First impressions are EVERYTHING. So how do you make your new clients ADORE you, and want to pay you again and again and again? Keep reading to learn the 6 steps I follow with every single one of my new clients…
Hey hey guys, it’s Alex! Thanks for being here. If you’re new here, welcome! Hit subscribe to my YouTube Channel to join the Posse on YouTube! Every single week I release a new tutorial on how to start and scale your freelance writing business, so make sure to also hit that bell icon so you don’t miss any videos from me!
Now this week’s post is in response to quite a few of you asking… “Alex how do I start working with a new client?”
Well let me tell ya, there is a right way to do it, and there’s wrong to do it. Finding prospective clients can be hard enough as it is, so when you do find one, you want to make an AMAZING first impression.
So, let’s say you get approached by a prospective client online, or you get in touch with a business that needs your skills. Well, that very first interaction sets the tone for what is hopefully a closed deal and a great long term working experience together.
And let’s face it, sometimes you don’t get the job. Or, sometimes you do, but a miscommunication leads to some unmet expectations and you’ve lost that client forever.
I’m here to help you make sure neither of those scenarios happen. So I’m going to share my exact process that you can follow to not only make your clients say “Yes!” but have them FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU.
These 6 steps will ensure clear communication, fair compensation, and a productive working environment for both you and your client. Cool?
Now, if you’re like “Bah! Alex, I don’t even know where to FIND my first client, let alone have one fall in love with me” you’ll want to hop on over to my video here on How To Become A Freelance Copywriter & Get Your First Client.
Alright, now let’s dive into my 6-step client onboarding process that works like a charm! iIt all starts with…
1. Discovery Call
Ok guys, so listen up. Your FIRST goal with any prospective client is to get them on the phone. Preferably a Zoom call where you can actually see each others faces. Scary, I know. But I’m telling you, you’ll never have a successful freelance business if you’re afraid of face-to-face communication.
So once you’re in touch with a prospective client, simply ask when they might be available for a Discovery Call so you can get to know more about them and their unique business needs.
See what I did there… You make this request ABOUT your client. Not about you, or why they should hire you. PLEASE do not send emails or DMs begging for work. That just seems desperate.
The Discovery Call is an opportunity for you to get to know your client and offer value up front. But more importantly, it’s your chance to suss them out to see if they’re someone you’d actually like to work with, and vice versa!
Ask them about their business and why they started it. Ask them about what products they currently have and what mediums they use for their marketing. And, of course, ask them where they feel they need the most copywriting support.
You don’t need long. 30 minutes should be enough to get all the info you need at this stage of the game and get a good gut check on the kind of working relationship you could potentially have.
Tip: Be courteous and flexible and, as much as possible, take charge of the call scheduling, instead of leaving it to the client. It’s your process after all, so be the one to guide them along the experience and make it as easy as possible for them.
And one more thing – always record your calls! Especially at this stage of the project. It’s best to have everything on record so you can refer back to understand what’s been agreed to and what expectations have been set.
Ok, step 2 is to send your prospective client a…
2. Personalized Portfolio
After the Discovery Call, follow up with an email thanking your client for their time and include a link to your portfolio with samples curated to their specific business needs.
You may have already shared some samples of your work when you first got in touch, but now that you have a better grasp on what they need and what the nature of the project is, you can curate a collection of work samples that match it.
For example, if they want you to write a sales letter, this is when you can send samples of your best sales page copy. If they want you to write an email sequence, you can send them your best performing email campaigns. You get the idea.
Of course, if you’re just getting started your portfolio will be limited, so you may want to include all you have, and that’s cool! Just keep this in mind as you grow your business.
Tip: Make it easy for your prospective client to view your portfolio. Instead of attaching a bunch of loose documents in your email, send them a link to a folder on Google Drive or Dropbox so they can easily access it without getting lost in an email thread!
So, in this email, ask your client to review your portfolio and get back to you with a specific Project Scope.
3. Project Scope
Locking down the scope of a project and understanding each deliverable is absolutely critical to determine pricing, timeline and expectations.
The Project Scope is simply a list of deliverables the client needs, and when they need them. Along with the Scope, ask for any examples of existing assets or pages that are similar to give you a rough idea of the length and format. Make sure the list is as thorough as possible. If there are any gaps, or anything that is not clear, ask for clarification NOW.
The last thing you want is to create any gaps that could potentially lead to scope creep — which is when a project scope expands from what was originally set, without the time or budget to accommodate it.
Tip: Make sure to get the scope in writing via email, rather than over the phone. It’s easier to work with an organized list that everyone can read and refer back to if needed.
Once you get the project scope, it’s time to send your….
4. Project Proposal
This includes your quote for the entire project, and your proposed timeline for your deliverables.
This is also where you can suggest a payment schedule that would work best for you. For example, perhaps you prefer to be paid 50% up front, then 50% upon completion of the job. Or, paid as milestones are completed over the project period.
Also, this is HUGELY important, be sure to note the CURRENCY your quote is in. As freelancers, you’ll work with businesses across the globe, which can leave a lot of room for miscommunication when it comes to currency. So, be VERY specific in your project proposal what currency you operate with. While it may be helpful to provide a quote in your client’s local currency, that can get complicated when it comes to payment if you do not have a bank account set up to receive those funds. To avoid getting dinged with exchange rates etc, invoice in the currency you WANT to be paid in.
Tip: If this is a new client or a large project, you’d make a good impression by providing this proposal in a clean and styled PDF document. I have absolutely ZERO design skills so I like to use Canva to create gorgeous PDFs with my logo and branding colors. Now, if it’s a client you’ve worked with before, with whom trust has been established, you can simplify the process by sticking to email. It’s really up to you!
Now, if you’re not sure how much to charge for your work, check out this video on my 8 Pricing Tips for building a 6-figure writing business.
Alright, after you and your client agree upon the quote and timeline, it’s time to move onto…
5. Statement of Work
Your statement of work is a concise and optimized version of a freelancer contract that outlines the previously agreed-upon job scope, quote and timeline. as well as the currency you want to be paid in.
Think of it as a one-page agreement — and you want to get everyone on that same page.
Of course, some copywriters will still prefer to use a proper freelancer agreement, which I do recommend for new and unknown clients or if you’re entering into an on-going retainer agreement.
Tip: You can get great free examples of freelancer contracts on sites like And.Co and Freelancers Union.
In my experience, though if there’s going to be miscommunication between your and your client, it almost always happens in relation to scope, timeline and payment. So I use a super simple Statement of Work that cuts to the chase and outlines exactly what the project involves, and I get my clients to sign and date that rather than a long multi-page contract that seems like overkill, especially for short term or one-off projects.
To help you guys out, I’ll give you my Statement of Work template for free that you can easily customize for your own clients! I’ll tell you where you can get your hands on that in just a hot second.
Alright, so once the Statement of Work is signed, sealed, delivered, you are ready to start the project! This is where the fun starts. Now that both you and your client are crystal clear on what needs to happen and when it’s time to schedule an official Brand Call.
6. Brand Call
While it will be tempting to just start writing, I highly recommend you schedule a brand call with your client to understand their brand voice and messaging better. On this call, you want to ask about the brand vision, mission and goals. How do they see themselves? How do they like to communicate? Are they friendly and quirky? Matter-of-fact and practical?
Whether you’re a copywriter, a content writer, a designer, a developer or a marketer — it’s important for you to be able to emulate your client’s brand voice in your work and be able to understand the specific needs of their target audience. This is HUGELY important to know before you begin writing to avoid revisions or completely missing the mark.
This is also a great time to ask more detailed questions about the product or service you’re writing about and the context in which people will be seeing your copy. The more information you can gather about the brand, target audience and user experience will really help you deliver work that is compelling, contextually relevant and congruent.
So, once you’ve checked off the brand call, you can now move forward and get started! Your project has now officially begun!
Watch This Instead
Now, if you want to see my exact 9-step copywriting process that I follow for every new sales piece I write, from the first outline all the way to the final draft, you can watch that video right here.
And, as promised, to get your hands on my free Statement of Work template, you can find it right here! I hope you find it helpful!
Thanks for joining me guys! Till next week, I’m Alex, ciao for now!