Dear Dr. Freelance: When I’ve had my freelance resume critiqued, the advice I got was that I needed more quantifiable numbers and freelance client results to show the impact of my work. But when I send a press release or brochure copy to a client, I’m often not privy to what happens next, and I’m not sure they’d want to share sales figures with me, especially if they knew I’d be broadcasting it on my resume. Any advice?—Susan Johnston
Dear SJ: You’ve touched on a critical challenge in freelance business practices. Many clients don’t measure their results; some because they don’t think it’s worth the effort, others because they’re fearful of discovering a 0% return on investment (ROI).
On the other hand, your more sophisticated clients may well have a wealth of information about response rates, sales figures and ROI. And, as you’ve learned, the second group will also likely be more demanding of your freelance resume.
As a freelance business owner, you can coax out freelance client results on a couple of fronts, such as…
- Ask upfront. Don’t wait till everything’s done. Make sure the client knows that you’re interested in whatever results can be shared before you start the project. (Note: Measuring can sometimes backfire, as I shared in a Jake’s Take post almost exactly a year ago: “You may be a winner…or maybe not.”)
- Encourage measuring at least some aspect of the project. Particularly for smaller clients that may be inclined to take a who-cares attitude, simply bringing up the topic will underscore that you’re business-savvy, confident and looking out for their best interests. Explain how the results will help everyone be more successful in targeting efforts in the future.
- Let them be anonymous. Even if there is some sort of competitive issue that keeps them from sharing the precise data or their company name in your freelance resume, most will be comfortable with something vague: “Wrote direct mail campaign for client in the technology industry that resulted in two new contracts worth $150,000” or “Wrote press release for client in mortgage business that secured them an interview in the business section of the city daily newspaper.” Not quite as nice as being able to name-drop a Fortune 500 company, but better than nothing!
- Create your own measurement. The one measurement of freelance client results that is 100% under your control is your own clients’ customer service satisfaction. A short, annual “How am I doing?” survey of your clients will give you a nice chunk of data that you can provide prospective buyers of your freelance services—in addition to building loyalty and offering guidance on where you can improve your business practices.
In the comments…How many of your clients share this kind of data? Have you been able to convince any of your clients of the value of measuring results?
Sunny Conley says
This is an excellent article. To be honest, I never thought about having my clients fill out a survey re: the service they received by *me*. But freelancers are a company!
Dr. Freelance says
Thanks for commenting, Sunny. It’s a worthwhile thing to do, just make sure you follow up—which is arguably even more important than the survey itself!
I always envy writers who have impressive statistics on their site. Whenever I’ve asked about measured ROI on something I’ve done, I never get concrete answers I can use. It’s usually just “everyone loved your article” or something vague like that. I do have a few solid results from press releases I’ve written, although who’s to say whether it was my press release that did the trick or just landing in front of the right editor at the right time? But I think I’m going to take your advice about discussing it at the start.
Very good topic.
Dr. Freelance says
Thanks for commenting, Valerie. I’d imagine some of the “article love” could be converted into testimonials, which definitely add value to your portfolio. And as for measuring the impact of a press release, I would tout whatever results you have—I don’t think most people would question a claim unless it was totally outrageous. If anything, it gives you something to discuss with a potential client, right?