It's up to you to take charge of the relationship and settle your clients' fears. Be kind, be professional, and be reliable, and your clients will stay with you for years.
Here are three tips you can use to work effectively with your clients and keep them.
1. Please Realize That Every Client Is Different: Ask Questions
Every client you will ever have is different from every other, and has different expectations.
Never assume. Ask sufficient questions so that you and your client are on the same page before you start writing. Most conflicts with clients arise from miscommunication. Therefore, communicate!
I always advise my writing students to rewrite the client's brief (project description) in their own words, before asking the client to sign off on it.
Tip: few clients know exactly what they want. It's up to you to ferret out what they really expect from a project.
2. Be Pragmatic About Money: Invoice, and Get Paid
It will take you a while to get comfortable discussing money. That's OK. The more you do it, the more relaxed you'll become. The fees you charge are what they are. State them without comment or explanation.
Discuss fees early in the relationship. Tell the client what the full fee for the project will be, and how you'll be paid -- retainer, milestone payments, and so on.
Add this copyright advice to every invoice: "The copyright in the project devolves to you on payment in full."
Invoice regularly. On longer projects, invoice at least weekly. If an invoice is unpaid, stop writing.
3. Completed a Project? Ask Your Client What else He Needs
Consider your clients' needs, and think long-term with every client.
If you've just finished an article for a magazine, send along another couple of queries with the invoice.
If you've just written ten articles for a client, ask when the client will need additional content.
If you've just written a sales page for a copywriting client, ask whether the client would like you to write an autoresponder sequence.
Clients are busy. It takes time and energy to find a writer and brief him. Every client has multiple needs, but the pressure of running a business or publication means that he's likely to remember what other writing jobs he wants done after he's paid your final invoice.
Suggesting other projects to your clients is a kindness -- they appreciate your offers. Chances are if you propose an additional project, he'll suggest others.
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