Freelancers are always looking for new ways to attract clients and to land new projects. There are any number of ways to find new work, but the ideal situation involves not dedicating a lot of time or money in the search for projects. If you’ve been freelancing for a little while you should have a number of clients that you have done some work for in the past, and they can be a great source of new projects. Maybe they need a full website re-design, or maybe they need some related services that you could also provide.
An effective approach to client follow up will help you to stay in touch with those past clients, to keep them aware of the range of services that you offer, and to secure their business when their need arises for some type of work. And best of all, with an organized approach it doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly.
If you haven’t been making the most of follow up opportunities with past clients here are a few tips that will help you.
1. Keep Track of Contact with Past Clients
In order to be effective with your client follow up you will need a method to keep track of clients’ contact info and to record the dates and details of follow up. You could use a customer relationship management app like Highrise or Zoho CRM, which will help to organize your contacts and all relevant data. For freelancers or independent designers simply keeping an organized spreadsheet could do the trick.
Whatever works for you is the approach that you should take. The important thing is that you have all of your clients’ contact info organized and that you can easily see the details of your recent contact with them. This will help you to know when to reach out to them without going overboard and emailing them too much because of poor organization and record keeping.
2. Consider Starting a Newsletter
One effective way to stay in touch with your past, present, and future clients is to start a newsletter. It could be weekly, monthly, or just whenever you have something important to communicate. This way clients can opt in to receive the newsletter and you can quickly share important news or just keep your name in front of them.
Through your newsletter you could include case studies of particular client projects, link to articles about industry news, provide tips to help them get the most out of their website, and make announcements about your own services.
If you’re not sure what mailing list manager to use, I recommend MailChimp for ease of use and because it has all of the features you will need, and then some. MailChimp’s free plan allows you to manage a list of up to 2,000 subscribers, which is far more than freelancers will need to simply stay in touch with clients. Other leading options include AWeber, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor.
3. Send Personal Notes as Well
While newsletters can be very effective they do not replace the need for personal contact. Take the time to reach out to your past clients on an individual basis occasionally to check in and see if there is any way that you can help them. Most of your clients will have needs from time-to-time that you may be able to help with, and staying in touch through personal messages will help to keep you in the front of their minds for those times when they need services.
Your clients, like yourself, are busy and strapped for time, so keep emails brief for maximum impact. The keys are to let them know that you are thinking about them, interested in the success of their business, and willing to help if there is anything that they need.
4. Tell Past Clients About Your New Services
Most web designers start offering new services every now and them. One example would be if you recently started working on Facebook pages for businesses. Chances are you have several clients from the past that could really benefit from these services, but they probably don’t even know that you can help them in this way. So at times when you have something new to offer, be sure to send a quick note to your past clients to let them know about the new service.
Facebook pages is just one example. Other possibilities would include custom Twitter backgrounds, SEO services, social media marketing services, work with a new CMS or e-commerce platform, etc. Following up with past clients in this way is an easy way to land some new business if you’re offering services that are relevant to your clients, and it helps them by eliminating the need for them to find someone new to provide these services.
5. Use Follow Up When Your Workload is Low
Client follow up is most effective at times when your work with new clients is slow. If you’re swamped as it is you probably have no need for additional work from those past clients. But if you are in need of a few new projects it may be a great time to reach out to your past clients and see if there is anything that they need.
In general, following up with past clients is a more effective use of your time for picking up projects than browsing tons of freelance job boards or bidding sites.
6. Proactively Look for Opportunities to Help
Before you reach out to your past clients it is a good practice to look for ways that you may be able to help them. If you haven’t been to their website in a while take a visit and browse around.
Is it up-to-date? If not, you may be able to help them with some simple updates and maintenance.
Is it time for a re-design? If so, you could see if they would be interested in talking about the possibility of re-designing.
Do they have social media profiles linked from their website? Could they use help setting up or maintaining profiles at sites like Facebook and Twitter?
Is their site ranking well in Google for their targeted keywords or phrases? If not, you may be able to help with SEO services.
Now when you contact the customer you have more background information and you may have identified some areas that they would be interested in improving. Mention the specific ways that you can help them rather than just asking if there is anything that you can do to help. In addition to what you can learn by visiting their website there may be other ways that you can help. If you offer services for print design you may want to see if they have any need for services like business card and stationary design.
7. Offer a Maintenance Package
Sometimes contacting clients a few months after you have designed their website can be effective for picking up new maintenance work. At the time of the design you may have offered some type of ongoing work for site updates or maintenance, but most clients prefer to handle this on their own. However, many of those clients find out within a few months that they just don’t have the time to give enough attention to their website. If you follow up with them and offer an attractive package they may be interested after coming to this realization on their own. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all clients, but many (especially small businesses) will fall into this category.
The services you offer would depend on their needs. Maybe they just need help adding company news to the site (even some clients with content management systems prefer to hire someone else to do this work). Maybe they need new graphics to be designed occasionally for promos on their site. You can take their needs and come up with an offer to help. It could simply be an hourly rate, or some clients prefer flat-rate packages that give them a certain number of hours of work each month.
8. Ask for Client Feedback
After you have completed projects for your clients it is a good practice to follow up with them to get their feedback. This helps you to improve your work going forward and it shows the client that you are committed to producing great results. Hopefully they have had a positive experience, and if they haven’t it gives you a chance to see what you can do to improve the situation.
What’s Your Experience?
What is your process for following up with past clients? If you have any tips feel free to share them in the comments.
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