Are you making your clients fire you?

I’ve heard the same complaint from small businesses as well as larger agencies:

“Why don’t more freelance writers have a sense of urgency with their clients? I can barely get someone to email me back, much less make a deadline.”

Yeah, I’ve noticed that too.

When I mention this issue to freelance SEO copywriters, they talk about how much business is coming through the door. They’re trying to ramp up, write faster and keep up with the growing demand. Yes, that may mean that it takes some time to get back to the client. But the client understands – right?

Here’s the problem:

Clients pay you to make their problems go away. If you want to keep clients, you need to convey a sense of urgency at all times and make the client feel like they’re your first and only priority. Otherwise, the client will get squirrelly, consider YOU a problem and move on to another writer.

You may say, “Well, this isn’t about me, I’ve never been fired.” But have you ever heard, “Sorry, we don’t have any more work for you. We’ll call you when we do” (and you notice that the client is still uploading new pages?).

Yup, you’ve been fired. It’s just a softer way to hear the news. :)

If this sounds like you, it could mean that changing how (and when) you communicate with your clients can transform your client retention rates. Here’s how to do it:

  • Respond to emails in a timely manner. You don’t have to email the client back five seconds after they contact you, but you should get back to them that day.
  • Tell your client if you have set times when you read and respond to email. Clients love this because (1) they know when you’ll be reading their email and (2) when to expect a response.
  • If it’s a time-sensitive project, email the client right away. Tired of emails that ask, “Did you get this?” Here’s how to prevent them:  Immediately email your client back and tell them your timeline. They’ll relax once they know you’re “on it.”
  • Give frequent status updates. Rather than going completely silent, send an email that says, “I don’t have any new information, but I wanted you to know that I’m still working on it.” That prevents the client from thinking you dropped the ball.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. If you tell the client that you’ll have something to them “in a couple hours” – don’t email them later in the day and say “something came up.” That response will send your client to Crazytown, guaranteed. Especially if they set aside time to review your work.
  • Don’t send emails that start, “Wow, sorry it took so long to get back to you. I’m just really busy.” We’re all busy. Your client doesn’t care.  Send a fast note if you’re crunched for time,. Even something simple like, “Just a quick note to say that I received this.  I’ll respond by my end of day”can make a huge difference.

Are you a SEO copy freelancer? What are some of your favorite client management tips – especially when you’re busy.

And if you’re an end client who hires freelancers, what would you add to this list?