As a freelance consultant, my current clients are the center of my business. Some small business people struggle between the need to acquire new clients while keeping their current clients happy.
It costs far more to acquire a new client than it does to maintain one, so I choose to do whatever I can to offer the best service to the clients that I have managed to attract to my business. I have been blessed with some fabulous clients, so I do all that I can to make sure that they are happy and that I am doing all that I can to meet their needs.
I have learned the value of keeping my current clients happy, so in this post I wanted to share five tips on things that you can to retain your clients.
1. Meet your deadlines
You should always under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to completing projects for your clients. This not only provides value for them, but it shows them how much you appreciate their business.
Manage your workload so that you can comfortably meet deadlines and still produce quality work.
2. Say ‘Thank You’
Find ways to show your clients how much you appreciate their loyalty. Give them something of value related to the service that you provide that will help them meet their business objectives. Speak highly of them in a public setting, re-tweet their Twitter messages, leave positive comments on their site, and recommend them wherever appropriate.
3. Always provide the best customer service
If a problem comes up, do your best to resolve it to the client’s satisfaction. Remember that the customer is always right. Show how much you value their business by going above and beyond to rectify any mistakes or misunderstanding.
4. Check in on them
Communicate with your clients occasionally and see if there is anything you can do for them. Set up Google Alerts for your client’s company name and shoot them a message when they have good news, or a mention in a magazine or a major website.
5. Ask for their feedback
Don’t be shy to ask how they are feeling about your work. Get their feedback to find out if they are satisfied and if they have any thoughts about things that you could improve on to make for a better experience or produce a better project for them.
Another benefit to keeping your current clients happy is that they are more likely to refer you to their colleagues. I was thrilled recently when one of my clients referred me to a business colleague of his. This referral has become a solid customer and a joy to work with.
People just enjoy being appreciated, and in a world where your competition is just a click or two away, forging lasting and loyal client relationships is an effective way to make sure that your business stays on track.
What are your favorite ways to show your customers and clients how much you appreciate them? Share your input by leaving a comment.
With the tag line, “The Ultimate Online Resource for Black Bloggers, Writers and Journalists,” the Black Blogger Network is the place where Black bloggers can network, promote their blog and learn new tips and strategies for growing and improving their blog. They feature articles from popular Black bloggers and writers every week, and they have a, “Black Blog of the Day,” feature where today, this blog, ”A Productive Pen,’ is the featured blog.
I found the Black Blogger Network on the Black Business Women Online (BBWO) forum, which is one of my favorite places to hang out. It’s a great place to network, make connections and see what other smart women are doing to grow their online and offline businesses.
So, I just wanted to send a quick ‘shout-out’ to Jessica Ann at the BNN to thank her for featuring my blog, and I thank everyone who is stopping by my blog from the BNN to check it out.
Here are a few fabulous blogs that I found on the BNN blog:
Motivating you to reach your dreams
Everything She Writes
Strength, Courage & Wisdom
Go check it out, submit an article or submit your blog to be the featured blog of the day, and while you are there check out some of the other fabulous blogs featured there.
This morning I received an email from LaShanda Henry, of BBWO and a host of other blogs for women of color in business, and she mentioned that Deanna @dedej, founder of Clutch Magazine, who was a panelist on the first Black Blogging Rockstars panel at SXSW 2010, is pitching a new panel for SXSW 2011 called: The Elevation of Black Women in New Media. This panel will discuss issues related to black women entrepreneurs and black women bloggers online.
So, if you are a black woman blogger, if you know one, or if you would just like to give your support to the idea of listening paying more attention to the voices of black women in new media, pop on over to the SXSW website and vote for: The Elevation of Black Women in New Media.
Blogging, if you’re not careful can turn from something exciting and fun that you look forward to with great anticipation, to feeling like an albatross around your neck. If you hit a slump where you feel bogged down, or heaven forbid, get struck with writer’s block, your blog will suffer for it.
The thing to keep in mind is that ideas are everywhere! They are in the air, on TV, at the grocery store, on the playground at the florist–everywhere. You might have a conversation with a good friend that takes an unexpected turn. You could get lost in an unfamiliar part of town, or you could be facing a new crisis in your life which moves you into previously unexplored territory in your life. Every moment of your life is bursting with inspiration and ideas for things to write about. What you must do is get into the habit of being tuned in, open to receiving it, ready to capture it and use it.
I’ve fallen woefully behind in the #31DBBB challenge with the SITs girls, but I’ve not abandoned it. One of Darren’s assignments is to come up with 10 blog post ideas. He has you do that by brainstorming and mind mapping ideas and extending them as far as you can take them. I’ve done that with this post. Last week, I had a very popular post, Blogging Tips: 7 Strategies for Keeping Up with Posting Consistently. In this post I am extending the idea of creating mechanisms for making consistent posting easier by establishing productive habits to making idea generation a regular habit so that you keep the funnel full and keep writer’s block and frustration at bay.
Remember that you started your blog because you had something to say, and you were bodacious enough to believe that other people would care enough about what you had to say to visit your blog and read what you’ve written. Your ideas are golden and when you share them with the world other people get to benefit from them. I always ask aspiring writers to name their favorite book–one that has changed their lives and that they’d read again and again. Then I ask then to think about how it would be if that author had not believed in themselves enough to put pen to paper and write that book? What if they gave in to the thought that said, “Who’s going to read your writing anyway?”
So, let’s take a look at some tips for generating ideas for what to blog about:
For most of these tips you’ll need your writer’s notebook. Keep it handy.
- Get out of the house and explore outside of your normal orbit.
- Visit a museum or art gallery
- Visit a different branch in your city’s library system in a neighborhood you’ve never been to.
- Pick up some magazines on topics you don’t usually read and discover something new.
- Read magazines in your niche.
- Make an appointment to visit an expert in your niche in person, or arrange a telephone call or request an email interview.
- Read widely on a variety of topics
- Visit a church of a denomination you’ve never heard of, or a house of worship of a different faith.
- Visit your local chamber of commerce
- Visit your local college or university and find a lecture that you can sit in on. Take good notes.
- Interview a child
- Interview a senior citizen
- Do an online search for “ideas on what to blog about”
I could go on and on here, but the purpose is to show you that ideas are everywhere. You’ve got to get into the mode of being open to receiving them. Regular readers of my blog will forgive me for using this quote again, but it’s one of my favorites about keeping yourself open to the flow of creativity that seeks expression through you:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. . .”
I urge you to seize your opportunity to express yourself and to contribute to the lives of others because that is what you are doing as a blogger. You are channeling that vital life force and translating how you see the world on to the printed page or the shimmering pixels. Keep the channel open and keep those blogging ideas flowing.
Zen Power Writing: 15 Tips on How to Generate Ideas and Write with Ease
Creating Killer Blog Content
It’s Day #7 of the #31DBBB challenge, and today’s assignment s to write a linked post. The topic I will be covering with my speed linking post today is a bit of a mashup of blog posts about a topic that is close to my heart–creating killer blog content.
As a tip of my hat to the developer of the #31DBBB, this first link is to Darren Rowse, who shares a great blog post about creating great blog content.
In this vintage, oldie-but-goodie post, seomoz shares some online tools that you can use to find ideas for blog psots:
Chris Brogan shares 40 tips for delivering killer blog content. You’ll find lots of inspiration and ideas that will help you to crank out copy that reflects your passion and your expertise.
Dosh dosh shares even more creative ways to surmount the daily challenge of delivering compelling content that appeals to your readers:
Karan Singhal provides lots f practical tips in this post about creating blog content that will interest your readers:
So, enjoy these blogs and feel free to share a link in the comments for your favorite posts that have ideas for creating great blog content.
With ‘A Productive Pen,’ going into its third year of existence, I was thinking that it’s time to have a little chat with you, my readers first to thank you for the time and attention that you give when you read my blog. I appreciate all of the comments and the positive, loving feedback that I receive from you, my fabulous readers.
In an effort to make sure that you are getting the best reader experience possible, I’ve put together a quick survey here. I’ve taken much of the text of this from Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger. I’m following his “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” challenge with the amazing women at the SITS blog and Blog Frog. I am doing the survey out of sequence because of an incident last week.
The time was right now, so I’m doing the survey now to ask you, my readers what you suggest for this blog as I move forward. I ascribe to the belief that you can get everything you want to the degree that you help other people get what they want. I have learned so much in the area of blogging, online marketing and running an online business and this blog is where I share what I am learning with my visitors.
Taking a moment to answer these questions helps both of us. Thanks in advance for your comments. I appreciate your time and your thoughts on how I can make this blog even better.
- Topics – What are the topics (specific or general) you’d like to see me cover in the coming months on this blog? What are the main issues that you’re facing as a freelance writer, blogger or online marketer these days? What would you like to learn about or grow most in for the remainder of the year?
- Types of Posts – reader questions, tutorials, case studies, short tips, guest posts, tool reviews…. have your say about what you’d like most/least
- Posting Frequency – too many posts, not enough, just right?
- Design – How do you like the design? What would you change, add, get rid of?
- Blog Features – what kinds of things would make your reader experience better?
- Community – Do you have an interest in connecting with other readers? Are there features that you’d like added to the blog help you connect more?
- What Frustrates You about A Productive Pen? What is your favorite thing about it?
- Other Ideas and Feedback – anything goes here, big or little.
The ‘Rules’ – Any feedback, suggestions, dreams or ideas that you have are welcome. While I can’t promise to respond to each comment or put every suggestion into place I make a commitment to you to read anything you have to say.
All that I ask in return is that you be honest, courteous and constructive with your comments and feedback. Thank you.
How do you handle subscriber complaints from your email list community? Do you take it in stride as a part of doing business, or does it freak you out a little bit and send you scrambling? I must admit to the latter, but I am learning to grow a thicker skin, get over myself and realize that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and that making mistakes sometimes is part of being human. In this post, I’d like to explore the idea of handling complaints, and what’s the most fruitful way to resolve an issue and move on with your day so that you don’t end up in a bit of a tizzy as I found myself the other day.
In addition to my RSS feed, my visitors are invited to subscribe to my email update list where I send an email about once a week with updates about what I’m up to in my business, I share things I’m learning, little victories and course corrections as I make them. BTW, this is a double opt-in list, meaning that subscribers first fill in a form with their own email address and then they click on a confirmation message in their inbox to complete the transaction.
So, I was poking around in my Aweber email management account setting up a broadcast message when I saw a bit of orange highlighting around one of the numbers in the stats for one of my email lists. It turns out that was in the ‘complaints’ column. “OMG!” I thought. Someone had complained about one of my emails. My heart started to beat very quickly as I opened the broadcast message in question, and it was typical of the kinds of messages I normally send, and until that particular incident, there have been 0.0% complaints. I was baffled, so I dove into the Aweber knowledge base to research what this was all about and find out what I could do about it.
But I learned that if a subscriber reports your email messages as spam to their ISP, Aweber will automatically delete that subscriber from your list. So, I took a step back and took a breath and realized that you really can’t please everyone all of the time. I will never know what it was in that email that might have pissed that subscriber off to the point that they would report it as spam because that’s a pretty serious complaint and too many of them can cause your ISP to shut you down.
When I looked at the situation I understood that there was really nothing that I could do about it, so there was no point in getting all anxious about it. If a person had complained to me directly, I could have handled it and settled it with them personally and done whatever was required to make it right, learn from it and then move on. But there is no way to address an anonymous complaint, so I decided not to let it get to me.
So, I guess what I’m trying to do here is to share this as a “teachable moment.” When you have a business where you will be dealing with the public, you will have complaints. There is no avoiding it. All you can do is deal with them and move on and not let it freak you out. Establish a policy for how you will handle complaints to make things right with the customer. Discuss the issue with your team, and if it was indeed a mistake that was made, take the opportunity to learn and grow from it.
As far as my email subscriber list goes, I am going to take this opportunity to send a little survey (which I will address in another post) so that I can get a clear idea of what they want to see more of from me, and what I should avoid. This way I can provide the best information possible for my subscribers.
But in the end some people just like to grumble and gripe and they are difficult to please. You can’t lose your confidence or cool when you come across these kinds of people. I say keep your head up and keep on plugging away and offering your very best. Some people will appreciate it, and some will not, but as long as you always put forth your best effort you are a winner.
I was collaborating with a colleague the other day, and I sent him a mind map of some of the ideas that he had asked me to sketch out. Aside from the ideas contained in the mind map, he commented that I was really good at mind mapping. I was surprised at first because I really do them rather unconsciously now, but it occurred to me that this might be another one of my hidden strengths–something I’ve gotten so good at that I’m not aware of it because it comes effortlessly and naturally to me.
Since he identified it as a strength, and since the practice of mind mapping has served me so well since I first learned about it in a college creative writing class, I will share how I use them and how you might try them to see if they don’t help to unlock the hidden gems stored up within your conscious and unconscious mind.
Concepts such as spider web diagrams, and idea sunbursting were already in practice for hundreds of years when author and mind/ brain/ memory expert, Tony Buzan copyrighted the term “mind map” and prescribed a set of rules governing how they should be constructed. Buzan and several others have written books about mind mapping, and I have listed a few in the ‘resources’ section at the end of this article.
As this article des not pretend to e an exhaustive treatise on the topic, it is my intention to share with you how I use mind mapping as a writer to help spark creativity, and generate ideas around the topic that I am writing about at the moment.
When the idea for this article came to me, I scribbled this mind map out quickly on my whiteboard, and then transcribed it to the computer using a free, online mind mapping program called, bubbl.us.
Basically, what I do is get out pens, magic markers, and colored pencils and the biggest piece of paper that I can find and I write the main idea for what I need ideas for in the center of the paper and then I draw a circle around it. Radiating out from the circle are the related ideas and radiating out from those ideas are all of the sub-ideas and tangents that spring to mind as you go along.
Sometimes you might take a related idea and do a mind map that focuses in on that thought or concept going as deep as you like. Can you see how as you write each new word another one springs to mind? I love mind maps because for me they really get my creative juices flowing and my brain cells popping to come up with new ideas to capture.
I like to move quickly when I am making a mind map. I know it seems cumbersome to start on paper and then transcribe the whole thing to the computer, but that’s just my process. Maybe if I had an iPad, with a touch screen that might be a different story. But for now, my mind and my hand work best with pen and paper or marker and white board for capturing ideas in the moment.
OK, so let’s apply this to writing. If you look at the mind map I created for this article you can see that I wrote: “Mind Mapping for Writing” in the center and drew a circle around it. Then I have lines radiating out towards the other related ideas for how mind mapping can help fuel the writing process.
Using the tool of mind mapping can virtually ensure that you will never have writer’s block again. If you get stuck for ideas, whip out a sheet of paper and start doodling a mind map. They are so organic and they free the creative side of your brain to draw connections and even come up with some innovative ideas.
Now, I invite you to try mind mapping the next time you are getting ready to start a writing project. Take a look at the resources below, try some free software, or just get out your colored pens and pencils and create one on paper. But once you try this fabulous little technique you will quickly see how effective it can be for generating ideas for writing.
The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential
By Tony Buzan and Barry Buzan