How to Keep Your Best Clients

You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve marketed. You’ve done projects on spec, and for less than you’d like just to make a name for yourself. Finally, you’re starting to get some truly great clients. Clients that fit your ideal client profile. It’s vitally important to keep these fantastic clients.

Your best clients are the ones that are:

* Easy to work with
* Provide frequent jobs and income
* Give you a sense of joy, pride and accomplishment

So what can you do to keep your best clients? What can you do to make sure your bread and butter, your dream clients, stay with you for the long haul?

#1 Deliver more than promised. One of the best ways to ensure your clients stick around is to go above and beyond what they ask for. Imagine if you went to the dentist and they not only cleaned your teeth but whitened a few of the front ones for free? You’d be ecstatic, right? That’s a dentist you’d go back to in six months, maybe even if you’re terrified of the dentist.

#2 Become more than just a service provider. Service providers are easy to come by. Maybe not ones that are as good as you, but they’re out there by the dozens to be sure. One way to keep your customers coming back again and again is to become an advisor and someone they can turn to.

How do you accomplish this transition from service provider to consultant? Begin by offering advice and insight when it’s appropriate and relevant. When they ask you a question or for your advice, give it. Back it up with reasons why you feel the way you do and establish yourself as an expert.

#3 Honor your commitments and follow through. It might surprise you to know that your customers are probably accustomed to freelancers who flake. Many freelancers are really good about making commitments and promises, but few are good at following through. Create a no excuses policy for yourself. Always deliver on time and follow through on your commitments. You’ll surprise your customers and they’ll come back for your services again and again.

#4 Touch base. Sometimes clients drop away for a while. Make sure they keep you in the front of their mind by touching base with them from time to time. Connect with them on social media sites. When you come across some industry information you think they might benefit from, send them a note. Keeping your customer in mind will help them remember you when they need your services.

Keeping your best customers is about offering exceptional customer service. It’s about taking the extra steps to let them know they’re important to you. It’s well worth the effort. You’ve come a long way. Keep your best customers and make your freelance life all you dreamed it would be.

How to Find More Great Clients

Whether your freelance business is exactly where you want it or you’re looking to grow, it pays to spend some time filling your rolodex with great clients. After all, the more clients you have, the more money you’ll make. Here are a few ways to find all the great clients you could ever want.

#1 Network – One of the best ways to find great clients is to put yourself out there. Networking online and offline is a fantastic way to meet wonderful people and future customers. Online, take a look at industry chat rooms and forums. Don’t forget the mainstream social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too.

Offline, check out your local small business association, chamber of commerce or other industry associations.

#2 Blog – Blogging is a fantastic way to share your experience, knowledge and skills with prospective clients. You can combine networking with your blogging endeavors and post links to your new blog posts on your networking sites.

Blogging will help drive potential customers to your services. Search engine results and external links will both help you build your client base.

#3 Referrals – If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to build your client base with great clients, ask your current best clients to refer others. You can even go so far as to offer a referral bonus in the form of cash or a discount on services.

#4 Affiliates – Depending on the size of your business and your desired business goals, you may benefit from an affiliate program. Paying others a commission to promote your business takes a bit of planning; however, it can really be worth it. You may end up building an empire.

#5 Free information – Okay, so you’re blogging, networking and you have an affiliate team or a referral program. What else can you do? You can offer free information about your industry. Think about your target audience and the problems they have.

If you are a freelance graphic designer, you might create a report about the five reasons why you need a quality logo. If you’re a freelance writer, you might offer a report on how to hire a freelance writer. Free information drives traffic to your website and services. It also demonstrates your credibility as an expert in your industry. Create free reports and publish articles, and you can even create free worksheets, online courses and newsletters.

There are clients out there just waiting for you to present yourself. Use your skills, knowledge and resources to attract your ideal customer. Give them every reason to hire you for their next project and every project thereafter.

How to Find Your Ideal Client

Being a freelancer has definite perks. You have the freedom to choose your hours. You can call in sick without feeling guilty. And of course you’re in control of who you work with and the projects you work on. However, in the beginning and certainly throughout your freelance career you’ll likely take projects that are with clients you’d rather pass on. Many freelancers struggle to find their ideal clients.

What Is Your Ideal Client?

Before you can go on a scavenger hunt for your ideal client, you want to identify what makes them ideal. Is it a topic, project type or subject matter that you find ideal? Do you prefer certain communication styles? Are you looking for someone who is detail oriented or someone who lets you manage the details? Do you want to work together as a team or would you rather work alone?

Many people view their ideal client as someone who provides them with a constant stream of well-paying work. That’s certainly a bonus. However, if you don’t enjoy working with that client or on their projects, the money isn’t going to be as fun to earn. They won’t be an ideal client.

Take some notes or jot down an idea of who your ideal client is. Daydream for a minute and imagine who they are. This is your ideal client profile. Keep this information where you can review it often.

Finding Your Ideal Client

The next step is to explore where your ideal client may hang out. Do they participate on industry forums? Are they in your local networking group? Find out where they hang out and make yourself a part of their world.

For example, if your ideal client is a small business blogger interested in parenting and child-related topics, then you may network on small business blogging sites or parenting sites. Check out the people who are hanging out there too. Connect with them.

Introduce yourself. Perhaps you already know who your ideal client is. Maybe you love the products a company offers, you like their personality and would love to work with them. Then by all means hold out your virtual hand and introduce yourself. Let them know you admire their work. Tell them what you do and offer your services. Consider offering a project on spec. That way they get to know you and the amazing freelance work you do, and there’s no risk to them.

Ask for an introduction. If you know people who know people, tell them who your ideal client is and ask for referrals and introductions. If there’s one thing everyone should have been taught in school, it is that hard work is only part of the success equation. Who you know is also important, and it makes the trip to success street much faster and easier.

Finding your ideal client isn’t difficult. Describe them in a paragraph or two; create an ideal client profile. Then seek them out online and off. Ask for introductions and referrals. Connect with them and don’t be shy. Your ideal client may be looking for an ideal freelancer – you!

How to Build Your Freelance Blog

Having an online presence is imperative for anyone with a freelance career. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skills and knowledge. It also makes it easy for prospects to find you and connect with you. However, not all websites are created equal and a blog may be a much more effective and efficient means of connecting with prospects. Here’s how to build your freelance blog.

#1 Choose your platform. Most experts and bloggers will advise going with WordPress. It’s the most commonly used blogging platform. It’s easy to use and customize yourself – you don’t have to hire a pro to get the job done.

Additionally, there are more widgets and plug-ins available for WordPress than any other blogging platform. This means you can basically ask a WordPress blog to do just about anything you need it to do. Finally, WordPress is free, and although you do have to pay a few dollars to host it yourself rather than on WordPress, it’s worth the money to have your own URL. You can also find quality WordPress templates for free, or you can buy a predesigned template that fits your needs.

If you don’t want to use WordPress, take a look at Blogger, Typepad, and Tumblr. There are many free and paid blogging platforms to choose from.

#2 Decide what you want your blog to accomplish BEFORE you begin creating it. What do you want your blog to focus on? Presumably, you’re marketing your services as a freelancer, right? What static pages do you want to have? For example, you probably need a bio, a rates page, and a contact page.

What else do you need? Plan your blog before you create it. What categories will you post your content in? What sites will you link to, if any? Will you integrate your social networking activities into your blog? Answer these questions before you create your blog and it’ll look a lot more put together.

#3 Start posting. Make sure each post is relevant to your audience. Each post should have a purpose. The purpose can be to drive traffic, to make an announcement or to highlight a promotion. It can also be simply to provide valuable information to your audience or to solve a problem they have. Consider creating a content plan and plan a month’s worth of posts in advance. That way, you’re never at a loss for what to write about – you’ve already brainstormed a solution.

Note that it’s also a nice idea to find guest bloggers to help you out. It adds value to your blog and helps position you as a credible resource in your industry.

Blogging is one of the best ways to build your freelance business. It helps drive traffic to your site and increase awareness. It also helps establish your credibility. If you’re not blogging yet, consider adding one to your current website or changing your website to a blog.

How Much Should You Spend to Market Your Freelance Services?

Building a successful freelance business doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen without some hard work. In addition to providing exceptional results and services, you also need to market your business.

However, how much time and money you should spend to market your business is up for a bit of debate. Here are a few considerations when deciding how much time and money to devote to your marketing.

#1 What are your business goals? If you aspire to have a small, part-time practice and you only need two to three clients to make that a reality, then you may not need to spend a ton of time and money marketing. On the other hand, if you aspire to have a large number of ongoing clients and to perhaps expand your business, then you’ll likely be investing a bit more into your marketing strategy.

#2 Who is your audience? Who you’re marketing to makes a difference in the amount of time and money you devote to the task. For example, if your audience is small business owners in your community, then they may be more receptive to hiring you. However, if you’re marketing to Fortune 500 businesses, then you’re going to have to devote a lot of time and energy to get their attention.

#3 How much time and money do you have? Realistically, you can only spend as much time or money as you have, right? So how much time and money do you have to devote to building your business? Take some time to determine how much you have in both areas.

#4 Follow recommendations. Many business experts recommend two things. They recommend spending half of your time marketing your business. This includes not only creating your marketing strategy but also implementing your marketing tactics and following up.

They also often recommend turning all of your profits for the first year back around into marketing your business. Of course that makes it difficult to eat and put a roof over your head. If you can follow this advice, by all means do. However, if that budget simply isn’t realistic, evaluate how much you need to live on and how much you can reinvest in your business.

#5 Where can you cut back? There are many areas in business where you can cut back. For example, instead of paying for an 800 number, you can get a Google number for free. Instead of hiring someone to custom design a website, you can install a WordPress website yourself.

There are also areas where you can get creative or better manage your time. For example, if it takes you a long time to send invoices and manage your finances, maybe you can trade with a bookkeeper and write copy for them, create a logo or manage their blog or website in exchange.

There’s no question that marketing your business is an important part of building and growing your freelance business. However, how much time and money you spend on marketing it depends largely on your goals and resources. Spend them wisely. To your success!

Managing Freelance Cash Flow

Managing cash flow is one of the most difficult challenges for any business owner, regardless of their size. Bills may come when you don’t have any money in your account. Clients pay at inconvenient times and worse, they sometimes don’t pay at all. When you’re a freelancer, managing cash flow is extremely important. Without a good system, you can go into debt quickly. Let’s take a look at a few expert tips to make sure you stay in the black each month.

#1 Collect a deposit before starting a project. Some freelancers actually collect 100% of the project’s estimated cost before starting. If you have a fantastic reputation in your industry, you can probably get away with this. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to collect 50% in advance. This ensures you’ve at least collected half of the project’s costs and you’ll have cash to work with.

#2 Make your invoices due upon receipt. Many companies are accustomed to working with a net 10 or net 30 invoice. This means they don’t have to pay it for ten or thirty days. When your invoices are due upon receipt it can throw them and their accounting department for a loop. Make sure your customers know your terms before signing on to work with them. Implement consequences if customers don’t pay on time.

For example, add a late fee for every day or week a payment is late. Make sure this is clear in advance so your customers are not unhappily surprised. You can also offer a discount to clients who pay on time to motivate them to pay quickly.

#3 Invoice right away. It may seem like common sense; however, many freelancers wait to invoice. Don’t wait. As soon as you deliver that project, invoice them. Even if there are going to be revisions, make the invoice part of your project delivery process.

#4 Pay your bills at the last possible moment. Again, this may seem like common sense; however, many folks are inadvertently giving away money. Hold onto your cash and earn interest as long as you can. Afraid you’re going to miss a due date and incur late fees? Using automatic bill pay helps you make sure payments are on time and you can schedule them for the last possible day. (You’ll also save money on stamps.)

#5 Reward clients with ongoing projects. When you have a client that has regular work, reward them for that. Set up a discount for regular work – we’re talking a project every week or month here – and agree to invoice them at the end of the month. This way, you have guaranteed cash flow and they get a discount. It’s a win-win.

It’s tough to know when your next paycheck is coming sometimes. By taking a few steps to manage your cash flow and offer incentives for repeat business and fast payment, you help to ensure you never have to use that credit card to buy groceries again.

Top Tips from Super Affiliates

Top Tips from Super Affiliates

A super affiliate is someone who generates a significant amount of profits for the products or services they represent. Many super affiliates make six figures simply promoting the products and services of others. Sounds good, right?

Here are five top tips from super affiliates:

Tip #1 Build a strong content foundation. Content drives traffic to your website. It builds awareness. It boosts your credibility and authority in your industry. It gives people a reason to come back to your website. It increases your search engine page ranking. It provides value to your visitors. And content, each and every piece of content you publish, can be used to promote an affiliate product or service.

In short, content is your single most important business asset. Possible content forms include:

* Autoresponders.
* E-newsletters.
* Blogs posts
* Audio messages
* Video messages or content
* Social networking posts
* Articles
* Press releases
* Reports
* Ebooks

Mix it up, too! Choose several forms of content to use to build and grow your affiliate business.

Tip #2 Track and test. Make sure you know where your prospects are coming from. What content works best for your audience? What types of content or links motivate them to click through? What pages do they visit on your website? What keywords do they use? All of this information is essential to building an affiliate business that meets and responds to prospects’ needs.

Tip #3 Go beyond the standard banners and buttons. It’s fine to use the marketing materials your affiliate program provides. However, as mentioned in Tip #1, content is really what works. Create your own content, promotions and brand to promote your affiliate products and services.

Tip #4 Build a community and a brand. You are a business. And to be a successful business, a brand image and a community are necessary. Building a community around your website and providing valuable content is a sure way to create a following that trusts you and your credibility – which results in click throughs and commissions. And social networking is perhaps one of the most useful tools to build a community and communicate your brand image.

Tip #5 Communicate and follow up with customers. Regular communication is the best way to continue to motivate purchases. Build an opt in list and create a plan to provide them with regular and valuable information. Each ezine or autoresponder you send can promote but it should also inform. Continuing to connect with your audience is essential for super affiliate success.

In today’s market building an affiliate business is about building a community and connecting with others who are interested in your topic. Get online, blog, comment on blogs, network and drive traffic to your site with content.

Turning Your Passion or Hobby into an Affiliate Goldmine

Turning Your Passion or Hobby into an Affiliate Goldmine

Do you have a strong passion for a particular topic or a hobby you could happily spend each waking hour focused on? Most people have something they’re passionate about. It could be knitting, making rocking chairs, collecting pencils, soap operas, shoes, making beer, you name it there’s someone who has a passion for it.

What are you passionate about? What’s your hobby? Wouldn’t it be great if you could also make money from your unique passion?

You can as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketing is a great way to build an online income part time or full time, you can work from home. It’s extremely low risk and it’s easy to learn.

Here’s how to turn your passion or hobby into an affiliate goldmine:

1. Choose the passion/hobby you’re going to build a website or blog around. You’re going to be writing, thinking about, planning and talking about your topic every day. Make sure it’s a topic you’re passionate about.

2. Make a list of 50 article topics or blog posts you can write, record as an audio or make a video about. If you’re passionate about your topic then you’ll be able to easily come up with 50 things you want to talk about. And know that you don’t have to write if writing isn’t your thing. You can make audio recordings or make videos too. You just need to be able to enthusiastically discuss your topic.

3. Get online and research affiliate programs. Look in affiliate directories and visit the websites of companies you have used, respect and enjoy. Look for affiliate programs that have a good reputation.

4. Create your website or blog. There are many options here, one of the easiest is to purchase a domain name and set a WordPress blog up on it. There are tutorials and guides to help you do this yourself.

5. Grab that list of 50 topics and start creating content. Content is your foundation and the way you’re going to attract visitors and make sales. Content can be in the form of:

* Reviews
* Articles
* Reports
* Case studies
* Interviews
* Courses
* Audio and video content too!

Be sure to strategically place your affiliate links in your content. The goal is to inform your audience and presell relevant products or services.

For example, if your passion is knitting and you’re talking about a holiday knitting project you might link to a store where you buy your patterns, assuming you’re an affiliate for them. Your reader may click through and make a purchase earning you a commission.

6. Create a plan to market your affiliate business. The more people who see your content and visit your blog or website, the more money you can make. It just makes sense to promote your business. Social networking is a great way to accomplish this because it lets you interact directly with other people who are interested in your topic.

However you can also use:

* PPC
* Banner and text advertising
* Article marketing
* Newsletter/ezine marketing
* Joint venture partnerships

There’s little that is as rewarding as making money doing something you love. Why not take a few steps to turn your passion or hobby into an affiliate goldmine? There’s little to no risk and the joy and wealth that can be obtained may be life changing.

Sure Fire Ways To Promote Affiliate Offers

Sure Fire Ways To Promote Affiliate Offers

Affiliates make money by promoting and preselling the products and services of others. There are many ways to promote affiliate offers including banner ads, pay per click ads and advertising on websites. However, there are other more powerful and effective affiliate promotion strategies.

Let’s take a look at a few surefire ways to promote affiliate offers.

Reviews

Reviews are one of the most powerful ways to promote affiliate offers. Before many people make a purchase, they look for product reviews to help them make a decision. They use reviews to compare features, prices, and of course to help justify their buying decision.

You can tap into this need by writing quality reviews for the products you represent. A good review will identify the product features and benefits. It will present all the pros and cons of the product in an honest light. Presenting your review in the most unbiased manner possible will help your readers trust you and what you have to say.

When writing your review, don’t make it sound or read like a sales page. That’s the job of the company sales page you’re linking to. The review should be designed to presell the product. And of course, be sure to include a link or two to the product sales page so you can earn a commission.

Articles

Just like reviews, people read online to learn more about a problem they have or a desire they wish to fulfill. Articles, designed to inform and help people solve their problems will be read, passed along and linked to. When you include links in these articles to your affiliate products, you make sales. It’s one of the strongest ways to promote affiliate products.

Publish articles on your website, as blog posts, in your newsletter or ezine, on partner websites and blogs and on article marketing sites that allow affiliate links.

Audio and Video

Just like articles, audio and video content is also a great way to promote affiliate products. Unfortunately, it’s tough to link to products in audio and video. That being said, there are ways to link in audio and video content and you can work around it by referencing a link to the product on your website or blog.

Reports and Ebooks

At this point you might be noticing a trend – content is a great way to promote affiliate products. Reports and ebooks offer a tremendous amount of value to the reader because they take a larger look at how to solve a problem. They’re more in depth than a standard article. For example a book or report on dog housebreaking is going to be a lot more detailed and potentially helpful than an article on the same topic.

Just like in an article, you would include links to relevant affiliate products in the reports and ebooks.

If you’re looking for surefire ways to promote your affiliate products, you can’t go wrong with content. Any form of content, as long as it offers your readers value and benefit, is a great vehicle for affiliate promotion. Get busy creating your content strategy today!

How to Write a Profit Pulling Product Review

How to Write a Profit Pulling Product Review

Reviews are a superb form of content for affiliate marketers to produce. By design, they offer benefit to a prospect and they’re a natural piece to include links to the affiliate product’s sales page.

However, in order to write a review that actually motivates click throughs, there are a few steps and secrets to know.

Step #1 You’re not selling in a review, you’re providing information. Present the information honestly and accurately. Tell readers what the product is and what it does.

Step #2 Stress benefits. What makes the product different? Who benefits from the product? This is also a great place to tell a story. Talk about a situation where someone used the product and what they gained.

Step #3 Present yourself as an unbiased reviewer. Point out any drawbacks to the product or service you’re reviewing. However, be sure to counter those drawbacks subtly. It’s like when you go to an interview and they ask you to tell them your weaknesses. You turn them into strengths, right? Do the same with any drawbacks the product might have.

For example, if it’s more expensive than other comparative products, that’s a drawback. But it may also offer more in-depth information and strategies – this would override the obvious drawback.

Step #4 Include the details. Subjective information is great but people also want to know the details. What does it cost? Where can they purchase it? And are there any promotions they should know about that can save them money?

Tip – Your goal in a review is to presell, but to presell the product or service subtly. Take care to watch the language you use, no hype. And make sure to present yourself in a credible manner – you want to present yourself as a legitimate expert on your topic.

Tip – Consider being honest about the fact that you’re an affiliate for the product. Most people don’t care and they may respect your honesty. Consider doing a split test for this if you have doubts about this high level of transparency.

Write one review where you tell people you’re an affiliate for the product (towards the end where you provide a link to the sales page). Write another review where you don’t tell your readers you’re an affiliate. Track the results. Authenticity and transparency are more than the latest internet marketing buzz words.

Tip – Combine reviews of several like products in one article or post. You can be an affiliate for all the products or only some of them, the choice is yours.
Reviews are a great form of content for an affiliate marketer. They provide value and offer all the benefits content offers for business growth and profits.