deadline, keep your promise. If your client knows they can expect things on or before the date you communicated, this builds trust and assurance. Those are important attributes for a positive client-freelancer relationship.
If you know you’re not going to make a previously agreed upon deadline, tell your client ahead of time. Give them enough time and notice to adjust plans accordingly on their end.
Need help managing timelines? Read 11 Tips to Hit Deadlines in Your Freelance Business, an article written for Indy.
7. Value your client’s feedback
Everyone likes to feel heard and understood. The same goes for your clients.
When you ask them for feedback, this gives them a chance to share their expertise, illuminate details about a topic or workflow only they would know, or offer a different perspective you may have missed. Not only do you gain valuable insight into the project at hand, but you also show your commitment to learning and providing high-quality work that your client loves.
Schedule time every quarter to meet and regroup with your client. This is your opportunity to get real feedback from them that you can use to improve yourself and your work over the next few months.
Need help asking for feedback? Read Asking Freelance Clients for Feedback: a 5-Step Growth Strategy, written for Bonsai.
8. Express gratitude for them
Don’t take your freelance clients for granted. They’re not just an ATM for your invoices; they have dreams and goals for their business like you do.
When you express gratitude for the fact that they bring you consistent work and are fun to work with, you build a stronger relationship. Likely, they will use this opportunity to express how grateful they are to work with you!
If you have the means to do so and your client is big enough, consider traveling to meet them in person once a year. Doing so will help you build a stronger relationship with your client, which can lead to renewed contracts and more work in the future.
Steps you can take to address unhappy clients
Even if you do everything right, there may be a time in your freelance career when a client will not be satisfied with you or the work you produce.
Here are 5 steps you can take to handle the conversation gracefully and walk away with a happier client at the end of the conversation:
- Actively listen to what they have to say
- Be empathetic
- Present a mutually beneficial solution
- Follow up
- Don’t take it personally
Client happiness isn’t rocket science, but it does produce stellar outcomes for you and your business. Keep these tips in mind for how to keep your clients happy and engaged as a freelance marketer and watch your business blast off!