Freelancing Mistake: Working Harder on New Clients

Freelance Folder affirms my belief that freelancers need to work hard to earn repeat business. Repeat business is cheaper than marketing to new clients. I’ve been lucky that over 90% of my business has come from repeat business. One way I do this is to have friendly conversations with them by e-mail. I don’t like the stiff and formal e-mails as they just feel cold and unfriendly — which goes against my Texan nature.
One client hadn’t paid the invoice, and I sent him a friendly follow up e-mail about a month or so after sending the original invoice. I left it alone for a while and then I knew I had to send another e-mail. Like I said, I don’t like sending formal e-mails that sound cold, but I had to do it. Here’s a sample:

Dear [name],
Hope all is going well for you. [Something about the business — and how services helped].
We still have an invoice outstanding for $[], invoice #[] we sent to you
on [date]. The invoice covered the following work: [work description]. We believe we’ve performed to your satisfaction, but if not, please contact me and let’s discuss it. While we’re no longer involved in providing you with writing services, we would like to have that final invoice paid – unless you feel there is some reason that it shouldn’t be paid.
We normally don’t send such a formal e-mail because our clients understand their obligation in the client-provider relationship.
Hope we see your payment soon.
Regards,
Meryl

The client responded immediately and apologized. It turned out the business changed direction. Everything’s cool and he even provided a recommendation / testimonial.
One time I e-mailed a client on a weekend as I had the opportunity to work on their content. The client replied asking what I was doing working on a Saturday (or maybe a holiday). I responded saying I’m devoted to meeting her needs 24/7 and then explained why I was working. It was tongue-in-cheek humor with a friendly explanation.
I’ve also sent clients gift baskets when they had surgery or a long illness. I work to stay in touch with current and past clients through e-mail, social networking sites, a holiday card. When I drop a line to a past client with whom I haven’t talked to in a long time — I simply ask how things are going and what’s been going on. I don’t ask for business. I care about them and their business, and take an interest in their successes.

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