By Jake Poinier
I often joke that January is when clients suddenly find their to-do lists all at the same time. I prepare myself mentally for it, of course — and have plenty of strong coffee at the ready.
This year has been even more of a deluge than usual. What’s more, in the past two weeks, I’ve had several emergency calls — projects that needed to be researched, interviewed, written and approved in a day or two. It’s stressful, but I have to confess that I not only enjoy it, but I love the byproduct: earning client loyalty for life.
Now, there’s an important distinction here:
- I’m not talking about an over-the-transom prospect who found you on Google and needs something done in a hurry. (Like the old saying, “Poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”)
- I’m also not talking about “the client who cried wolf,” for whom EVERYTHING is an emergency.
- I’m talking about about a good client with whom you have a solid relationship who happens to need a lifesaver.
I remember well from my magazine-editor days when a freelancer would flake out, or a story came in that was a complete piece of garbage, or an ad salesperson would sell a last-minute ad that bumped up the magazine with an additional 8-page form. I had specific writers who I knew would come through in the clutch as well as being regulars in my freelance stable.
In the words of my friend Stephanie Conner at The Active Voice, “Being an unflappable freelancer goes a long way.” If you’re willing to work that extra bit harder for a client or editor when they’re in desperate straits, they’re going to be willing to give you more assignments long after the emergency has passed.