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How to find (and keep) clients as a freelance developer (Part 4)  –  Client Relationship Management

This is a 4 part series where I share my musings about how to find (and keep!) clients as a freelance developer. I’ll cover topics such as the main philosophy in finding the best clients for you, tested methods of finding clients on your own and some basic tips in client relationship management that have served me well over the years.

In case you haven’t read the other posts from the series…

Ok, so now that you have 1 or 2 (hopefully recurring) clients you then need to learn how to manage your relationship with them.

You see, clients are people too, so if you only focus on delivering work and not dedicate some time/effort to improve your relationship with your client then they may and may not drop you in favor of someone who does.

I’m not saying you need to be best friends with your client but you NEED to work on your relationship with him or her.

So far in my freelance career I think this has been one of the deciding factors for clients coming back to me. They know I’m a person too, not a monkey that only writes code.

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Here is a monkey trying to code...

A couple of examples

For example, my oldest client is a small digital agency owner who is also a developer. He has a wife and two young kids, one recently born this year. When his wife was pregnant I always asked about her and how the pregnancy was going. When she gave birth and my client was not available for a couple of days I worked extra hard and put in more hours to be able to deliver everything to him way before the deadline so he had some lee way to check it. After the baby was born and he told me he had to dedicate some time to his oldest son so his wife could take care of the baby, I made sure to have all work related questions ready when I knew he was going to be online instead of messaging him at weird hours asking questions about the current project.

Another example is from another client of mine that is a also developer who has a corgi dog. He likes corgi pictures, like, A LOT, and sometimes posts them on our slack channel. Whenever I’m on reddit and find a cool corgi picture (there’s even a whole subreddit about it) I post them on slack too and make him laugh.

It’s the little things

It’s all about rapport. Humans are emotional creatures. And feelings are an important part of our decision making process. Once your client has an emotional attachment to you they will think of you when they need something done because they trust you.

Now, I’m not saying you can go ahead and miss deadline after deadline and/or deliver crappy code and by being friends with your client he will give you a pass. That’s not how this works.

Having a good work ethic and delivering quality code on time will work much better than sending your client corgi pictures (even if he likes them!).

So if you deliver value AND build rapport with your client then you’ll have a winning combo that’ll make your clients come back to you.

That’s it for the series. I hope you enjoyed it!