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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Boomerang Effect and How to Make it Work for You

Just as I try not to write one-shot stories, I try not to work with any one-shot clients. (Unless the person turns out to have a high PIA factor...then I become surprisingly busy if he ever contacts me again.)

I've posted before about how to turn a one-shot client into a regular. To my mind, it's not that difficult. Use the golden rule--treat your client or editor the way you'd like to be treated. Make (or better, beat) your deadline. Do what's asked of you, without whining about it. Because after 15+ years of freelancing, I can tell you that once you've done a good job for someone, he or she is much more likely to offer you another assignment--without you even asking for it. It's what I call the Boomerang Effect.

Yet you don't know when the Boomerang Effect will kick in. It might be a month after you turn in an assignment. It might be a year--or more. But I always say yes when a Boomerang client returns to me.

Case in point, last week I took on an assignment for a market I haven't written for in more than a year. The dollar/word rate isn't very high, but I said yes for the following reasons:

1. The topic is one I've written about before, so it won't take any time to get "up to speed" on the subject.
2. The story is a straightforward service piece, the kind I find easy to report and write.
3. The story is one I'll be able to reprint; it has "legs," so to speak.
4. I like the editor--she pays me promptly and is easy to work with.
5. She's a Boomerang! And even if the money is less than I'd like to be paid, I want to maintain my relationship with her.

By saying yes to this assignment, I'll keep this client in my stable of regulars--and hopefully shorten the time for the Boomerang Effect to kick in next time.

Boomerang clients cut your marketing time, and make it easier to meet your income goals because you spend less time pitching potential clients. So treat every new client as a potential Boomerang. After you finish an assignment, pitch another idea. Forward her a study or relevant news release you think she'd interested in. Stay on her radar by getting your name in front of her, and you're likely to experience the Boomerang Effect yourself.

**Of course to get a Boomerang, you have to complete that initial assignment. If you're a new freelancer, check out my ebook, Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to Selling your First Article. It walks you through a 10-step process to get your first clip and collect your first freelance check.


  1. Kelly,

    With corporate boomerang clients, do you continue to charge the same rates on subsequent jobs even when you know your research and writing time will be significantly reduced due to familiarity?

    Also, unrelated...there is a trend toward strong but sparse content, especially for mobile device platforms. It feels strange charging three hours of time, say, for what ends up looking like very little (though as writers we know that it can be harder to write that bit than a whole page of copy, if we do it well). How have you addressed this in your rates or communication?

    Thanks. I really value your advice.

  2. Good post, Kelly! Cutting down on time spent marketing is definitely a good goal when it comes to building boomerang clients. I have some that ask me to do projects as-needed, but maintaining a solid relationship is important to getting them to come back. I think that has helped me especially with my business.

    Keeping them up to date on current work is also helpful! Just posting on my Facebook page a before/after of a recent resume revision gained me a client in one of my long-time Twitter friends. Who knew social media could be so powerful?