July 26, 2016

8 Ways Freelancers Can Show Gratitude

Thank YouA few days ago, I received an unexpected package: a box of goodies from Good Karmal along with a note of thanks from a fellow freelancer. It was a very sweet way to show appreciation, and with Thanksgiving approaching, it got me thinking about how freelancers can express gratitude to our clients, our colleagues, and others in our lives. Here’s a list of eight ways

  1. Write a note.
    I’m a sucker for pretty stationery, so I’ll use almost any excuse to buy a card on Etsy or break out my collection of paper goods. I may not have the best handwriting in the world, but I always enjoy getting a handwritten note, so I’d imagine other people do as well, especially since so much of our communication is via email or text nowadays. I recently got a nice card from an author who interviewed me for her upcoming book. And sometimes I’ll find a handwritten notes sandwiched inside a galley or a review copy of a book. Hint: if you don’t have someone’s mailing address, you might be able to find it at the bottom of their email newsletter, since CAN-SPAM requires emailers to include a physical address. Or you could just ask.
  2. Send a small gift. 
    Who doesn’t enjoy caramels with inspirational sayings on the wrappers? The Good Karmels were a nice surprise, but other small gifts work, too. After a Twitter follower spent some time helping me with a technical glitch in my ebook, I sent him an Amazon gift card (bonus: you don’t need someone’s physical address to email them a gift card). Books also make great gifts for the literary-minded and they’re inexpensive to ship via media mail, so I’ll sometimes send a friend a book they might enjoy just because.
  3. Link liberally.
    Bloggers want links. Journalists want eyeballs on their articles. When I come across something worth sharing, I’ll link to it on my blog, post it on Facebook or Google +, or tweet it. Linking is good karma, but it’s also a great way for your friends or followers to discover interesting content. For instance, I recently saw an interesting post on successful mom bloggers and another on ways to find new freelance clients.
  4. Leave a comment.
    Comments make a blogger’s day! Although negative comments can show that the article or post sparked debate and attracted attention (and yes, some bloggers post controversial statements specifically for this reason), I prefer to play nice. You might disagree with someone, but keep it respectful.
  5. Offer a testimonial or referral.
    Testimonials offer social proof, while referrals keep many freelancers and small businesses afloat. If, for instance, you’re partnering with a graphic designer who does an awesome job on a brochure, you could write them a recommendation on LinkedIn or refer them to some of your other clients. Remember, though, just because some asks for a testimonial or referral doesn’t mean you have to give it. And if someone writes a lukewarm testimonial or refers you to a prospect who isn’t quite right, you can always graciously decline.
  6. Give a #FollowFriday shout out.
    If you’re on a Twitter, then you’ve probably noticed people using hashtags like #FollowFriday or #FF towards the end of the week. The idea is to make recommendations about who to follow on Twitter, but in my opinion, it’s turned into a whole lot of noise. That’s why I choose just one person to highlight each week and include a short tidbit about why they’re worth following.
  7. Buy a book.
    I’ve already posted about ways that readers can help their favorite authors, and #1 was (of course) buying their book. Buy copies for yourself, give them as gifts, donate them to your local library if you can. Books have gotten pricier, but if you think about them relative to other types of entertainment, they’re pretty affordable on an hourly basis. And once you’re done with it, you can keep it to reread, pass along to a friend, or swap it on a site like BookMooch.
  8. Post a review.
    I sometimes feel guilty for not buying the full-price, hardcover edition of all my colleagues’ latest books. So, for instance, when Amazon was offering a free Kindle download of a fellow freelancers’ new book, I downloaded the Kindle version and posted a review on Amazon (mentioning that I knew her, of course).
What do you think? Anything else you’d add to this list?

Flickr image courtesy of woodleywonderworks


  1. What a wonderfully helpful post. Giving thanks always makes the person on the other end -especially when it’s unexpected – feel as good, or even better, than the giver. It os always so appreciated when freelencers are willing to help one another And full disclosure here – I was the giver behind your caramels. Glad they sparked the inspiration for this great list!

  2. These are all great ideas. And most cost almost nothing and take almost no time.

  3. great idea and great list, Susan. I would add that music makes a great gift too, and is also inexpensive to send. music from independent musicians helps support other freelancers and independent business people too.

  4. Excellent suggestions. This blogger maven especially loves the link love one.

  5. Great ideas, and good to keep in mind! I really like the idea of a simple, handwritten note, and I’m with you on the loving pretty stationary thing. I have a very finely textured, woven, pale blue, French stationary I use for handwritten notes…but I’m about to run out and need to find more!

    Along the same lines (but not quite), I recently wrote a brief piece about giving promotional drinkware (you know, like insulated travel mugs or coffee mugs with your name and logo on it) to clients as a way of saying thanks. I like the idea–getting your name and logo in front of a client on a daily basis–but I can’t think of a way to do it without seeming a bit, er, ‘smarmy.’ Also, saying, ‘Thanks, contact me again!’ is a little different than ‘Thanks, I appreciate what you did for me so much.”

    Anyway, thanks for this list. It’s reminded me to just stop and say ‘thanks’ for the sake of saying thanks, and it’s a feel-good, all around.

  6. I’m also a big fan of NOT sending gives or thank you notes the same time of year (in general or the same time as everyone else … like now). I’ve done Thanksgiving. I’ve done Valentine’s Day. I’ve done Independence Day. It’s much easier to stand out when yours isn’t one of 50 gifts an editor gets this time of year.

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Roxanne: great point! I like to send cards at unexpected times of year as well. For instance, if a colleague did me a larger-than-normal favor, I think a thank you note would be appropriate regardless of the time of year.

  7. All these are great ideas, but I think people undervalue the impact of a hand written note. They’re getting more and more rare, and people KNOW you took time when you send a hand written note. We printed note cards with paintings by the author we wrote a bio about, and use those to thank people who help the book. Big impact.

  8. Hey Susan, great ideas. I agree with Vera on hand written notes, and taking the time to finding a physical address (it’s scary how easy it is to do with social media these days).

    Just wanted to let you know I included a link to this in my latest issue of Freelancing Weekly: http://freelancingweekly.com/issue-2

  9. What a sweet idea. Like Cindy & Vera, I think there’s real power in a simple, hand-written note. But to boost someone’s visibility as a way to say thanks, I love the phrase “link liberally”

  10. I’m grateful for this post! And I agree that a hand-written note is delightful and unexpected in this day. I love writing them and receiving them.

  11. I also vote for the link love. Always makes me very happy!!
    Great reminders, Susan.

  12. I really liked many of your suggestions. Once, when I wanted to thank an agent who had declined my manuscript but written copious notes, I sent a box of cookies from Dancing Deer, a local natural foods retailer, during one of their big sales. The box looked very special, all done up for some holiday. She was very pleased. Saying thank you seems to be going out of style with the younger generation, which is a shame. I run a B&B and am always touched when guests bother to follow up with a nice note about their stay.

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Alexandra: that sounds like a very classy touch! A lot of my peers don’t send thank you notes, but my mother always taught me to do send a handwritten note ASAP and I think it’s a wonderful habit to have. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy nice stationery.

      Before I went freelance, I sat in on interviews at my current employer and one of the candidates sent a handwritten thank you note, while the others sent emails. I was surprised that the other people on the interview committee (baby boomers) thought the handwritten note meant she was out-of-touch. I argued that it showed she had class and that’s the advice they give recent grads so she shouldn’t be penalized for sending a thank you card. Don’t know if she got the job or not but I was surprised it was even an issue.

  13. what a great post! thank you for sharing this information!

  14. All good ideas. Here are a couple more: I tend to get loads of food and cookbooks during the year — more than I ever could use or review — so I do a bumper end-of-year giveaway to both spread the word and share the wealth (not to self: need to get on that.)

    And this one may sound weird but since it’s on my mind: Being gracious when you get something wrong, fixing it, and moving on. Someone flagged something on a recent post of mine, an error that crept in during editing, that I should have caught before the piece went live. But I didn’t. I asked the editor what their policy was on corrections (we made the fix) and I let readers know in the comment section re same (it wasn’t some major factual faux pas, thank goodness). My editor offered to write the comment but I felt I should own it, since it was my goof. I think she appreciated that.

    • Susan Johnston says:

      Sarah: that’s a great point! Despite my best efforts to be accurate and thorough, I’ve made a few embarrassing errors, and I always try to take responsibility and correct my mistakes.

  15. It is startling to me how few readers realize how much it means to post link to their followers or friends. If you like a certain writer, the best way to ‘repay’ them is to refer them to others, because it is the best way for them to grow their readership and get more connections. I find most don’t even realize how crucial that is to a writer’s success until you tell them and explain it.

    I definitely think that referrals and Twitter shout outs and buying books, is the greatest thanks and gift you can give another freelance writer.


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