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  • 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO

    Getting, convincing, keeping and dealing with clients is an art for itself. Whether you’re a freelancer or part of a company, whether you’re a SEO, web designer, programmer or writer you will encounter the same issues again and again. You might argue that everybody is different and no client matches another one. This is true. Nonetheless the situations you will go through often match. So you can prepare yourself for those recurring situations.

    After 11 years of web working as web developer, blogger and SEO both in agencies and freelance I have collected a list of 30 timeless tips to get, convince, keep and deal with clients.

    How to get clients
    To get clients you have to first make them contact you. Cold calling and aggressively marketing is bad for your mental health, most people do not like it and you get the wrong clients this way. You need to attract those clients who need you already. They are out there.

    • Make a name for yourself, a name brand and/or a “real” brand. Do not act a one of thousands, stick out by being extraordinary in whatever way you choose.
    • Be trustworthy by design, especially if you work in web design, copy writing or SEO where everybody can claim to be an expert. Prove it by showing off current working projects, having a good blog, testimonials, other people writing about you.
    • Do not compete with India. Charge more instead of less and less. Most clients think what’s cheap is worthless. Indians will be cheaper anyways.
    • Get clients to get more clients. If you can’t get any clients whatsoever do something for free for friends or charities to show off some work.
    • Always keep your own projects alive. Clients will come and go. After a while you won’t be able to show off their work anymore. You need your own projects.
    • Do not make a fancy website, show off your work on a usable website where the potential client can contact you easily.
    • Be present on the main channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and whatever is industry specific. Some people do not use the overall WWW or email to find and contact you.
    • Support your community. Nobody can do everything her or himself so that your “competitors” will bring you new clients.
    • Specialize in rare, new and upcoming niches. Do not stick to what everybody does. Everybody offers services like web design, copy writing or SEO but who offers iPhone optimized web pages?
    • Be local and proud of it. Many people prefer local businesses they can relate to or even visit.
    • Offer more stuff to your existing clients or those you have already worked with and keep track of your clients with some CRM (customer relationship management) tools. There are web based CRM tools and open source ones for free.

    How to convince clients
    Once a potential client has contacted you doesn’t mean you’ll get him to work with you. Most people will contact several service providers and compare.

    • Listen to what the client really wants and reply to exactly this demand. Do not just offer the standard package without even contemplating the specific case.
    • Be quick or at least tell the potential client how long she or he has to wait. Use a template reply that has been tested and worked with previous clients of course changing the data and the text where the situation is specific.
    • Do not try to teach the client everything about your trade. Concentrate on a few key issues the client has to grasp, the rest is your task and the reason why the client wants to pay you (not to bother with it her or himself).
    • Do not talk about problems, speak about solutions. Do not focus on why Flash is bad but how you can use Flash to please both the client and to comply with web standards and SEO best practices.
    • Be friendly and be yourself, explain why you are interested in a specic client and project based on your hobbies, family history and experiences. This way you also ensure that you really work for clients you like.

    How to keep clients
    Once you have convinced your clients to choose you, you want to keep them as long as possible. This may prove difficult just due to the nature of the Web and web working.

    • Always say “yes”. Clients do not want to hear a “no”. Always say “yes, you’ll deal with it” and then do it on your own terms. A client wants a Flash intro, an all Flash site, or a bigger logo? Create a Flash intro for first time visitors which fades out on mouse movement, create an all Flash site with a HTML backup, add a layer with a huge logo that disappears when the visitor performs an action on the site.
    • Document what you do and explain why. Web development, writing and SEO are often invisible. Clients do not see any changes on the outside after you spend a night on cleaning the code, a day researching for your article, a week testing on different browsers and a month on link building. Document each step.
    • Be proactive in communicating issues and when being late. Clients who have the impression that you’re too slow and making too many mistakes you want to hide will quit sooner or later. Be open about issues you encounter and being late with a project.
    • Do not stay the same and offer the same solutions even if “times are a changin’”. Clients are prone to buy and pay for things that worked once. They assume they’ll work again and again. The web is changing at a very fast pace. So things that worked 10, 5, 2 years or even a few months ago do not work anymore in many cases. Offer new solutions to old problems before the old solutions stop working.
    • Do not keep all clients. To keep your good clients you have to drop those clients who prevent you from spending the right amount of time and effort with your good clients. When you frantically attempt to keep clients who are always discontent you will in the end loose both the bad and the good clients.

    How to deal with clients

    Working with clients will never be pure harmony only as your interests and those of the clients only converge partly. In many cases your own interest and that of the client differs substantially. You have to deal with that, you can’t ignore it and you can’t let your client dictate everything. Ignoring those issues will make you either insane or inefficient or both and both you and the client will end up discontent afterwards. So make sure to address these issues before they really affect your cooperation.

    • Do not answer emails ten times a day. Email is an incredible time waster and very inefficient. It only works if used wisely. When a client emails you more than twice a day with issues and requests set up a todo list instead of answering each and every time. Replying to an email in most cases means that the client will rely too so you’ll end up writing emails all day instead of working. Or just call the client and sort out the issues.
    • Charge by the hour and assess the number of hours you need per task beforehand. Otherwise a client won’t value your time. When a task runs out of hand you write a email that the assessed time for this task has run out and if the client wants to pay for another 2 hours.
    • Send emails with protocols, todos and tasks for the client all people responsible. Then refer to your older messages.
    • Contact clients who are late with answers, materials or payments telling them how it will negatively affect your project and that you might need to work for another clients in the meantime and having to set aside your project for a while due to them being late.
    • Always charge upfront. Charge at least 1/3 of the sum at stake. Otherwise clients might even forget about you, hire other people to do the same work or not take your work after you’re done. Of course they just might not pay at all.
    • Make sure to be allowed to show off your work. Some clients, especially in SEO tend to be paranoid. Also working clandestinely makes them assign a low value to your work. Sometimes they even tend to propose work that might compromise your integrity.
    • Never depend on just one client. In this case she or he might just lay you off as if you are an employee.
    • Do not meet a client more often than needed. Some local clients want to meet you several times even before the projects have begun and they paid you a Cent. keep off those clients, they will always want you to attend them in this way. Otherwise charge them the extra costs, both the time and the cost of getting there.
    • Never let clients treat you like subordinates. You and the client are partners. Clients who do not grasp that will never make you happy with your work and will steal your time you could have invested in the clients who treat you right.
    • Stop dealing with clients who get angry at you, shout and swear at you. Those people will always do that no matter how good you are at your work.

    You can’t adhere to all these tips at the same time. Also if you just adhere to the “how to deal with clients” part without first making an effort to stick to the “get, convince and keep clients” parts it won’t work out either. The rule of thumb always must be that both you and the client are happy with your work.

    “It doesn’t make sense to give up your life, integrity or self-respect for a client as it ultimately will hurt the client as well.”

    That said I’m really, really happy with my current clients. SEOptmise is one of them as I’m a paid writer for their SEO blog. I even accept lower pay from those clients I am happy with which in turn of course makes them happy as well.

    To work with clients be it in a SEO, writing or web development you must be eager to work on a project. You can’t be too selfish as you must be proud of the success you generated for others and you have to give the best you have.

    My work for SEOptmise is proof of this. I just write once a week for the SEOptmise blog but I generate several thousands of page views with each of my bigger articles, much more than on my own blog.

    I help people with blogs, social media & search. I help you succeed on the Web. I've been online publishing for 15 years. I started back in 1997.

    37 Responses to “30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO”

    1. Caleb says:

      This is solid advice. Some of the best advice I’ve seen regarding the topic at hand yet.



    2. Nice article. very much informative

    3. Saad Kamal says:

      This is a great list :)

    4. benjamin ray says:

      all great comments. Most of these are issues we deal with daily.

    5. inkodeR says:

      Fantastic list.
      “Do not talk about problems, speak about solutions.” That screamed out to me.
      Something I suck at.
      CRM solutions (free ones are always good) There are heaps out there.
      Could you specifically recommend one in particluar?

    6. Lee Munroe says:

      Some great tips here.

      I don’t know about ‘Always say “yes”.’ – I think it’s important that as professionals we say no to anything we disagree with but also provide the reason why we’ve said no. Clients don’t hire us to be ‘yes’ men.

    7. This is excellent advice I am going reread it and study it. It all rings so true to my 8 years of freelance experience.

    8. Web Design, Writing or SEO says:

      [...] Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO SEOptimise Signatures and Writing CodeCreate a signature graphic or logo using a graphics program or scanner. [...]

    9. Endüstriyel Kapı says:

      Best article, thanks lot.

    10. karalynia says:

      This is an article I will share with among all of my friends.I think your view is right to do deal with client,we should have to some tips which can convince him fully and your all tips are convince able.


    11. Great efforts!!! Seems to be very impressive post… Keep it up!!!

    12. Jeff Demers.com » Blog Archive » links for 2008-12-02 says:

      [...] 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO | S… (tags: seotips) [...]

    13. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us… A very good article from which we have all learned…

    14. Tad Chef says:

      inkodeR: I’m not a CRM expert whatsoever yet (although I work on that). I’d try Zoho CRM for a start. The number one web based CRM provider is Salesforce though.

      Lee: Yes, you are right! ;-) In fact I always thought arguing with the client is better for both of us. After more than 10 years I know: it isn’t. Just say “yes” and implement it the way YOU like it while still doing what the client asked for.

      @ all others: Thanks for the feedback and appreciation!

    15. Freelance says:

      Hello, thank you for this great article, I start my own business in january :p

    16. [...] 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO No comments for this entry yet… [...]

    17. DMC says:

      “Always say yes” is just foolish. I say no to clients all the time, and they respect me for it. If I said yes to every ridiculous demand a client made, I’d be out of business faster than you can blink.

    18. Tad Chef says:

      DMC: I may be foolish but you’re an smartass. Telling a client what s/he needs all the time because you are the Web guru is not only condescending but wrong.

      You can’t always know hat’s better for the client.
      Besides, it’s not about doing everything a client says, but trying to find a solution before being a smartass.

      People in technology are very often looking down on non-tech people while they don’t know much about the real world and resulting needs.

    19. [...] to Get, Convince, and Keep Clients I came across this post with 30 tips for getting and keeping clients and thought I’d share. It’s written specifically for web designers, writers, and SEOs, but [...]

    20. Boston SEO says:

      Unfortunately, there are times you have to say “no” to a client. Often, it’s when their expectations are unrealistic.

      For example, I’m working with a client who wants me to “optimize some new domain names,” which were aliases he wanted to point to multiple pages off the primary domain. I knew this was impossible and he obviously got some misinformation. So I proposed a solution, saying I can’t “optimize a domain,” but I can optimize the pages they point to with keywords from the domain, which would accomplish what he wanted.

      The client responded saying that they don’t want any new content, they just want me to “optimize the domains, so they rank high in Google.” Seeing I’d explained optimizing a domain name was impossible, I was left with no choice but to say “no,” this can’t be done unless I create on page content with keywords from the domain, at the very least.”

      In the end, this became a sore spot because in the client’s eyes he said “do this” and I said “I can’t,” regardless of how flawed his view of the situation was. We got over it and moved on, but even to this day he still gives me a hard time when he wants something and says, “let me guess, you’re going to tell me it can’t be done.” Sure, he’s half-kidding, but he’s also half-serious.

    21. Sound advice, on the whole – definitely useful to anyone starting out.

      I would probably take issue with a few points (as with the comment above) – for instance there are times when effective, professional management of customer expectations – and even brutal honesty will serve both your business and the customer better in the long run.

      “No” now is better than “Umm..” later!

    22. Bailey "Outsourcing Services" Rein says:

      Been working as a freelancer before and lost my clients… I will follow this advice. Thank you for sharing this one. :)

    23. [...] 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO [...]

    24. [...] 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal with Clients, Be it in Web Design, Writing or SEO – SEOptimise [...]

    25. Good article. I think it’s good for everyone who is freelancing or in private practice to understand that the client is the one benefiting from the expertise of the professional. If they don’t value our time and skills, we don’t need them. Moreover, we have to make it clear upfront that we value our own time and that we run our businesses professionally. They will generally cooperate and be glad to do business with that sort of professional.

    26. [...] Ways to Make Your Clients Love You A post to help you convince clients by winning them over.30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be It in Web Design, Writing or SEO Another useful post that you should definitely check out.(al) Robert BowenRobert Bowen is an [...]

    27. How To Convince The Client That Your Design Is Perfect « Anthony Turano – Photoshop tips and tricks and Free PSDs says:

      [...] 30 Tips on How to Get, Convince, Keep and Deal With Clients, Be It in Web Design, Writing or SEO Another useful post that you should definitely check out. [...]

    28. I agree with @Boston SEO there are situations that you have to tell clients no, especially in situations where the client’s information they have gathered does not make sense, and cannot be executed. The other times I have said no, is when a project is almost complete, and the client gets a random piece of information from a third party, and wants us to redo the entire project. Basing their decision on some amateur’s conjecture, and demanding will result in them being asked to go elsewhere for their services.

    29. Arivalagan says:

      Awesome Tips.
      Hope this will useful to People who deal with the Clients/Customers Everyday.
      I have started Using the above tips.

      Thanks again.

    30. Prajyot says:

      This is the best least of information to convince the client which helps me a lot to convince my client.. Thanks!

    31. R. Vidhya says:

      The last mentioned advice is very useful to me. I’ll apply the same in my profession. Thank You very much.

    32. Avinash says:

      Thank you so much

    33. Smriti says:

      can any one tell that in -How to get clients heading there is one bullet “Do not compete with India” what does it mean


    34. VinothBobby says:

      ya many here is true
      Especially Do not compete with India. Charge more instead of less and less. Most clients think what’s cheap is worthless. Indians will be cheaper anyways.

    35. Raja says:

      Above tips are very very useful and applyable according the situations.

    36. Delorne says:

      Love the way you say “Indians will be cheaper anyways.” Thought it funny because I’m of Indian decent and live in Durban, South Africa. And as a generalization, Indian will always try and make a plan, or get it at a discount! hehe.
      -Thanks for your invaluable education in point form, greatly appreciate it, as I’m trying to come up with a way to convert free members to annual paying ones…hmmmmm

      Thanks once again Tad.

    37. Vikas Jangid says:

      “Always say yes” is just foolish. I say no to clients all the time, and they respect me for it. If I said yes to every ridiculous demand a client made, I’d be out of business faster than you can blink.

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