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Are you tired of digging for the right job posting, writing endless proposals, and putting hours of research into one-time collaborations? If you aren’t, maybe you should be!
New collaborations are exciting and good for a challenge (as well as a mental break), but did you know they could be costing you more than just your time? It can cost up to five times more to find a new client than to continue working with an existing one! You’re probably also sacrificing efficiency; when you’ve already worked with a client, you understand that client’s priorities, preferences, and needs as opposed to starting from scratch.
The solution? Nurture your existing clients into long-term working relationships. With even a handful of loyal, repeat clients, you will see the amount of prep you put into a typical project dramatically decrease. In this post, we’ll cover some tips I use to keep my clients engaged, happy, and always coming back for more.
“Every step of the way she kept us informed…”
“…extremely professional and responsive…”
“…kept me up-to-date regularly.”
Are you starting to see a pattern here? These quotes are taken from real client feedback on my Upwork profile. I don’t list them to show off, simply to point out that when you communicate effectively with your clients, they notice. Don’t leave your clients in the dark about their own work!
Clients feel better when they know what to expect and how their project is progressing. I lay out my process for them before we even agree on a price! Using a customizable template, I can send out an email that’s geared to their specific brand to answer questions they didn’t even know they had yet. They know what’s coming, every step of the way. That way they feel comfortable and in control. A client should never feel nervous about consulting with you!
Snags? Holdups? Let them know. They’ll appreciate the honesty and the chance to adjust their own calendar if needed. They may even have a solution you hadn’t thought of!
Clients, like most of us, will often choose the path of least resistance. If they had an excellent experience with you but can’t seem to find your contact information, they might go with a different freelancer just to save the hassle of digging for your business card. Part of your job is to stay fresh on the client’s mind between collaborations. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to do.
In a recent blog post, I talked about using email marketing and social media to find clients. The great thing about forming connections this way is that you stay connected with your client after your project is completed. Encourage first-time clients to follow you on social media or sign up for your newsletter. Explain that it will give them an idea of how you work (Which is absolutely true and another great reason to do this!) and you will share updates about your work and relevant information they need!
By providing them with helpful content in between working periods, you’re keeping your brand relevant to their needs. You’re also giving them little refreshers on your name and skills when they’re least expecting it. Next time they find themselves looking for a freelancer, they’ll know exactly where to find you.
Always, always remember that a client looks for a freelancer because there is something they don’t know. Maybe they don’t know how to work a DSLR or maybe they don’t understand why their current look isn’t generating interest. Maybe they don’t even know what they don’t know!
Don’t consider yourself at a disadvantage just because they’re the one paying you. You have experience and expertise in your field. You know what works and what doesn’t! Gently educate on topics like file sizes, image optimization, and copyright law, without criticizing their current way of doing things. When you function as both a freelancing professional and a guide, you add value to the services you offer.
To do justice to this idea, you’ll need to remember details about your client’s preferences. Keep a journal (digitally or by hand – I use Trello) that you can refer back to when communicating with a specific client. What were their business priorities? Was there a specific look they didn’t like? They’ll be impressed that you remember these things when they come back to you for new work.
I firmly believe the client will remember the experience of working with you even more than the quality of your photos. Feelings stick in the human brain a lot longer than details! If you make your client feel understood, supported, and advised, they will want to feel that way again the next time they hire a photographer.
This is what we call “elevating the client experience”. I like to do this by putting together a welcome packet, proposals, price sheet, mood board, and/or shot list for each client. I hear you saying that you don’t have time to do all this, and to this I have 2 answers: 1/ You will save a lot of time on back and forth with the client and reshooting images that don’t fit their vision if you iron out all the details beforehand 2/ you can create beautiful templates that you can customize in minutes for each client, using a set of tools that simplify the process , like Canva and Pixieset (absolute lifesavers!). Clients are always impressed that I have these customized materials ready to go! You can certainly attach a few sample photos to your proposal and call it a day, but you’ll be competing with hundreds of other freelancers doing the exact same thing. Branded materials help you stand out from the crowd while offering a little something extra.
After a collaboration, I like to check in to say thank you, make sure they don’t have any issues with the files and inquire about how the work is being received. Not only does this give me stats that I can use in my marketing materials, it helps the client feel like I’m interested in more than just a paycheck. A client who believes that I genuinely care about their needs (and I do) is a client who will come back for more photography.
The number one way to simplify your workflow is to nurture your existing clients into repeat customers. Make yourself indispensable! Use your stellar communication skills, a healthy social media presence, and carefully designed templates to elevate your client’s experience into something they will want to come back to every time they have a photography need.
If you are interested in learning more about elevating your client experience, make sure to check out the blog! The whole month of September will be dedicated to this topic! Make sure to sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a blog post!