11 Tips for Independent Contractors to Hold on to Valuable Clients
You landed a new client!
Now, how to keep your job as an independent contractor.
Finding freedom as an independent contractor took some work, and it feels so worth it now, right?!
Well, enjoy it. You deserve it!
You put together a well-written resume, a convincing cover letter, and nailed that interview…
Of course, as an independent contractor, convincing your client to keep on giving you work never ends. You want to show you’re committed to the success of their business.
In my experience as a transcription business owner, the best independent contractors follow this rule of thumb closely and consistently.
With this in mind, here are the top 11 tips for independent contractors to hold on to your valuable clients!
Are You Worth Keeping Around? Prove It!
There’s a reason you’ve probably read keeping a client is cheaper and easier than landing a new one. That reason? It’s true.
If you can’t keep the clients you already have, customer acquisition can become your single highest expense.
Freedom is awesome. But, if you don’t retain clients, your own business can quickly become difficult to keep around. That’s why it’s so important to show your enthusiasm for every transcription assignment. Show the same passion for the actual work as you did in the interview process.
And, if nothing else, know this: As an independent contractor, your business will live and die on referrals. Making EVERY client feel like your most important client results in many happy customers, eager to hire you again and again.
And that’s when you’ll find they recommend you to others. Once that happens, your clients are a valuable marketing asset for your business! Cha-ching!
Be a Self-Starter
Being a remote contractor, or hiring one for that matter, is an adjustment for everyone. Clients prefer independent contractors who have experience working remotely. That’s how they know the job will be done well, on-time, and without too much guidance.
When you have remote worker experience, your client can trust you’re working and not getting distracted by other things.
Want to really impress your client? Get a jump start early—or even complete projects that aren’t due for a few more days…or even a few weeks! Trust me. If you turn work in early, your clients will love it! And…do it all the time, and you’ll get more and more work from that client.
Going above and beyond once in a while never goes unnoticed. Perhaps the best way to stand out is exploring ways to become more efficient that your client may not have thought of before!
Help you client improve their business, and you’ll be remembered forever.
As with any kind of deadline work, communication is your friend.
While turning in a project late is a sure-fire way to lose a client, if you communicate clearly and make sure your client is always aware of a project’s status, even the tough news is received better.
The best independent contractors get this. They know consistent communications helps them in the long run. Our best independent contractors set up regular calls. These can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, depending on the project. By holding regular meetings, you’ll be sure you and your client remain on the same page throughout the project.
Another communications tip? Work with your clients to uncover the best communications channel for you both. The fact is, some people do better with email…others prefer talking on the phone.
Always remember. Keeping your client up-to-speed on your project status is a must.
Let’s say you’ve read this far, and you’re thinking, “Yeah. I’m good.”
Don’t stop here!
I’ve seen some independent contractors fall flat in their business due to a lack of organization.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes.
Having a staff of remote independent contractors is becoming more and more popular…so much so, there are a ton of apps to keep teams working together effectively.
Research apps, like shared to-do lists, calendars, and CRM tools to see which works best for you and your clients. There are tons of free options so you don’t have to worry about the cost.
Having a clear set of tools to use with your clients keeps you organized as a business owner. This is a trait that can make you stand out as someone clients should want to use.
Another way to create goodwill with your clients is staying aware of their schedules. This could mean waking up earlier if you’re on Pacific time and your client is in New York. Or working odd hours if you have a client in Hawaii or overseas!
While you’ll still have the freedom to work as you choose, consider how frequently you need to contact your client. If you communicate throughout the day, you’ll want to work according to their time-zone. That way, you know you can reach them whenever you need to.
As an independent contractor, it is your responsibility to keep your client aware of when you’re not available, or if you’ll be gone for any lengthy period.
Your best bet? Provide at least a month’s notice if you know you’ll be away or otherwise unavailable for a long period of time. This way, you can set appropriate deadlines together and make up for lost time.
Finally, when you’re first starting out, don’t plan to take too much time off. Remember, you want to start by leaving a good impression. Taking too much time off at the beginning of a new client relationship can make you look flaky and unreliable…not a trait you wat to be known for!
Take Deadlines Seriously
Your client will set non-negotiable deadlines.
Missing these even by only a few hours is a BIG DEAL. Trust me on this!!
Say you miss the deadline. And, your client needed the project completed in time to prepare for a legal hearing. Now they’re behind schedule, costing them not just time, but money—or worse…a client!
In my industry—transcription—if you turn in even one project late, you lose credibility.
Avoid this. You don’t want a reputation as someone who can’t handle a workload. This is a common way for independent transcriptionists to lose clients…and the income they bring.
So yeah…It’s already been said…and it cannot be said enough.
Always meet deadlines!
Always Proof Your Work
You know how it goes. You spend a lot of time on a project, and you’re just ready to turn it in. It’s good enough, you think. I just can’t look at this anymore!
It is never good enough to skip proofing your work.
In today’s world, people gauge whether or not they’ll award you business based on ratings and reviews on the web. Transcription companies, like mine, rely on accuracy.
One typo? In my business, I can lose not only one client, but my company’s reputation for reliable work!
That’s why it is always a good idea after you finish a project to take a short break. Then, when you come back to the work, spotting any errors is easier. Another trick our best medical transcription people use is reading long reports backwards in an effort to uncover errors.
Do all of your clients (and yourself, too) a favor. Always proof your work.
Research Words or Phrases You Don’t Know
If you work with doctors or lawyers, it’s a given. You’re bound to come across words or phrases you’ve never heard of. Take the initiative and research what they mean.
For example, in transcription work, understanding these terms and phrases gives you the right context for the audio you’re transcribing. You do this and you improve the quality of the transcript.
This applies far beyond just transcription work. If your independent contractor work is focused on a specific industry, you want to know the ins and outs.
Knowing everything there is to know about your specific niche is another way you can build your reputation as an expert people want to hire!
Continue to Improve Your Skills
One way to continually impress your clients? Always look for ways to improve your skills. Evolve and adapt is what we say around here, which helps keep us on our toes so we don’t become complacent. Keeping your job as an independent contractor is the same, don’t become complacent because you never know when your clients could switch things up on you.
These days there are so many options open to you. You can take advantage of online platforms like Udemy to take any number of different courses. Alternatively, look to attend different events and conferences in a client’s industry.
For example, if you work mainly for the medical industry, find a relevant healthcare networking event to attend. These events are perfect opportunities to ask people about how they use the service you provide in their offices.
Finally, check in with your client before you go. If you want to stand out further, look to add value to their business. For example, get permission to promote their company and help them find more customers!
Rejection is Par for the Course
When it comes to being an independent contractor, there are no guarantees.
Clients may pass on you for any reason, and sometimes you’ll just have no idea why.
“Get cozy with rejection,” said freelance content writer Minda Honey.
“Don’t get discouraged, just keep grinding. If you do good work, people will talk and more people will want to work with you.”
Never play the blame game. The reason a client passes on you can have nothing to do with you! In fact, it’s entirely feasible you get rejected because of business circumstance you’ll never know!
Even in this case, before you part ways, ask if you can use them as a referral. Or, ask them to refer you to others in their industry.
If you’ve delivered good work, clients are usually happy to do these things. But, if you play the blame game? All bets are off!
Customer service is the ultimate differentiator – How to keep your job as an independent contractor
Never forget that there are others waiting to take your place if you fail to prove your worth as an independent contractor.
So…let’s role-play. You be me! I have to retain one of these independent contractors. Who should I pick?
- The person delivering good work, on time, but with zero communication.
- The person delivering good work, on time with superior communication skills.
- The person delivering good work, on time with superior communication skills and a way of always going the extra mile.
You know it. I know it.
It’s C. Every. Single. Time.
As an independent contractor, you stand out by delivering accurate work, on-time…all the while displaying excellent customer service and superior communication skills.
To keep your clients happy (and giving you continual work), show your dedication. Always meet deadlines on time with proofed work. And, always treat your clients with the utmost respect.
Interested in independent contractor transcription work? Awesome! We’re always on the lookout for great transcriptionists!!
Fill out an application…and of course, follow the advice in this article!