The key to building a sustainable freelance business is turning short-term projects into long term customers. You do this by being consistently good at what you do and building trust between you and the client. You can build trust by not just doing what you’re paid to do, but going beyond that and becoming a partner. So what’s the difference between a hired gun and a partner?
Adding more value
It’s easy to fall into the trap of just doing what you’re told to get paid. But it’s a losing strategy over the long term. You should be embedding yourself in the client’s business to identify other problems you can solve and see them before they arise. You’re most likely being hired as a specialist in an area the client knows very little about, so you’re perfectly placed to save them from potential pitfalls or issues that may arise. And you should be doing this for free. Whether or not your customer wants to pay you to solve that problem, you’re building trust.
However, there is an element of timing to how you do this. Remember to concentrate on the project at hand, but take notes so that once it’s finished you can then bring up other areas that may need your attention. Do not try to sell more services when you haven’t even finished the work you were hired to do in the first place!
It’s your job to follow up and check-in with how things are going after a project has ended. They may be having issues with the work you left them with, in which case it’s in your best interest to help them with it. But it can also be useful to keep in touch with a business as it grows, as they will likely need your help again in the future.
Having a more vested interest in a client’s business shows that you’re more committed and loyal than most freelancers. And makes you a good choice to rehire in the future. Most successful freelancers know the value of actually caring about their previous customers, because it results in more word of mouth referrals and repeat business to the point where they no longer go out and look for work anymore.
If you take a longer term approach to helping your clients, you’ll be well on your way to building a more sustainable freelance business.
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