Dr. Freelance: I have been contacted by a few potential clients who found me on various lists. They asked me if I am interested in taking their proofreading tests but then don’t send the tests to me. How much time do you suggest on client follow-up? Thanks!—Concerned Proofreader
Concerned: Great question, and I have a couple of thoughts. Ideally, client follow-up is something that you define in the initial contact: 1) ask when you can expect to receive the test, 2) when the client would like you to follow up, 3) who the point person is, and 4) when the project deadline is, because you can use that as leverage in the sales process. In general, the sooner you follow up, the better.
- If the client said something like “I’ll send it to you by Wednesday,” I would call before the end of that business day if you haven’t heard anything.
- If they didn’t specify, I’d give it 24 hours. So if the client contacts you in the morning, wait until at least the following morning. If they contacted you in the afternoon, the next afternoon. You want to be persistent…without being a pest.
- You may be in a competitive situation with other proofreaders, so if you wait two or three days, the client may have already picked someone else.
Some preach that you need to play hard-to-get and not appear too eager. I’ll politely disagree. Personally, I like working with and hiring responsive freelancers who don’t let stuff fall through the cracks. We’re in a deadline business, and client follow-up is part of the gig.
Best of luck, and please let me know how it turns out!