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Michelle Nickolaisen

You don’t always have to be pounding the pavement to find new clients. Creating a follow-up system to reach out to previous clients can get you more sales, with less work.

 

Introduction

Most freelancers take a one-and-done approach with their clients. They’ll work with a client on the project that the client brought to them, and then when it’s done, it’s done. But if you’re willing to invest a little time and energy in setting up and then maintaining a client follow-up system, you can spend less time marketing yourself — and make more money. After all, if a client has worked with you previously and had a good experience, why wouldn’t they want to work with you again?

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Create a list of previous clients.
  2. Choose a CRM app and sign up for it.
  3. Input past clients and notes on what you worked on together.
  4. Input current clients and notes on your projects with them.
  5. Set up your chosen app so that it reminds you to follow up with previous clients.
  6. Create your email templates (and, optionally, follow up services).
  7. Send appropriate emails to previous clients, depending on how long ago you worked together.

 

Step One: Create a list of previous clients.

Include when you worked together, what you worked on, and what’s gone on in their life since then (career change? business relaunch? moved? new baby?).

 

Step Two: Choose a CRM app

Personally, I love Streak CRM — and it lives in my inbox, which makes it even easier to keep up with. Other options include Insightly or Hubspot’s CRM. All of these options have free plans. You don’t have to sign up for a CRM app, but it’s a good idea to keep you extra organized.

  

Steps Three & Four: Input past clients and notes on what you worked on together. Then, input current clients and notes on your projects with them.

Make sure to include what you worked on, when, and how the process went.

Obviously, your CRM will work better if you have all of that important information in one spot!

 

Step Five: Set up your chosen app so that it reminds you to follow up with previous clients.

How often will depend on how often you want to check in with your clients — about every two or three months is a good check-in period.

 

Step Six: Create your email templates (and, optionally, follow up services).

A good client follow up system will have three sets of emails:

  • An email to send immediately after wrapping up your original work with the client
  • An email for 1-3 months after your first project is done
  • A “keep in touch” email for touching base after that

Some example emails are on this card - make sure to modify them so that they make sense for your personality, clients, and business. 

 

Follow up services:

You might or might not need to create these, depending on how structured your current services are. With certain types of freelancers (namely, those who tend to work more on projects than on an ongoing basis), having specific follow up services to offer to previous clients can make it much easier to sell to previous clients. Here’s a few things to think about:

  • What do people need directly after working with you?

What are the next steps they need to take, and can you help them with that somehow with a follow-up service? For example, after you work with a client on redesigning their website, it would make sense to offer a “next step” service that includes rebranding their social profiles.

  • If you were going to offer a retainer or maintenance type of service, what would it look like?

What do your clients need done on a regular basis? If you’re a designer, they might need images for blog posts, or infographics to go with their content marketing strategy. If you’re a developer, it could be security maintenance or updating plugins and themes.

  • What do your clients need 1-3 months after working with you?

This is similar to the “next step” service, except less immediate. And, depending on how much you keep in touch with former clients right now, you might have a hard time coming up with ideas for this service — which is another benefit of keeping in touch. When you follow up with your clients, you’ll see what problems people have after working with you and can offer them paid solutions.

If nothing else, it’s easy to email previous clients and say “Now that it’s been a while since we’ve worked together, is there anything you’d love to have that’s within my skill set?”

 

Step Seven: Send appropriate emails to previous clients, depending on how long ago you worked together.

This gets you caught up with your client follow up!

 

Conclusion

Now, you have follow up email templates, follow up services, and a client follow up system to pull it all together. The trickiest part from here on out will be keeping up with it. I’d recommend scheduling 15-30 minutes to spend on client follow up once a week or so — if you don’t have any clients to follow up with that week, then just mark it as finished and set the task (or calendar event, etc.) to repeat next week. That way, you’re always up to date.