2 Secret Follow-up Methods for Freelance Writers That Really Work

by Anne Wayman

follow-upSome writers swear they never follow-up, others spend hours trying to figure out when and how they should follow-up with potential clients. I got tired of both approaches and asked the client what I should do. I was amazed!

Follow-up secret #1

It happened this way. I was calling (I’ll name him) Jack for the umteenth time because he’d said he thought he’d like to hire me but wasn’t sure when. So I noted in my calendar to call him in three weeks time. He was pleasant and thanked me but we weren’t getting any closer to a gig for me. Finally I just asked him.

“Jack, do you want me to follow-up with you?”

“Oh yes,” he assured me.

“So how often?”

“Well, I do want to hire you for the web content we’ve been talking about,” he said slowly. “We won’t be ready for another month or two. How about you call me in a month. I should know more then.”

That felt so good and so different than my usual silent guessing, I tried it on another would-be client. This time when I asked,


“Do you want me to follow-up?” the response was different.

“I always enjoy talking with you Anne, but the truth is we’re not going to be hiring an outside writer for at least a year and the truth is we’re unlikely to hire outside even then.”

Although I didn’t get the result I wanted exactly, our conversation still felt good to me. I wasn’t begging, I wasn’t guessing, I was treating the client and myself as equals! The more often I use this ‘trick’ the better it feels and the better it works.

I’m not sure why I’m so surprised. We are in a service business. Most of our clients or potential clients are adults and know what they want and need. Asking them if and how they want us to follow-through only makes sense.

Follow-up Secret #2

Once I had the clients telling me what they needed because I asked, I realized I needed to add one more refinement. If the time they give me is more than a month a way I’ll cut that time short.

For instance, if a potential client tells me to call back in six months, I’ll schedule the follow-through for three months. If they ask me to call in a month I’ll usually call in three weeks.

The reason I do it this way is I know things often change in a hurry. By cutting their suggestion in half I’m reducing the likely hood they will start without me because they’ve lost track of me. So far not one person has said “hey, you said you’d call in six months and it’s only been three” or anything like that. Most vaguely remember me and that I asked them when I should touch base, but that’s all they remember.

Sometimes I’ll even tell them I cut their estimate in half and ask them if that’s okay with them. Usually they say yes. Once in awhile they assure me it will be at least as long as they stated. Often we chuckle at the difficulties in projecting when they’ll need a freelance writer.

I’m free of the fear of offending or being a pest and the client is happier too I suspect because I’ve included them in the follow-up decision making.

What do you think? Will you try this method? Or not?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer

 

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

George C July 3, 2017 at 10:22 pm

That’s a really cool follow-up secret, the second one I mean.

In fact, it kind of reminds me of one of my biggest role models for success. Have you heard of Grant Cardone? Something he suggests people do is the 10X Rule.

It’s essentially having your goal in your head, but then scaling it tenfold so that instead of settling for just ‘mediocre’ results, you’re forcing yourself to put in every bit of effort you’re able to spare in everything you do.

Just wanted to add that in haha, it might be something new to you and you seem like the type of person that’d agree with it wholeheartedly — since the gist of your second secret and Grant’s rule kind of feels similar: choosing to take what was initially expected, and altering it for a better outcome.

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Anne Wayman July 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

George, I’ll think about 10xing, thanks.

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Laurence June 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm

It’s a different way to how I have been doing things. I get clients saying they want to hire me for more work but then the communication goes dead until I email them again. So scheduling follow-ups isn’t something I have done but it is what I will now do.

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Anne Wayman June 25, 2017 at 8:54 am

Let us know how it works, if it does, for you.

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Lori June 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Yes, I sure will! What an easy method to gauge a client’s interest! What I like about this is it also creates a space for them to be honest with you.

Sometimes I think we writers are so intent on making the sale we forget that there may not be one to make. Not everyone will say yes, and that’s okay. We don’t buy everything we’re offered, either.

You’re not losing a sale when you say this, either. That sale was never there. But look at the great impression you left behind!

Reply

Anne Wayman June 21, 2017 at 7:19 am

Exactly. My only regret about this is it took me a long time to discover it.

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