For the past four years, each May I celebrate the anniversary of the day I resigned from 9-to-5 life. The day I gave notice feels like it belongs to someone else. Revealing my intentions to my employer overwhelmed me then. Now, I think I should have done it sooner.
Last week when I quietly remembered that day, I noticed how often the values and actions of my past employers surface when running my own business. Although I was dispassionate about the work I did at the time, those jobs were necessary. I mentally reference certain circumstances or reflexively respond to issues now that remind me of what I was responsible for when I worked for someone other than myself.
If you are on the brink of becoming a full-time freelancer, just getting started, or even if you are seasoned, here are three things to consider when developing your writing career:
- How did you hear about me/us? I probably asked this question everyday over the four years that I worked for a real estate company on Long Island. Every business owner should ask this question. The answer tells you how best to spend your advertising dollars, who to thank for referrals, and surprising sources of work. I’ve chronicled where my freelance clients came from in past posts. Start asking if you have not already.
- Remember. When I worked for a different real estate company in North Carolina, one of the owners maintained a detailed database of every client, vendor, and prospect’s birthday. His calendar was kept up-to-date with everyone’s birthdays and he made it a point to call and wish the individual a Happy Birthday. People loved it. It’s a short call, you wish them well, it’s not business, and they remember you. I do not go to such great lengths in my business, but last year I sent gifts to every freelance client I’ve ever had to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of my business. For certain clients, I send gifts on the anniversary of the month we started working together.
- Survey. Both of the companies referenced above had highly similar internal filing systems. The prospect-client-closing cycle followed a streamlined process: Physical file creation, digital data entry, testimonial request. Of course, there were a dozen steps in between specific to their industry, but the closing of every file triggered a survey request. The questionnaire is a great opportunity to capture a testimonial for your website and other marketing purposes. I use Survey Monkey after every class I teach to gather feedback, plus Meetup has a review feature too that has helped me gather feedback that I use as slideshow testimonials on my website.
Do you notice things in your non-freelance life that you want to apply to your own professional needs?