How to Romance Your Clients for a Long-Term Relationship

I've always been a big thinker.

When I started my freelance business almost three years ago, I had visions of grandeur.

I pictured landing "dream clients" like the ones I heard A-level copywriters talking about.

Since I started out in the personal development niche, that included big-name gurus like Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, and Zig Ziglar.

I imagined myself sitting at board meetings with them. I'd offer some brilliant copywriting and marketing ideas, and they'd give me huge project fees and royalty deals. Within a few years, I'd probably make partner.

So far, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

Not that it can't. I know a couple of copywriters who have had very similar experiences to that dream sequence.

Those opportunities are out there, and I plan on making it happen at some point in the fitness or travel niches I now work in.

I encourage you to think big, too.

An Alternate Plan

In case that scenario doesn't play out for you, let me assure you, there's another way to earn the type of income you want as a freelancer.

I know because my freelance business has been profitable from day one. But I've done it mostly with clients that aren’t celebrities or well known outside their niche.

In fact, I'm guessing you've never heard of Diana Hendrix Coaching, SmartRunningSolution.com, The Perfect Workout, Rocket Barstool, or Freedom Personal Development. But each of them has been an integral part of my success, and a couple of them are still clients.

Running a profitable freelance business is about being deliberate in everything you do. It's about getting off the cycle of getting work, doing work, and billing for work (or as veteran copywriter Nick Usborne calls it, "being trapped on the hamster wheel").

It's about having a game plan to get good clients, and then taking care of those clients. What I would call romancing your clients.

We'll get to the romance part in a minute, but there are three things you need to do first:

  • Pick a niche you love (and makes you money). If you don't love your niche, you won't love your prospects and clients and sustain a long-term successful business. And who wants to romance someone you're not passionate about?
  • Identify prospects within this niche. The best and probably easiest way to create a prospect list is to research online. Google "trade publications," "associations," and "directories" along with your chosen niche (for example, "independent organic food companies"). You can also search at manta.com or conduct a narrow search many other ways.
  • Land clients. This is clearly a topic for a separate article. Will Newman had a great article recently, "Eight Steps to Finding Your First Clients," and I wrote "A System for Attracting Clients" in January that can give you tips on getting clients.

The point is, you don't have to start with what you think are your dream clients. A small client that you nurture into a bigger client over a few years could be very lucrative.

Let me give you an example.

Two years ago, I started writing for a company called The Perfect Workout, a chain of fitness studios in Southern California. It wasn't a big job, but I put everything I had into it. I focused on their needs and helped them grow, without worrying about the small project fee I received. I knew if I treated the client right and did a good job, I'd be rewarded.

Since then, this client has given me work every month and increased my pay substantially. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy the projects. The owner of the company even gave me an unsolicited testimonial on LinkedIn:

"Steve's done the majority of my company's copywriting for our internal marketing during the last two years, and over that time we've increased our number of active clients by 157% (growing from 350 to 900 active clients), and nearly doubled our number of store locations (growing from 6 to 11 locations). Steve's excellent copywriting is one of the reasons we've been able to grow so fast, and we've been very fortunate that he's been a part of our team … "

Do you want to develop your small clients into possible "dream clients"? Try …

Romancing Your Client for a Long-Term Relationship

There are seven things you can do with all your clients, regardless of how big or small they are, to start laying the groundwork for years of working together:

1. Communicate. They say communication is the key to any good relationship, right? This is especially important on the first project, or there may not be more. Make sure you're completely clear on the parameters of the project and about what's expected. No surprises makes for a happy client (and a happy copywriter).

2. Focus on their needs. Show that your main concern is to help them grow. I asked the owner of The Perfect Workout what his plans were, how much he wanted to grow and how fast. I made it clear that my number one priority was to help him achieve those goals.

3. Put your best foot forward. You do this in a romantic relationship, don't you? Deliver your best quality work always. Look sharp (your copy, and you, if you ever see them in person). Show up on time like you would for a first date. Be polite and gracious.

4. Appreciate them. I'm not talking flowers for Valentine's Day, although that wouldn't hurt with some clients. Yes, I know you're doing them a favor by writing great copy and increasing their business. But thank them. Thank them for their business. Thank them for the opportunity to work together. When your copy hits a home run, they'll appreciate you, too. If you only hit a single, they'll give you another chance.

5. Nurture the relationship. If you have a great first date, what do you do? You call the person and ask them out again. Same thing here. Don't drop the ball after the first project and wait for them to call you. Initiate the conversation. Ask how things went. Get some feedback. Let them know you're interested in working together again, and suggest some ideas. Keep in touch.

6. Make it easy for them to say yes. If you've done the first five points here, it's only natural that they'll want to work with you again. With most clients, I assume that we'll continue to work together. Even if things don't go perfectly on the first project (ever have a mediocre first date that later turned into something more?), you'll get a second shot.

And finally …

7. Put some passion into it. You be the spark that initiates things. Don't wait for them. Get enthusiastic about whatever success you helped them achieve! Get excited about their potential if they implement your next idea. Most clients aren't going to be overly animated about their working relationship with you, so be the instigator.

Use these seven ideas to put some romance into your freelance business, and you'll have happy, profitable, and loyal clients.

The kind of clients that could very well turn into "dream clients."

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Published: February 14, 2012

1 Response to “How to Romance Your Clients for a Long-Term Relationship ”

  1. Thank you for your insights here, Steve, I bet that has been your forte because you attended the school of hard knocks and not just University of Wisconsion at Madison.

    In general, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive.

    When you show initiative, your clients and potential clients may not always clinch the deal, but they will appreciate your sense of professionalism.

    The early bird catches the worm, after all, and it is not easy to keep on ignoring an eager beaver.

    Sometimes, even when a client says "no" what he or she really means is "yes."

    What they are really looking for is your ability and willingness to be persistent.

    Archan MehtaJune 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm


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