Hey little Australian freelancer, are you undecided about gifting your freelance clients? Here at the Freelance Jungle, we never look a gift horse in the mouth. We also try not to jump over the gift horse and land in difficult territory.

Choosing to give client and supplier gifts is a personal decision. I’ve met many a freelancer that has stumped up for gifts for their clients only to find not even a “thanks” gets transmitted via text.

I’ve also met some Australian freelancers that get caught out by not giving anything and getting a huge gift from their client instead. Awkward!

Giving gifts to your freelance clients can be a positive event. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider gifting your clients. And how you can do it without breaking the bank

The case for gifting your freelance clients

If December sees you in boardshorts with beer in hand, laughing heartily at all the snow-covered Christmas paraphilia like me, getting all festive seems incongruous.

But gifting freelance clients can be an opportunity in disguise.

Here are some of the ways I have justified giving gifts to my freelance clients in the past, even when many of them haven’t even said a happy word of thanks:

  • A deep-seated sense of gratitude at your clients choosing to stay with you. This is particularly helpful if you’ve raised your prices and/or they’ve hung with you for a while or through some turbulence
  • Reminding clients with one off projects that you’re still around. Could be good to be on their radar for future work or if it’s been a while between projects
  • To give your clients something nice to say to their contacts and friends. Nothing starts a conversation at the end of year party quite like your exquisite gift in full view on someone’s desk
  • It’s an excuse to make direct contact. Checking on the gift’s arrival is a great way to justify a follow up call for an alleged stage two when you don’t want to seem like a ball-crazed Labrador chasing down game
  • Getting your brand in front of clients. If you’re clever about it, it’s a great way to plant some branding on their desk so you’re front of mind, always
  • Displaying your mad skills. They may have asked you to write, design or code the most boring piece of beige dry-wall in marketing’s history. Doesn’t mean you can’t put on your creative clobber and show them your sexy, colourful and humorous side

Here’s the point where I say you’re either on board or you aren’t. Warm hugs and goodbyes to you who remain unconvinced.

Those of you that will continue to meander down this blog into the happy region of client gift suggestions, let’s hold hands. It’ll make me feel all festive and shit. Naw!

Show you’re generous of heart

One of the things to remember about giving is that freelance clients like generous gestures. That doesn’t mean you have to splash out on huge hampers with bottles of expensive plonk.

In fact, as someone that worked agency side and was someone’s client for 15 years of my career, please don’t. I know hampers look like the easy fix but there’s only so many bottles of gourmet olives, weird spreads and exotic fare the tea and coffee can sit beside in the tea room. Some bastard always snakes the wine and never shares. Tears ensue.

Charity giving however is grand.

You can use some of those wonderful charity eCards that an organisation can choose to give their currency to. Or with a bit of web stalking, you can find if there is a corporate responsibility program at your client’s office and give to the same program.

You can also choose your own charity and give in their name- though do your research first to avoid hitting a cultural landmine.

Or you can give all manner of stationery, beautiful cook book and special items from a variety of different charities. I personally have had a lot of success with Goodwill Wines and giving bubbles in the name of Assistance Dogs Australia and gifting the rescue dog calendars and fetching puppies’ diary from Fetching Dogs.

By giving to charitable organisations and/or buying products that support them, you help charities while demonstrating your care for the wider world. All while doing great business.

How’s that for a gift-giving home run?

Personalise what you send

Using your skills to create your cards, eCards, special seasonal out of office email and more can help demonstrate your value, challenge you creatively and stand out from the crowd.

Think about the ways you can reach out to your client by using your skills effectively.

As a writer, I know Christmas letters, poems and stories are a great way for reaching out.

Designers and photographers have the edge with handmade cards. Designers and developers can make wonderful eCards and Christmas apps.

Film and illustration specialists can also send a memorable holiday message. All kinds of makers and artisans that combine the creative skills can hit the ground running.

Woo your freelance clients with all your artisan might and see what results!

Make something useful

When I was on someone’s freelance clients roster, I appreciated the stuff that helped me do my job easier the most.

One of the most helpful things I ever received working agency side was a colour match slide with the pantone and HEX information included on it. It was given to me by an independent printer broker I worked with that knew I am red green colour deficient.

They were aiming to make my life simpler, but they honestly didn’t know how much of a world it opened to me. I could effectively proof artworks without having to get second opinions. I could check the work supplied by printers to make sure they hadn’t used “near enough is good enough” colour choices.

It was simple, useful and I still mourn the loss of it today.

For the printer’s part, he became my go-to print broker. I actively sought any opportunity to give him work.

It felt like he had my back. He understood me and wanted to make my life simpler. That’s a whole bag of trust and reliability gained in one simple gift.

As freelancers that regularly make campaigns, we know our freelance clients often hire us because we’re filling the gap in their knowledge and skill-set. So why not use end of year and celebratory gift giving to help school them?

Some ideas for gifting freelance clients in this way might be:

  • The similar sort of colour rule or swatch book I have described above
  • An SEO template to help your freelance clients optimise their blogs easier
  • A key, scale or list of commonly used terms that helps your client understand symbols, sizes and acronyms or phrases
  • A social media checklist to help them remember where and how to share content
  • A physical tool with engraving
  • A magnet for grammar or tips they can stick to the lunch room fridge
  • Die cuts for presentation boxes with a sample they can send their products in
  • Post-its, notepads, good quality branded pens and other stationery
  • Formulas and calculators for the number crunching moments
  • An infographic or map on how to do something

Think about something that would make your life easier through not having to explain it. Or not needing to continuously help with a small task. Look for a way you can streamline some part of their process through paper, card, tools or automation.

Brand it, send it and enjoy the difference in more ways than one.

The bottom line on freelance clients and gift giving

Giving freelance clients gifts is not mandatory, it’s a suggestion.

If you do decide to give your clients gifts, you don’t have to be Rockefeller and give expensive gifts. What you should aim for is memorable. As a freelancer, you have an edge over the rest of the pack. You could create and invent ideas. So why not put that to good use when it comes to putting yourself on the client end of year radar?

Plus, you can do this sort of gift giving at any time. At the end of a project, EOFY, when your client hits a milestone and all manner of seasonal holidays. You can even play the rebel card and claim you’re sending an anti-holiday gift.

Put your best creative idea forward and give those freelance clients a special tickle today!  

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