We’ve written before on the blog about how devastating it was to say goodbye to old clients when lockdown hit. Freelancers were one of the first victims of the initial wave of COVID-induced economic panic, as companies sought to reduce their outgoings. A lot of freelancers lost a lot of work, almost overnight. If this happened to you, know that you’re not alone.
Hopefully now, with Step 4 of lockdown easing just days away, you’re starting to find work is picking up again. Most industries have now reopened, and the competition for attracting talent is heating up amongst businesses. Many are looking to hire skilled freelancers to give them the edge in the predicted post-lockdown boom. So, if you’re a freelancer looking to pick up more work, now is a good time to get in touch with old clients and try to resurrect working relationships that were unexpectedly severed last March. Here are our suggestions for five ways that freelancers can rekindle that connection with previous clients.
1. Leave on good terms
Hopefully, when you bid adieu to your client, it was more of an “I’ve had the time of my life” than a “hop on the bus, Gus”. Leaving relationships open and on good terms is one of the most important skills a freelancer can develop. In most freelance industries, you’re going to experience rejection and disappointment from time to time. It’s important to leave clients with a positive last impression, leaving the door open for them to come back when the time is right. If the worst happens and a client wants to end your contract, or says that they’ve not got any more work to offer you, then try to deal with the situation graciously. Thank them for working with you, and remind them that you’d be happy to help them again if the situation changes, or they have new projects coming up.
2. Ask for feedback
We’re always badgering our freelancers to make sure they ask clients for feedback at the end of each job. As well as providing testimonials to use on your website and marketing to help you gain new work, it also helps you identify areas of your skill set that you’re perhaps underselling. If there are any weak points identified, you can try and set them right before the next job. It shows you are client-focused and that their views are important to you. When you and a client are parting ways, asking for a testimonial as the last interaction leaves their praise for you at the forefront of their mind, meaning that the next time they need a freelancer, you’ll be the one they think of.
3. Keep in touch
Once your contract with your client has finished, don’t give them the silent treatment. Try and find ways to stay in touch, gently and unobtrusively. Adding them to your social networks – LinkedIn in particular – is a good way to do this. It’ll mean you pop up on their feed every time you have a new achievement or good news to share, keeping you in their mind. If you’ve followed the steps above and left on good terms, you can also periodically do a direct approach to the client. Let them know that you have availability and ask about any new projects they have coming up that you could get involved in. As well as putting you in line for new jobs, if they know you’re available they might also recommend your services to others.
4. Put your focus on the right clients
Not every client is worth hanging on to. And with freelance life being so busy and demanding, it’s important that you put your time and energy into the right places. Think about which clients you most want to work with again. Who gave you the most work? Who paid your invoices on time? Who was pleasant and easy to deal with? These are the customers you should focus on keeping “warm” between jobs.
5. Keep your website up to date
For freelancers in the digital age, your website is like your shop window. It’s where you can showcase your skills, celebrate your credentials and highlight your happy customers. Make sure you update it regularly so that clients – old and new – know what you’re up to. A website should be a dynamic, changing platform that develops as you and your talents do, not something you build once and forget about. If an old client revisits your website, you want them to be faced with all the exciting projects that you’ve been working on recently, not for them to feel like it hasn’t changed since they first hired you. Glowing reviews from other happy customers and brand new additions to your portfolio will give the impression of a freelancer that’s constantly moving forwards, developing and honing their skills. Your website should also highlight your availability – if you have any – and offer easy ways to get in touch with you to get jobs booked in.
Another thing that you can shout about on your website is your business insurance. When you’re covered by Dinghy, we’ll give you access to “My Dinghy” – a personalised landing page that you can link to from your website. Your “My Dinghy” profile will show your customers your current insurance status, letting potential and current clients know that you’re operating professionally and secured against risk. Our professional indemnity insurance cover means that your clients know that if a mistake happens in your work, the costs of putting it right will be taken care of. You’ll also have a top legal team to fight your corner. With all our freelancer insurance policies you can pay monthly at no extra cost, and switch your policy onto lite mode when you’re not working – perfect for those short gaps between clients. You can get a quote on our website and the whole process takes just 30 seconds.