In my opinion, the dream freelance writing scenario is built on retention.
You have 4-5 clients paying you a lucrative retainer, and you work with those same clients for years and years and years.
In this scenario, you get all the benefits of freelancing:
- Flexible hours and schedule
- Not dependent on any one boss/client
- High income
AND all the benefits of being employed:
- Stable, predictable work and income
- Familiar work atmosphere with ongoing relationships
- Growing expertise within a given company/niche/subject matter
Unfortunately, most freelancers never experience these benefits, because they don’t know how to retain clients.
In today’s episode, I cover four highly practical ways you can increase client retention as a freelance copywriter, so that you can have a better chance of building this dream scenario for your own business.
Listen To The Recording
Watch The Video
Read The Transcript
Hey guys, welcome to Write Bites: a series of 10-minute episodes on writing, marketing, and freelancing.
In today’s episode, I’m going to be covering four different ways you can increase your retention as a freelance writer.
We’re talking about getting contracts with clients that last longer, pay more, and are ultimately something that you can build your business around instead of having to scramble for new gigs month after month after month.
If that sounds interesting to you, stay tuned!
This episode of Write Bites is sponsored by Copy.AI, a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers skip writer’s block completely and quickly generate first draft copy for themselves and their businesses by harnessing the power of GPT-3 artificial intelligence.
If you’d like to try out Copy.AI for yourself, head on over to https://copy.ai/jacob and you can get a 30 day free trial.
Okay guys, let’s dive in.
We’re going to be covering four different ways that you can increase retention for your business as a freelance writer. And the first is relatively simple: focus on types of copywriting that facilitate retainers.
Strategy #1: Focus On Writing Services With Built-In Retention
A lot of new copywriters tend to gravitate towards types of copywriting that are a little bit more one-off in nature. Website copy, landing pages, sales page copy – even stuff like email sequences.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. We’re going to be covering a way you can leverage these types of gigs for more retention. But the simplest way to increase retention is simply to focus on the types of gigs that result in ongoing work.
So in particular, we’re talking about blog writing. We’re talking about email broadcasts. Emails that are ongoing: sales for eCommerce that need to be run every few weeks, broadcast emails that are designed to just nurture audiences, and stuff that needs to be generated each week.
Blogs are obviously the most common example here because you cannot get value from any given blog posts without having a lot more blog posts.
Any client that knows what they’re doing and is paying for blog content? They’re going to be paying for blog content pretty much forever.
So if you want more retention, going in and finding gigs built around these services that kind of have retention baked into them is a great strategy. Because then you do the work to land a new client and you didn’t just land a client that you’re going to have to replace next month.
If you land a blogging client this month – if you can do a good job for them and they know what they’re doing from a content marketing perspective – you could be working with them for the next five years.
So that’s step #1. If you really want to increase retention, focus on types of copy that are built for retention.
Strategy #2: Add Retainers Onto Your Current Services
You should also look to add relevant retainers to the types of copy that you’re already doing.
For example, we just mentioned website copy as a bad gig for retention…
But what if you had an ongoing retainer offer that really fit well with website copywriting?
What if you were to offer – for $100 a month – to be available to do tweaks and little minor edits to the website? This could also be $250 a month or $500 a month, depending on the size of the business or how active the business is changing their website.
There’s little things like that where you can potentially be making money every single month – sometimes without even having to do anything.
If you’re working with a lot of small businesses, they’re probably happy to pay $100 a month to have someone immediately there to make changes as needed. And a lot of those months, they probably won’t even be utilizing your services.
You could potentially get into a scenario where you have 10-20 businesses all paying you between $100-$200 a month for a few hours of work a month.
That can add up to some pretty good ongoing income. Whereas before, maybe you did the initial project and then you never really heard from these clients again.
So look for stuff like that – places where you can add in a retainer.
For instance, I mentioned a welcome sequence earlier.
If you really specialize in doing particular sequences for companies, you have a great opportunity to also sell them an email retainer where they’re hiring you to do their broadcast emails every month.
So any place where you can take what you’re currently offering and look to upsell or add in some sort of lower-priced retainer could be very effective.
Strategy #3: Treat Every Client Like A VIP
This one seems super obvious, but to be honest, I really don’t see it a lot in freelancing. And that’s to treat every client like a VIP – to really give them the VIP experience.
What I mean by that is looking to cater the delivery of your services to the client and the client’s needs.
This is one of those things that a lot of freelancers are very resistant to.
There is a particular mentality that tends to attract freelancers. Not wanting to be at someone’s beck and call, wanting to have really strong boundaries, wanting to run your own business, be your own professional and interact with people more as peers than as a subservient employee – like you might have experienced at your old job.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I see a lot of freelancers interact with their clients like this:
“Hey, I don’t need you. You’re just a number to me. You’re just one person. I’m going to do my thing for you, and my work is super valuable. You’re lucky to have me.”
Again, it’s not that that’s inherently wrong. It’s more that if you go too far in that direction, that’s exactly the feeling your client’s going to get…
That you don’t particularly care about them.
That they don’t particularly matter to you.
And you’re not really interested in going above and beyond to provide a great experience for them.
While you’re free to run your business however you want, that type of attitude doesn’t lend to someone wanting to stick around and be a long-term client.
For instance, I was talking with my friend Mike Blankenship the other day.
Mike has some of the best retention of any freelancer I’ve ever come across. He has multiple clients who pay him a pretty premium rate and have been working with him every month for more than three years.
I asked him how he gets such great retention, and his answer was that he treats every client with the intent of keeping them around for years. And that looks like providing them with VIP treatment.
He charges the price that he wants to make. And then within that he doesn’t quibble or get arrogant or egotistical about little details.
If they come to him looking for a really fast turnaround on something, he tries to hit the deadline for him. If things get too extreme – where it’s just showing poor processes on their end – then he’ll address it. But he’s not looking to quibble.
He’s not looking to be like the boss with them.
He’s just looking to give them amazing service and go out of his way to make things as simple and easy for them as possible.
Obviously, one of the greatest things about running your own business is you can do it on your own terms.
But if you’re not getting the results you want – if clients aren’t sticking around and you’re having to just go to extreme lengths on lead gen to offset this – maybe it’s time to drop your ego and be a more client-focused service provider.
Strategy#4: Always Ask For Referrals
Number four is just as simple as the last one. But again, I see so few freelancers doing this – and I’m guilty of it as well…
Ask for referrals.
Always, always, always ask for referrals at the end of every project before you get too deep into off-boarding.
Make the ask.
You aren’t going to get referrals from every single client, but ask and follow up. Look to get them as often as possible.
I’m telling you right now: the best clients, the easiest to retain clients – those that are better in every measurable way – they nearly always come via referral.
Referrals trust you more. They’re looking to pay more, they’re looking to work with you longer, and they’re often looking for higher quality work.
Obviously, there are exceptions.
But in general, most of your best clients will come through referrals.
If you talk to almost any freelancer, you’re going to find that it’s true.
So any chance you can get to generate referrals through your existing clients, you want to look to do that.
You want to proactively look to do that at every opportunity.
Review: 4 Strategies To Increase Retention
So let’s review real quick.
- Focus on types of copywriting that lend themselves to retainers & ongoing work.
- If you’re already focused on a particular type of copy that’s not great for retention or isn’t really ongoing, look for an ongoing writing need that is connected to what you’re already doing to offer the client.
- Treat every client like a VIP without crossing your own important boundaries. Look to be as flexible as you can be to provide a really great experience for the client wherever possible. Go the extra mile to give them a fantastic experience.
- Look, to get referrals wherever and whenever you can.
All right guys, I hope that was helpful! See you in the next episode.
Want More Write Bites?
Share Your Thoughts
I hope this was helpful, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Do you agree? Do you disagree with the fierce heat of a thousand suns?
Let me know in the comments below.
Plus, if you have a question you want answered on a future Write Bites episode, ask in the comments or shoot me an email, and I’ll add it to the schedule.