We spend a lot of time on Freelance Folder talking about marketing. That is because good marketing is very important to a free-lancer’s success. It is important to get those clients in the door and signed up for your products or services if you are going to earn enough to really support yourself as a freelancer.
For some freelancers, though, that “in” door is actually a revolving door. If this is you, it may seem that no sooner do you get a client signed up for your products or services than they leave. You have no idea why you are losing clients, but you know that it has to stop.
This post should take some of the mystery out of why freelancers lose clients. It will also provide some tips for how to hang on to the clients that you do have.
Eight Reasons Why Your Clients Leave
There are many reasons why clients stop doing business with a freelancer. While we may never know all of those reasons, we can identify (and correct) some of the most common problems that clients have with freelancers.
Here are eight common reasons that clients stop working with a freelancer:
- Missed deadlines. In general, clients like freelancers who meet their deadlines. They want to know when they can expect a completed project. While most freelancers occasionally miss a deadline, frequent missed deadlines give your client the impression that you don’t care about them. If you must turn a project in late, contact the client and let them know when they can expect the work.
- Lack of communications. While no client has the right to expect a freelancer to be “on call” 24/7, they do have the right to expect timely answers to their questions. No client should have to wait days or weeks to get a response from a freelancer. If you will be going on vacation or otherwise unavailable, let your clients know ahead of time as a courtesy.
- Quality. Do you take shortcuts with your work? If you do, guess what? Your client can tell. The quality of your work demonstrates how thorough you are. If your work is poor or has to be redone, don’t expect your clients to stick around. You can solve this problem by having someone else check over large projects or by double-checking your work yourself.
- Talking too much. Many freelancers enter a project with a set agenda in mind–their own. Good listening skills are vital to the successful freelancer. Not only do you need to find out what the client wants, to do the best job for them you also need to find out why they want it. The only way to do that is through listening.
- Not fulfilling instructions. Nothing makes a client more upset than a freelancer who ignores their instructions. Read the project assignment over carefully until you are sure that you understand what the client wants. If you have a question about something be sure to ask it. It’s better to ask a question early than have to do rework later.
- Not keeping up with your field. What year is it? Do your business practices reflect the current trends and knowledge? If your work is out of date, then clients may want to go with a freelancer whose skills and knowledge are more current. This is why it is important for freelancers to make time to learn new things.
- Dishonesty. This should go without saying, but unfortunately there are a few dishonest freelancers out there (just as there are a few dishonest clients). My best advice to you: don’t be one of them. Any so-called benefits that you may gain through your dishonesty will be far outweighed by the hit to your reputation.
- Personality clash. Freelancers are people. Clients are people. Once in a while, they just don’t get along. While a good freelancer should be professional enough to work with many different personality types there are a few times when a freelancer should just acknowledge that they aren’t person to work with this particular client.
There’s good news, though. You don’t have to keep losing clients. You can stop the revolving door. To learn more, read the next section.
How to Keep From Losing Clients
The most important step that you can take to keep from losing clients is to recognize that you have a problem. Once you acknowledge that clients are leaving your freelance business you can begin to determine why they are leaving and take steps to correct the problem.
You can start out by reviewing the list above. Do one, or more, of these categories describe you? If so, you know what you need to do to solve the problem. Stop the offending behavior and you should start to retain more clients.
If you don’t fit into one of the categories above, don’t panic. It’s possible that you are losing clients through a misunderstanding. You may have to ask your clients why they are dissatisfied. Conduct a friendly survey of clients who have been inactive for more than a specified length of time.
How Do You Retain Clients?
Share your experience.
Have you solved a client retention problem? What did you do?
Let us know in the comments.
Conversely, are you the client of a freelancer? What would make you stop using a particular freelancer?
Share your answers in the comments.