Marketing and looking for new clients is extremely important for small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It’s how you grow and expand, right?
When you’re looking for ways to expand your business, the first thing most people do is look for new clients.
This is not a bad thing! In fact, I know that effective marketing and sales is imperative to the success of any freelancer.
But there are two key things many freelancers and entrepreneurs overlook when they are wanting new/expanded business and more money.
#1: Expand your work with existing clients.
It is easier and less expensive to keep a client than it is to get a new one. Both in terms of money (such as any marketing spending or other customer acquisition costs) and time (time spent maintaining a current client versus the time it takes to market and talk to and retain a new one).
That’s why strong customer service is so important for small businesses and freelancers. People want to work with freelancers who do a great job, stay organized, and are easy to work with. They continue working with you because you get stuff done and make it easy for them to keep the relationship going.
Price and rates are not generally the deciding factor in maintaining a client/freelancer relationship — or not usually the main factor (after all, they already agreed to your rates and hired you).
So, you have great customer service, are easy to work with, and your client likes you. What’s next?
Now, it’s time to expand the work you do for them. You already have a foot in the door — why not blow the door wide open?
Consider your offerings and what the client is currently getting and send them an email or, as I prefer to do for this, have a casual conversation.
I don’t make it into a big thing or make some formal announcement, I just take every opportunity to expand what I do with my clients.
If I am already writing the text and story of a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign, I ask them if they also want me to write a script for the demo video, a press release, and/or an email marketing campaign, too.
Or if I am already ghostwriting blogs/articles for a client, I always ask if they want me to come up with topic ideas, source photos, upload the blogs to their site, and if they want me to write a couple of social media posts for each one (but not post, I do not like doing social media management).
Or if I am editing a book manuscript, I’ll ask if they are also interested in having me upload it to Amazon for them (if self-publishing) or help them write a query letter (if looking for a literary agent).
And when they are interested or if they have questions, I let them know what my new/additional rate will be to add that service onto my existing contract.
“I’m happy to do that. It’s going to be $xx per month/total on top of your existing payment. I can just add it to the same invoice. Want me to get started on that now or wait until next month/billing cycle?”
If YOU make it into a big deal or sound nervous or you over-explain or you don’t sound confident, then the client may not want to expand your services with them — even if they love working with you already.
For me, it is always a super casual conversation. “Hey, I was thinking about how you’re going to market your blog/you said yesterday you were thinking about how to market your blog. I am happy to write up 3 social media posts for each blog post I write and include hashtags for you. It would be about $50 more. Let me know which social media platforms you get the most traction on and I’ll research appropriate keywords and hashtags.”
Or something like “I know you plan to do a marketing campaign for this. What’s the plan? [listen to plan] Sounds great. I can definitely do a press release and a series of marketing emails for that. Yes, it’ll be $xx and I’ll just add it to the next invoice.”
I try to not wait for a client to ASK if I do an additional service or specific thing. I bring it up as soon as I notice they need something and offer it to them before they even need to ask.
If they have to ask then they likely are already thinking about/pricing out/considering someone for the service. Part of my customer service and relationship management strategy is anticipating their needs.
This way, when I offer myself to expand my services, I am clearly looking out for their best interests, anticipating their next need, and proving my value over and over again. I know what comes next and am experienced enough to understand their upcoming needs sometimes before they’ve started thinking about them.
As the expert, this should be something you can do, too, and it will absolutely benefit you to verbalize it to the client as soon as you notice they’ll have another need soon. The longer you wait, the more likely they will find someone else or do it themselves.
It comes back to confidence and customer service. You must be confident in your own skills and that the work you do benefits and helps and is good for the client. And then sell it to them!
#2: Ask for referrals.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many freelancers either forget to ask for referrals, feel it is too intrusive, and/or don’t follow up.
Here are the steps you should be following:
- Every single time your wrap up a project, ask your client if they know of anyone who may need similar services. It can be as simple as: “Hey, it’s been great working with you! I currently have availability for 1–2 new clients, so if you know of anyone who needs writing or editing work please let me know.”
- For monthly/retainer (not project-specific) clients, I just ask that same thing after the first month or so and again at the third and sixth month, and so on. Just every now and then mention that if anyone needs anything, I am happy to work with them.
- Every 6 months or so, check in with former clients to ask how they are doing and if they need any work now AND if they know anyone who might need something. Try another simple/easy check-in like the above: “[name], Hi, I just wanted to check in briefly and see how you’re doing. I hope you’re well and that business is booming! It was great working with you on [XYZ] last year. Are you in need of any writing or editing services now? Or do you know of anyone who may need my services? Oh, and here are a couple of recent articles I wrote that you may find interesting — [link1] [linke2]. Thank you and have a great day!”
If a client had a good experience working with you, they will generally be happy to refer you to others. Plus, no minds a brief check-in to see how they’re doing. It keeps your name at the forefront of their mind and reminds them of the work you do. Plus you provided a couple of free resources or articles they might find interesting — heck, they might even share one of them with their network, giving you new exposure to their audience.
If you’re worried it is somehow intrusive to ask for referrals, then you are not thinking with the business in mind. Have you ever in your life felt intruded upon or offended by someone saying “Great working with you! If you know of anyone who could use my services please let me know.”?
It is not intrusive to ask for referrals. It is incredibly common and even expected to a certain degree. Besides, if a client enjoyed working with you and had a good experience, why wouldn’t they be open to referring others to work with you?
Referrals are the #1 way I get new clients these days. In the last 2 years, 90% of my new clients have been referrals from others.
Those are my two best tips for expanding services with current and former clients.
Are you already doing these two things? Or one of them? If not, do you plan to incorporate them into your process?
And if you do NOT do these things — why not? What is the block or why does it feel like you “shouldn’t” or “can’t”?
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