How to Make More Money and Do Less Work: Repeat Business
Making more money while doing less work sounds like paradise for freelancers. You can easily achieve this state of supreme happiness. Just focus on getting repeat business from your clients, instead of constantly searching for new clients or hoping they’ll somehow find you.
Repeat business from current clients and past clients who you haven’t worked with for a while is an easy way to grow your freelance business. Clients who give you repeat business often become anchor clients, extra-large clients you can count on for steady work. If you’ve chosen the right clients, this will be steady, high-paying work.
And you’ll have less administrative work, less marketing to do, and less stress. Doing more work for fewer clients decreases the amount of time you need to spend on work you don’t get paid for, like developing and negotiating contracts and marketing to attract new clients. It’s easier to learn and apply the style and process for a few big clients than to do this for many smaller clients.
Make Sure Clients Think of You First
Your current clients may need more freelance help. But if they don’t think of you first, they’ll give the freelance job to another freelancer.
And past clients may have forgotten about you and be giving their freelance jobs to other freelancers. Or they may not need freelance help right now but will again in the future. If you stopped working together because of changes in management or the work the client did, the situation could be different now.
Make sure that clients think of you first when they need more freelance help by:
- Always doing more than expected
- Staying in touch (following up) regularly with clients and past clients.
Do More than Expected
Clients always know when a freelancer does the minimum on a freelance job. And they don’t give repeat business to these minimizers.
But when you do more than expected, you make your clients’ lives easier. They really appreciate this, and will want to work with you more.
Ways to do more than expected include:
- Being likeable and easy to work with
- Behaving professionally
- Making suggestions
- Answering questions before clients ask them
- Spending a little extra time on a project
- Doing a little extra work on a project.
It doesn’t take much time or effort to do more than expected.
Learn more about how to do more than expected
Follow Up to Get More Repeat Business
Like doing more than expected, staying in touch with clients regularly doesn’t take much time or effort. But it can really pay off!
Professional follow up focuses mostly on providing useful information and resources to clients and past clients, like links to blog posts, reports, and podcasts. Commenting on news about the person or the company is also great. Developing an e-newsletter and sending holiday cards are other ways to follow up.
Following up with interested clients (clients who’ve said they’re interested in your freelance services but haven’t hired you yet) is important too.
Learn more about how to follow up
Ask Clients for Repeat Business
When you do more than expected for your clients and stay in touch with them regularly, they’re likely to offer you more freelance jobs.
But it’s also okay to ask for more freelance jobs—if you do this in the right way and at the right time.
The Right Way to Ask for Repeat Business
Be professional and low-key, never pushy. For most freelancers, email is the easiest way to ask for more freelance jobs.
The Right Time to Ask for Repeat Business
There are 3 times when it’s natural to ask a client for more work:
- When the client compliments you on a project
- When you finish a project
- When you find an unmet need.
These emails are easy to write. Here are a few examples.
Example: Client compliment email
I’m so glad you’re happy with my work on XYZ Project Carol. I enjoyed working with you on this project and would love to help you with similar or other projects.
Example: End of project email
Hi Carol. I enjoyed working on XYZ Project and look forward to working with you again. Just let me know how I can help you.
Unmet needs could be projects that your client mentions or needs that you identify, for example, by reviewing the client’s website. If the client mentions an unmet need that you can fill, send the email right away. Mention the need the client mentioned. If you find the need on your own, this type of email works best as part of your response to a client compliment or an end of project email.
Example: Unmet needs email
Hi Carol. I enjoyed working on XYZ Project. I’ve been reading your HealthBeat blog and I noticed that you offer a lot of content. If you need some freelance help with this, or with other projects, just let me know.
Get More Referrals from Clients Too
When you get repeat business from your clients, you build trusting relationships with them. And clients who trust you will refer you to their colleagues who need freelancers. Those clients are very likely to hire you because they trust their colleagues.
Other freelancers are also a great source of referrals. But you also need trusting relationships with them to get referrals.