As voice-over artists, we are constantly riding the wave of clients. Sometimes we’re up and busy for weeks on end, sometimes we’re floating along unaware where our next job will come from. As we talked about in last week’s Working Wednesday, this is normal and natural – not a reason to freak out. Today’s post is a further exploration of practical ways to create good karma and connect with previous clients so that you can book future work and end up on the top of that wave again sooner rather than later.
In fact, if you’re experiencing some downtime, look at it as an opportunity to build deeper relationships with old clients FIRST instead of just rushing into new relationships. Because if you’ve done a great job for a client in the past year, you should feel confident in checking back in with them to say hey, what’s up? Got anything else I can do for you?
Plus, this is a productive way to spend a couple hours on a slow morning. You can rest your voice, revitalize business, dust off some cobwebs and water a languishing client relationship over a nice cup of coffee. This simple act of completing what I’ll call the “periodic check-in” helps you stay at the top of your clients’ inboxes so when a new voice-over need comes up in their office they can recall your name and mention it right away – “Remember Caroline who narrated the first book in this series/did our last automated voicemail survey/was so professional with her turnaround on that commercial? She was great and I’d be happy to reach out to her.”
Here are a few different approaches you could take.
Classic: 100% Honesty
Of course, you can always say directly, “Hey, work is slow for me and I’d love to partner with you again. Got anything coming up you think we’d be a good match for?” There’s nothing wrong with direct honesty – in fact it might be the best approach with some clients.
But if you’re looking for a little more finesse or another angle, here are a couple more suggestions for approaching past clients seemingly out of the blue without sounding desperate.
In order to make the most of your time with any of these ideas, I recommend you create a template first but leave room to add specifics for each client. This way you can use your time wisely by not creating each message from scratch while also treating each client as the awesome individual they are.
Rate Change Alert
Every six months to a year, you should be increasing your rates as a freelancer anyway. You’re more experienced and better at your job and your rates should reflect that. Whenever you do increase rates, it’s courteous to reach out to old clients to let them know when you’ll be implementing this change. In addition, you can mention a special offer – perhaps you’d be willing to honor old rates for an additional 6 months and can cut them a deal if they reach out directly or you’ll offer them a lower rate increase than new clients due to your previous working relationship. This message brings you to the top of the inbox, reminds clients how in demand you are (you’re increasing your rates after all!) and offers them a deal. Who doesn’t love a discount?
It’s always nice to send holiday greetings. Goodwill begets goodwill after all. Each year I go back through all my previous clients and send a sweet holiday e-card or message thanking them for their business while reminding them my name and simultaneously how thoughtful I am for thinking of them around the holidays. If it’s a client who’s sent you more than a thousand dollars of work in the past year, you might want to consider a holiday gift or gift card as well to thank them for their business.
General Thank You!
And speaking of gratitude – remember you can be grateful for previous clients any ol’ day of the year. Maybe wait ‘til a Thursday and send out “Thankful Thursday” messages. People love to be appreciated and you never know if you’re saying thank you at just the right moment to have work sent your way.
On most platforms (check terms and conditions) it’s perfectly appropriate to reach out to previous clients to ask for a kind word or recommendation. Perhaps you’re updating your website or your portfolio and could use some more recent recommendations. This request reminds the client of the great work you’ve done for them in the past and indicates that you’re still in business and working hard without asking directly for more work.
Social Media Shout Out
If a client is on social media, you might want to share an old project and shout them out. The exposure is good for both of you and reminds them of your past successful collaboration. This works well for #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday. (Or any day you please!)
Newsletter-Style – The “Humble Brag”
There’s always the option to send out a general professional update to clients to tell them what you’ve been up to. Make sure to word these carefully so you don’t accidentally sound too cocky, but a lot of clients would be happy and interested to hear what you’ve been up to in the voice-over world. You might mention a book you’ve recently narrated you think they might enjoy listening to (or even send them a discount code!) or an interesting project you just wrapped up (as long as you’re allowed to share details about it). Make sure you start and end the message focused on them and their needs – how can you help them in the future?
However you do it, remember that fostering relationships with clients is how you build trust over time. Often as voice-over artists we are so busy sending out auditions and looking for the “next big thing”, we forget to water the seeds we’ve already planted. Old clients are the best clients – they trust you and know your work. And if you foster that relationship, they’ll keep you in business for years to come.