Was it something you said?
You may be asking yourself this question when a regular client or exciting new potential client kind of fizzles away … disappearing off your radar for a while.
But it’s probably NOT something you said or did. In all likelihood, it has nothing to do with you.
When a client or potential client disappears, it could be for a number of reasons, such as:
The client’s priorities may have suddenly shifted due to something that happened in the company or marketplace
The client’s web budget could have been put on hold for a while due to the economy
The client has been juggling several projects and priorities, and may have simply gotten too busy to focus on your work at the moment
The client is waiting for project approval from the boss or business owner, who’s juggling his or her own priorities or may even be away
A major overhaul of the client’s website is taking MUCH longer than anyone imagined … stalling progress on the web content work you may have been doing
All of these scenarios have happened to me.
So, what do you do to keep business flowing along when things becomes very quiet?
Two things, mainly. Follow up with your client in a “light-touch” way … and keep pursuing new clients. Let’s address each one of these strategies:
Follow up with a light touch.
It’s perfectly acceptable to check in with your client or prospect with a friendly email or call. You could say something like, “Hi there! Just wondering about you and hoping things are going well. I saw this great article about some Google search engine changes that happened in May, and I thought you might be interested. (Include the article link.) Cheers!” That’s it.
When you do something non-pushy like this, it reminds clients or prospects that you’re out there, thinking about their business and standing by to offer assistance. And, it may prompt one of three responses from your client:
He or she may respond with a “Thank you, let’s go!” kind of message such as, “Hey I’m so glad to hear from you. We were talking about our web projects just the other day and we’re ready to move forward.” Great, huh?
He or she may respond with an update, such as, “Hey! I’m so sorry we haven’t been in touch lately. Our management team was reorganized recently, and we had to put all projects on hold for a while until the dust settles. I’ll be back in touch soon.” This shows you that it wasn’t about you at all, right? And, that your client will be getting back to you soon. Nice.
He or she may not respond at all. And that’s okay, too. I often find that when I send out a light-touch email, many of my clients don’t respond and don’t feel the need to. I know I made a little impression that shows I care about their business. This keeps me in my client’s mind so they’ll remember to contact me whenever they’re ready for more web copywriting work.
Now here’s a big word of caution about the light-touch approach: Never sound anxious or pushy. Try to avoid a “How come you haven’t called me?” tone … or worse, “What gives? I thought you liked my work and now you’ve disappeared.”
This approach will only turn into a nightmare for you because now the client or prospect is feeling some negative pressure and won’t want to work with you.
Keep all correspondence upbeat and client-friendly. Enough said.
Now, let’s move on to the other “what to do.”
Continue pursuing new clients.
Rule number one of managing a freelance web copywriting business: never stop marketing your services.
This rule becomes especially important when your workload has become thin due to disappearing clients or prospects.
Make the most of your downtime by developing some fun and engaging marketing approaches. Here are a few steps I took when I saw a gap in my workload a couple of months ago:
Make the most of your referral network. Over the years, you’ve developed professional relationships with lots of people, right? And you may have at least 50 or so email addresses for people you know through your former employment, conferences, college friends you’ve stayed in touch with, etc. So, send them an update on what you’re doing. You may be surprised by the response. I recently emailed 86 of my professional contacts when I completed the SuccessWorks SEO Certification program — a little “horn-tooting” for myself, with a spin on what this means for web marketers. I got all kinds of “Congrats!” responses, plus a number of people promised to pass my info along to someone they know who needs help with their websites. I also received three immediate leads for work and talked with one of them yesterday. So there you go.
Reach out to companies you’d like to work for. Joshua Boswell has mastered the fine art of contacting companies he’d like to work for, and I’ve tried some of his approaches. They work! For example, I called a niche company I admire and left a voicemail about how much I’d love to work with them if they use outside copywriters. The message was forwarded to the new VP of Marketing, and we have a call scheduled on Friday. No kidding.
Keep writing great content for your own website. Make sure your materials are fresh, optimized with keywords in an ethical way, and 100% focused on what your clients and prospects are looking for. Remember, your website is a sample of the work you do. Create a new FREE REPORT. Or do a case study on a recent client project that went really well. Add new testimonials. Update your client list. Do everything you can to remain relevant and value-focused. You can use these updates as part of your “light-touch” approach with existing clients and prospects, too. For example, I emailed a bunch of folks when I added a new case study to my website. It featured a real estate client who was featured on HGTV thanks to the web-SEO content I helped him create on his site. This led to a new client who was ready to update her site.
This is just the beginning of the many things you can do during quiet times … and also during busy times. Because you never know when another client or prospect may disappear for a while.
If you “Mind the Gap,” as they say in the English subway system, you probably won’t have as many of them in your work load.
[Editor’s Note: Pam Foster is a senior copywriter, web consultant, 28-year marketing veteran, and author of two popular AWAI programs, The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits, and Site Audits Made Simple. These two programs prepare you to work your web copywriting magic when clients, previous leads, and new prospects come knocking on your door!]