It’s been a while since you’ve heard from a client. Maybe they’ve been on vacation, or work naturally slowed down as it often does at certain seasons of the year.
You’re not concerned yet, but you want to take control over the process and reach out to them—you’re just not sure what’s the best way to go about it.
This short guide will give you all you need to catch up with your clients after holidays or quiet times, along with email templates.
First things first: quiet times are totally normal
Less communicative seasons can be intimidating.
What if the client never emails me again?, you wonder.
Before we get to how to check in, remember that quieter seasons are a-okay. In my own work, they’re usually:
Mid-December through mid-January, without fail. Clients take extended holiday breaks, and once they’re back, they’re deep into meetings, strategy sessions, budgets, and more.
Summertime aka July and August. This isn’t always the case, but I tend to hear less often from many of my clients as they take time off—totally normal with warmer weather and a slower business/marketing/sales season.
Your clients and your target industry may have other patterns of busier and quieter times. The longer you work as a freelance writer, the better you’ll get at noticing these patterns. This knowledge is valuable!
Pssst: the easiest way to figure out your naturally busy periods and downtimes is by tracking your month-to-month workload.
Use a tool like the project planner for freelance writers, which makes this easy and visualizes the whole year for you so you can make the right decisions about your workload, time off, and overall planning.
3 elements to include in your check-in email
Your check-in email depends on where you left things off with a specific client. For example, did they tell you they’ll be a bit quieter and have fewer assignments, or did the silence just happen?
Keep that in mind as you build your email using these three elements:
1. Check-in email subject line
Make your subject line distinguishable and specific, but avoid clickbait or being forceful, especially if that’s not part of your usual writing style (yes, your client recognizes your writing style!).
“Checking in about projects for Q1”
“Happy new year + checking in”
“Quick check-in about upcoming writing work”
2. Acknowledgement of the gap in communication
Begin your email by gently acknowledging that you want to pick up where you left off the last time you emailed.
There are three possible scenarios that led to that communication gap:
The client told you they’d be off work for a while
It was a natural break, like winter holidays and New Year’s (keep in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas and other specific holidays)
The communication went quiet for no apparent reason
Your email opening should reference one of these so your email takes into account real-life circumstances, not just your desire for more work from this client.
3. The ask for future assignment plans
Finally, tell your client you’re planning your upcoming weeks, months, the quarter, or the year in general, which is why you’d love to hear about their upcoming plans, strategy, and potential assignments.
If this—the act of asking so directly—feels terrifying, hear me out. This makes your clients’ lives easier. It positions you as the expert that wants full control over their workload and wants to serve their clients well.
It gives them the chance to have dibs on a spot in your schedule. If they’ve liked working with you before, this will be their signal to take action now.
The check-in email template
Subject line (choose one):
Checking in about projects for Q1
Happy new year + checking in
Quick check-in about upcoming writing work
Communication gap acknowledgement (choose based on circumstances):
[if the client was on vacation] Long time no speak! I hope you’re easing back well into work and that your break was exactly the way you wanted it to be.
[if there was a natural break like New Year’s] I wish you and your loved ones a great start to the new year. I hope these holidays treated you well!
[if comms went quiet for no obvious reason] A quick note to check in—it’s been a while since we last emailed. I hope you’re doing well!
Ask for assignments (choose one):
I’m mapping out my schedule for the next [month/quarter] and wanted to make sure I block sufficient time for any work you planned to assign to me. Let me know if you have anything in mind.
I’m excited about upcoming content work I’ll work on this [quarter/year]. Do you have any immediate or future projects I can help with? I want to ensure I can assign sufficient time for them in my workload.
I’m curious to hear how things are going on your end. Have you finalized a content calendar for this [quarter/year]? Is there anything in it I can help with? I’d love to get a new project on the board.
Sign off with a thank you and your name. That’s it!
Get right back on track
Don’t let quiet times discourage you. Now you know: all it takes is a short, 60-word email to kick things right back up like the break never happened.
P.S. The rules for following up apply here, too—if you don’t hear back to your check-in email within a week, send a follow-up note. Catching up with a full inbox is tough, and your client may have missed your email, so don’t stop at one email. One follow-up email is the minimum to aim for.