So you've won lots of clients since you started freelancing and some continue to hire you regularly. They'll often approach you when they need something, and you're happy to oblige.
But by waiting for clients to make the first move, you could be missing a trick here because you might be failing to see the full potential of your existing client base.
Instead of putting lots of energy into winning new customers, think about the ones you already have. Consider how you might grow them instead. Because you'll already have them on your side and you can easily target them to win more work. If you've never gone down the road of business development, here are some top tips to help you grow your existing clients.
Get your priorities right
Once you have a happy customer nurture them. Ensure they get the best possible customer service. Always respond to their needs and make them a priority over trying to win new clients. The more energy you put into retaining your existing clients, the better. Because once you've got them, you have the opportunity to grow with them.
Listen and take note
During telephone conversations, Skype conferences and meetings, listen very carefully to what your client is saying. They might be giving clues as to where you could potentially expand your business with them. Be alert and make suggestions that would involve more of your time and expertise.
Hire outside and mark-up
If your client needs something that you can't provide, don't just pass another freelancer's details onto them! Say that you can help and then bring someone in for the project. You can then make some extra money by 'marking up' the other freelancer's day rate. You can then invoice the client, and the freelancer can invoice you. For example, if you're a web developer and you can't design, hire someone who can. Or if you're a copywriter who needs a photographer, get the help you need.
Expand your services
While we're on the subject of hiring outside help, consider expanding your own business so you can offer a broader range of services. That's because clients love 'one-stop shops'. They don't want the hassle of using lots of different firms to do lots of different things. They haven't got time to mess about. By offering a comprehensive service, you'll not just make more money; you'll win more business as well.
Stay in touch
Strong client relationships are built on good communication, so always pick up the phone, send emails and tweet your customers. Don't let them forget about you or what you can do. Use e-newsletters to inform your client base of any new projects you've just completed or any exciting company news that impresses them. Read these tips on how to successfully stay in touch with clients.
The best way to grow an existing client is to come up with ideas to help them continually. Be passionate and excited about your client's business and show that you care about them being successful. Suggest recommendations during phone calls or meetings. It will not only impress them; it might win more work for you.
Offer free advice
Your clients hire you to solve problems. They need you to grow their own business. They value your skills and expertise. So the next time you're having a chat with them, and they're stuck on something, offer some free advice. Point them in the right direction and give them some pointers. Nine times out of 10 they won't have the time to do anything, so they'll ask you to help. That's when you can charge them for your time.
Clients sometimes need training on things they're not sure about. If you're an expert in a particular field, why not offer to run some workshops, charged at your hourly rate? For instance, one of my clients didn't know how to use Twitter several years ago, so I did a presentation in front of 40 of their staff. It was great fun, and I made some good money from experience. And they subsequently hired me to manage their Twitter account. Result!
Offer a free monthly MOT
Why not provide free monthly check-ups to assess how your client is doing and if there's anything you can help with. It might seem like an obvious tip, but you'd be surprised how many freelancers don't do this. Call them up, speak to them and find out if there are any problems you could help solve.
Finally, work extremely hard to win customer loyalty. It will ensure your client never goes elsewhere and continues to hire you again and again. Always be available, always be flexible and offer service with a smile. Be positive and passionate and go the extra mile to win their trust. For more tips, read this article on how to win customer loyalty.