7 Ways To Impress Clients So They Love You...Without Doing More Work
My favorite part of the sometimes arduous freelance workflow is turning in the final approved project. It is just so satisfying to hear a client say they love it or to thank you for your time spent making their life better.
I think we can all agree that the satisfaction of a job well done is great, but notably less exciting than the payment coming through. We've got bills to pay after all!
So what if I told you that there was a way to make that payday moment even more exciting? Yeah man, I'm talking about bonuses.
Did you even know that freelance bonuses were a thing? As a new freelancer, I had no idea! But I can now confidently tell you that it is something that happens...and it happens all the time. You just have to know how to impress clients.
Which doesn't have to mean more work for you!
How To Impress Clients
When I got my first bonus as a freelancer I was legitimately confused. I was using Upwork (a great platform if you dedicate time to it!) to land freelance gigs and there is a very clear system of how much you get paid per hour, per project, or per milestone.
Like I was expecting a very specific number. When I received more than that number I felt faced with a bit of an ethical dilemma, wondering if I should tell the client that something went wrong and I unintentionally got their money.
Come to find out, the client was just really happy with the work I did and wanted to give me a little bit extra to show their appreciation. Now I can't remember exactly what I had done in that situation, but that only proves the point of this post even more.
You don't have to double the work you turn in, pick up the client's dry cleaning, or re-write the laws of physics. You can get bonuses for your freelance work without adding anything to your workload. Or at least very little. I'm not saying you can simply smile a little wider (well, you sort of can...more on that below), and expect them to pay off your credit card.
If you've been freelancing for at least 5 minutes you know that the name of the game is how much quality work you can do, for the pay you need, in as quick a turnaround as possible. You know how valuable it is to make clients happy, while not doing an unbelievable amount of work 14 hours a day.
So let's look at 7 ideas to wow clients- ways you can go "above and beyond" for them and get those bonuses you deserve! Without adding more to your workload.
1. Hand Your Work In Early
I've had clients who respond to my emails literally once a week and others who want to talk to me on email, Zoom, and Viber several days in a row. As a freelancer, any given day can be a balance of 150 different schedules. A bit of a challenge, but if you can put this tip into action without sacrificing other deadlines or quality of work...do it.
The end result is what it is, so you're not necessarily increasing your workload. If they want it done by EOD, sending it earlier in the morning could be grounds for a really happy client.
A word of caution. Don't rush a project and submit 3 days early hoping for extra cash. If your work is subpar (or just bad), the client will probably be wondering why didn't use the full timeline and submit what they actually wanted.
You can also think of it this way. I got off the phone with a Wix client this year and immediately started the work on their site. I wasn't overbooked that day, full disclosure, but it was also something I could do relatively fast. To me, doing a pretty routine task while it was fresh on my mind made the most sense.
To her, some website updates that had bothered her for weeks were solved crazy fast. Her new freelancer heard her problem and fixed it immediately, not only solving the issue but prioritizing her above everything else. To her, that was bonus-worthy.
2. Be A Human. A Friendly Human.
Remember when I said you can sort of smile big and wide and be rewarded for it? It will probably come as no shock to you that I didn't mean it literally...but being a nice, friendly face actually can have monetary rewards. And my friend, it doesn't add to your workload to be personable and easy to talk to.
When you're looking for freelance jobs, I'm sure you come across a lot of different types of people looking to hire. And a portion of them probably aren't your...cup of tea.
Well, it's no different on their end! Working with people in a freelance capacity can be disastrous for some if they hire the wrong person. And the actual process of weeding out those who aren't serious or qualified can be tough. Stand out as a freelancer by showing interest in the client's business or even their life. Crack a (reasonable) joke or two. Be nice.
I had a discovery call one time where she asked me if I was a cat or a dog person.
Seriously. Right after, "how good are you with Google Suite?" she wanted to know if I liked domestic furry animals.
Especially if you're going to be working with someone long-term or representing them on their website or social media, showing interest, compassion, and personality can lead straight to bonuses.
3. Follow The Instructions
Don't skip this one just because you think it's obvious. It's not as obvious as you might think. Do you remember in school when the teacher would say write your name and only use a number 2 pencil? And there were like 6 or 7 students that just...didn't do it?
As dumb as the little requests were, those were the instructions. You didn't do them and you lost points. You did them and maybe you got a gold star.
If gold stars were freelance bonuses, then following directions is a no-brainer. There's no guarantee that doing exactly what you were asked to will get you special treatment. But it at least gives you that chance.
Say your client has tried 2 or 3 other freelancers recently that justttt missed the mark on a few things that were asked of them. Or they had to ask them twice to do something that they were told in the parameters of the assignment. Then you come in like a knight in shining armor, actually listen, and execute flawlessly.
I'd call that bonus territory.
4. Say Yes To Quick Turn Arounds
I've written for a few agencies as an "overbooked" consultant of sorts. Meaning I'm a freelancer for their writing business that sometimes leaves them a bit overworked, struggling to meet deadlines. Which of course leads to me getting messages saying an article needs to be done today or has a very short turnaround.
If you can swing it, take on projects that need to be done ASAP. You automatically have the leverage to ask for a higher fee. You could say:
"Normally this would take me 1 week to complete and I charge $100 for those projects. I'm confident that I can get this back to you in 2 days. Given the extra hours and quick turnaround, the cost of this project will be $200."
Or something like that. Maybe leave out what you usually charge and just let them know that with a quick turnaround for a project of this caliber... my rate is XYZ. You can leverage a higher fee or maybe even get a bonus just for being so willing and helpful in their time of need.
5. Share Your Wisdom
You're skilled in your area of freelancing. That's why you're doing it! You've picked up hacks and tricks along the way that make you better at your job and help your clients find success through your services.
When working with a client, things are bound to come up. I manage a website for one of my long-term clients. He's not familiar with the platform or design, but since I am, I can recommend additional features that should go onto the homepage as his business grows. I don't have to, since the purview of my job is sending out newsletters and doing social media. Sharing extra advice only makes me look better in his eyes and doesn't cause me any extra stress. He's always grateful.
That said, stay in your lane. If you're there to write a single blog post for a company's blog, maybe don't give opinions about their product's production system. At the end of the day, you're a freelancer but they're your boss. You're capturing their vision. And unless they ask for your advice on certain areas outside of yours, you probably should keep it to yourself.
6. Be Consistent
I said this a few points ago, but finding a good freelancer is a CHALLENGE. And that's because there are a lot of freelancers out there who don't do the best job. Whether they're inexperienced or really don't care about the job, a lot of freelancers just disappear. From time to time or just like...entirely.
Being a consistent freelancer can help you stand out above the rest. Respond to emails timely. Even if you can't fix/complete/etc the request that very day, let them know you're working on it, where you are in the process, or simply that you've gotten the email. I try to never let a client's email go unanswered for more than 2 days.
A brief personal anecdote to really let this sink in. I got an email from a writing client, and while I saw it, I don't think I ever opened it. I wasn't actively avoiding it, but I was working on her stuff and other projects and just pushing it down on my to-dos. Before I knew it, a few days had gone by and another email popped up in which she was asking me if I was okay.
She was an incredibly nice person and was genuinely asking if I was okay because she hadn't heard from me, but the nightmarish feeling in my chest was the same. You cannot let a client think you're ghosting them, especially if they've already sent you money or signed your contract.
Her response could have been much more upset (honestly, rightfully so) and resulted in me losing her favor. Not only that, being a more consistent worker could have led to bonuses and a continued contract.
7. Work...Well. Do Good Work.
At first glance this tip probably has you thinking what on Earth is she talking about?! Of course, I'm going to write (or whatever you're doing) to the best of my ability. But let me explain what I mean.
I'm applying this to writing, but I've sort of seen it when I'm content creating for brands also and I'm sure it applies in other situations. First off, most writers don't realize how good they are. And further, most freelance writers assume clients want better writing than they actually do.
Senior year in high school I took two English classes for literally no reason and went on to get my Bachelor's in Literature. Needless to say, I wasn't submitting papers that I wrote half-assedly. So now, I repeatedly have to take a step back and remind myself that I'm no longer handing in a literature thesis to a professor with 16 PhDs.
Quite literally sometimes, I'm handing in a blog post about what to do when you have a bug infestation or about the latest show I've watched on Netflix. Now I'm not saying these topics don't deserve thoughtful writing or that I should submit something riddled with grammar errors.
But more often than not, my final product exceeds what was expected.
What has that resulted in? You guessed it. Bonuses! Some people get an article back and are like whoa. I'm not tooting my own horn (well not completely anyway), but simply pointing out that truly good work is actually how to impress clients.
Of course, better writing tends to require more effort, even if you write for a living. So don't write the next Shakespeare for a $9 gig. (Unless it's that easy for you.) But there's been a few times when I could have stopped making revisions or skipped an extra proofread, and the extra step resulted in really happy clients that got so much more than they envisioned.
Impress Clients and Win More Business
At the end of the day, freelance life is all about getting current clients to want to work with you long-term. It's normal to feel a little concerned about drop-off, so one of the best things you can do is learn how to impress clients and win more business with them.
I hope that these tips for going "above and beyond" as a freelance writer or digital creator help you get some bonuses, impress the heck out of your clients, and get more out of your work...without actually doing more work. You've got enough to do!