There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re one-of-a-kind to your freelance blogging clients.
The phrase, “You’re our go-to gal/guy” will send a giddy shiver throughout your body each time you hear it.
But many freelance bloggers won’t hear that even once in their career. High-quality bloggers are a rare species, much like the Karner Blue butterfly I recently befriended.
When I first saw the butterfly, I simply admired it as I watched it flutter in the wind. Even as it landed on me, I didn’t understand the true nature of its beauty.
Then I realized what I was holding. It was a Karner Blue butterfly, an endangered species.
Upon learning this, the encounter shifted from being simply neat to being incredibly significant. I didn’t want to let the little guy fly away.
That’s the kind of experience you want your blogging clients to have. You want them to realize that you’re a rarity — that bloggers like you are hard to find. At that point, they won’t want to let you go.
Check out these ways you can show your true colors and put yourself on your clients’ endangered species list.
1. Fly high and far
When receiving client testimonials, this is the one thing I hear time and time again:
“Alicia always goes above and beyond what’s asked of her.”
But here’s the thing: I don’t feel like I’m putting any extra time into it. Wouldn’t it be great to set yourself apart from other freelance bloggers without much effort? The answer is yes.
I’m going to let you in on a few tactics I hope you’ll adopt.
Engage in the client’s community.
Contacting your clients only when they’re interested in paying you doesn’t necessarily get you noticed, especially when they have numerous other bloggers on their team. What they will notice is when you show your face outside of your paid work.
Respond to comments on your articles. Share other articles on their site. Follow their brand on Twitter. This is an important element of your client interaction, because it shows that you’re invested in their business. You care about their vision.
(Now, this may not be the proper course of action for every client, so evaluate the type of relationship you want with them first. More often than not, I’d encourage building a relationship this way.)
Take on work that no one else will.
As a freelance blogger, you have complete control over the topics you write (unless your contract states otherwise).
If a client comes to you with a bizarre topic, you might be tempted to say, “I don’t think I’m the right person for this. You’re better off finding someone else on the team who has more experience in this subject.” Your client may simply shrug it off, no penalty against you.
Now imagine you’re the person who says, “Sure thing! I’ll get on researching the project as soon as possible.” Now you’ve set yourself apart from those team members who thought the topic was out of their league.
Give ‘em a little more than they asked for.
When appropriate, give your clients just a little bit more. I don’t mean adding extra words or inserting more pictures or links into your posts. That can have negative consequences (and could make it seem like you can’t follow directions).
But let’s say a client asks you to come up with three topic ideas for the upcoming weeks. Hand over three headlines, and then share two alternative topics in case your client doesn’t like the first three.
Or you might offer your expert opinion about aspects of your client’s blog. It’s kind of like giving free consulting advice, and if your client decides to adopt your suggestion and it works for him, you just won yourself some brownie points. Just make sure you’re not being condescending or rude in the way you frame your offer of help.
Here’s the cool thing, though: None of these “extras” have to cut into your pay. You can always adjust your rates to reflect the time you spend on these tasks.
2. Use your proboscis
Butterflies don’t have mouths. Instead, they have a straw-like appendage called a proboscis they use to suck up nectar.
The nectar? Your client’s feedback.
Your proboscis? Your ability to digest that feedback.
No matter who I’ve asked about this, one thing holds true: Clients are impressed by bloggers who take feedback to heart.
And when a client offers constructive criticism? Good writers and bloggers don’t shrug it off and move onto the next client. They evaluate this criticism and look for ways to take on the challenge.
I want you to try an exercise next time you receive feedback. The first part of the exercise involves taking notes. If you’re talking with a client via phone or Skype, write down his or her suggestions. If you receive an email with constructive criticism, save it.
Next, take that feedback into account when you write another post for the same client. If you follow only a fraction of their directions and skip the rest, clients feel frustrated and annoyed. So when you think you’ve incorporated all their feedback, review your notes or email to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
3. Start building your chrysalis
The beginning of a chrysalis signifies a state of metamorphosis, a dramatic change and growth in a caterpillar’s life. As a freelance blogger, you will grow, too, soon emerging as a beautiful butterfly.
In the stage of building your chrysalis, you have to show that you’re willing to learn and grow.
I have one client who lives by the premise that writers who think their skills have peaked are not worth working with. Assume the majority of your clients feel this way.
Here are a few ways you can show that you’re willing to learn and grow.
- Show humility. Admit that you have room to grow. This shows that you’re willing to get better and better. At the same time, though, don’t forget to let your strengths shine.
- Ask questions. I’ve never had a client react negatively to my questions. In fact, the one time I didn’t ask questions is when the project blew up in my face. When the situation calls for it, ask for clarity. If a client makes a suggestion you don’t understand, ask if he or she can give examples.
- Listen to others. When your client or someone on your team shares a new viewpoint, practice listening and putting those suggestions to the test. This shows that you trust others and are open-minded to new experiences.
- Share your own ideas. Sharing your own thoughts puts you in the middle of the conversation, a place where you can offer your own expertise while giving you a chance to hear opposing views.
4. Be timely
As an editor, nothing annoys me more than when writers miss their deadlines or submit a huge chunk of work at the last minute. I can’t imagine how a client must feel in the same situation.
You certainly won’t lose a client by sticking to your deadline—even if you submit your work at the last minute. However, you may earn some brownie points by staggering your work when you have a large workload, or submitting your assignments ahead of the deadline.
I always pretend that my deadline is 24 hours before the project is actually due. And I’m not the only one. Many of my blogger friends have told me they do the same thing. And you know what? It works! And it seems to impress clients every time.
It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort if you’re organized. I always write down due dates on my calendar. Other writers use apps like Pomodoro to track their project progress and to stay on task.
5. Put your signals to the test
Do you know how butterflies communicate? It’s mostly through chemical signals. As a soon-to-be butterfly, put your signals to the test by staying in touch with your clients.
In my experience, clients are more impressed with bloggers who are personable and ask questions. You certainly don’t want to annoy your client to no end, but you don’t want to feel practically non-existent, either.
Stay in touch throughout your project. If you have a huge assignment, consider sending updates on your progress. If you run into instructions or other information you’re unsure about, contact your client for clarity.
Even if there are periods when you’re not receiving work, stay in touch through email or social media. (For extra tips on staying in touch, check out this post on Entrepreneur by Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of BNI.)
Follow the 5 “butterfly blogging” tips above, and your clients will treasure you like the rarity you are.
I certainly don’t have every factor down to impress my clients beyond belief, so I’d like to hear from you.
What do you do to impress your clients? Share your ideas in the comment section.