I'm currently nine months into building my freelance business on the side. So far, my favorite part of this job is getting repeat business from existing clients. I love it because I don't have to aggressively market myself to get work from them, and I already know they're good on payment—something that's always a bit of a risk with a new client.
As a part-time freelancer, I hate marketing and contacting new clients. It's a necessary part of this business, but it takes up a lot of my time that I'd rather dedicate to writing. So when I get more work from an existing client, it makes my day.
Copywriting guru Bob Bly points out that repeat business can offer some of your most lucrative opportunities because you are already familiar with the client and they are already familiar with you. "You can charge the same price per job, or maybe even more if they like you. But you can do the jobs much faster because of the knowledge you have accumulated," Bly says.
In addition, repeat clients have more of an opportunity to get to know you and your work ethic. If you have a good relationship with them, you may be able to approach them for a recommendation for your portfolio or Web site.
So how exactly do you go about getting repeat business?
Be professional with every assignment. This is the biggie. Clients won't want to hire you again if you miss deadlines or turn in sloppy writing. Do your best to be an editor's dream writer. Don't just satisfy your clients; delight them. Turn in assignments ahead of the deadline. Edit your writing until it's as flawless as possible before submitting it. If the editor asks for rewrites, do them without complaint (within reason, of course) to match the editor's requests.
Don't be shy about your services. I have a link to this blog and my Web site in my e-mail signature. A few weeks ago, one of my regular SEO clients followed the link to this blog and saw that I also do editing work. She asked me if I'd also be interested in editing for her. Since I like this client and they've always been great to work with, I said yes. Since then, my amount of work for this one client has doubled.
Ask for repeat business. Whenever I send in a completed article or editing assignment, I tell my clients that it was a pleasure working with them and that I'd be happy to take on more work in the future. Editors like working with established writers whom they can trust. Make sure they know that you're available and willing to take on more assignments.
Don't rest on your laurels. Just because you've gotten repeat business from a client doesn't mean you can slack off. Approach every assignment from a repeat client with the same professionalism as you did with the first assignment. Make your editor glad that he or she assigned you another project.
While you don't want to rely too much on any one client, repeat business is a great way to fuel your freelancing career.