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How to Impress and Spoil Your Clients on a Freelancer’s Budget – Guest Post

I think this guest post has a number of useful suggestions for freelancers. Treating your clients right and impressing them doesn’t have to mean shiny offices and expensive dinners. In the end, it’s your personality and the quality of your work that matters.

When you’re trying to network, spoil your clients, and be a part of the scene you’re desperately trying to break into, how are you supposed to keep up with corporate expense accounts and heiress-worthy credit card limits? Even if your clients aren’t making millions of dollars themselves, lunch dates, bonuses and holiday gifts or parties can hurt what little profits you’ve worked so hard to achieve. If you’re struggling to find the balance between investing in your clients’ loyalty and actually paying your bills, check out this guide to living large on a freelancer’s budget.

  • Take them to lunch or drinks, not dinner: Lunch dates and drink dates are completely appropriate when you want to network with new contacts or take a client out to celebrate or discuss a project. Besides being able to incorporate these meetings into the regular work day and work week, you’ll get specials on drinks, appetizers, desserts or anything else that’s just for the lunch or happy hour crowd.
  • Print free cards: When you want to give your clients a personal touch by sending out thank you cards, holiday greetings or announcements, use a printer’s free sample offer, even if it means you can’t send them to everyone on your contacts list. [Mrs. Micah’s note: you can also find deals on places like to save money on getting business cards printed.]
  • Always keep in touch. Chances are, your existing clients are more concerned with the quality of their project and deadlines rather than expensive dinners or parties. Make it a priority to keep them updated while you work on their project, and in between jobs, send e-mails or notes to let them know you still valuable your relationship.
  • Leave room in your budget for extra expenses: Just as big companies have expense account budgets, you should try to put a little of your extra profits into a pool that’s just for networking purposes. And remember that what you spend for business is also tax deductible.
  • Find new places to take clients. Before a restaurant or bar has gotten a reputation as a “cheap” or “budget-friendly” place, take your clients. You’ll look like you know all the cool, new places to hang out, giving you more credit as a cutting edge individual.
  • Don’t talk about money: Don’t order the cheapest thing on the menu, and don’t say a word about the prices. The last thing you want your clients to think is that you’re stingy and okay with cutting corners.

This post was contributed by Sarah Russel, who writes about the graduate degree. She welcomes your feedback at SarahRussel1234 at

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Miranda July 24, 2009 at 8:55 am

Great tips! When you are a freelancer without a true “office”, it really is important to meet clients elsewhere. It’s more professional that way. I like the idea of meeting for lunch or drinks.

Funny about Money July 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

Another idea that occurred to me is to write a quarterly newsletter. It could contain a little positive news about your business and some sort of “helpful hint” related to the service you provide.

This is something you could send out electronically, and so your only cost would be the time it takes to write it & compile an e-mailing list.

AJ July 25, 2009 at 2:48 pm

You have great tips here!

mrsmicah July 26, 2009 at 8:33 pm

@Miranda, indeed. It’s not worthwhile for most independent freelancers to have an office outside the home. Or if they do, it’s not normally worthwhile to have an expensive one. The best reason to get one is to have somewhere quiet to be.

@Funny good point! I recently set up a blog website which allows a client to post her newsletter there and offer e-mail/RSS subscriptions for clients, plus newsletter archives on the blog itself.

Michael July 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm

The fabled corporate expense account has seen its capacity greatly reduced, so freelancers aren’t so far behind. Still, good post.

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