Holidays can be complicated. They can be even tougher for freelancers. Anyone who knows my teachings surrounding branding, will tell you. I push my students to always to be seen in the marketplace. While in the practice of interpreting, we’re quite used to blending in; when it comes to getting hired, familiarity is key. Whether you choose to buy anything or send cards to anyone is your choice as a business owner. Regardless of what you decide, as always – make sure it’s branded. You don’t need to attach a mailer to a gift basket or send a card with your logo, but make sure the language you use to talk about your brand everyday is the same language you’re using when you write the note.
I personally send greeting cards to the agencies I work with, even when I don’t send them to any actual people in my life. I typically will send something that is as close to my brand as possible and no more than $2.50 stamped and out the door. For an agency that I want more offers from, I’ll drop off some Starbucks or a box of decent donuts with thank you/holiday cards. With donuts, always be sure to add a couple gluten free and avoid nuts. Cupcakes are always a great choice as well but can be slightly pricier. Every year when I’m making the rounds, I try to consider the cost and average it out over a year. If I spend $100 on a cupcake order for an agency that paid me 25k that year, over 1250 hours… I invested .08 back into our relationship for every hour. When you add up all the costs associated with running a business, it might not be worth it to you. It’s certainly something you should feel out and make a decision based on your comfort level and not the advice of someone who doesn’t work in your area.
I do it by ratio. If I’ve earned more than 10k with a single client, I’ll send a decent gift basket with a card thanking them for their business. For smaller clients and one offs you’d like to warm up for future requests a card is fine. I do always make it a point to at the very least connect with them over the holidays in an effort to show my appreciation for choosing me. How you choose your system (if at all) is of course, entirely up to you. I would just play it safe in that you want to appear as apart of their team perhaps, show them you’re still in their orbit but not come across as a desperate salesman trying to swindle them.
If you have a colleague who’s stood in for you through the year resulting in you retaining a client versus having to farm it out to a party who would sooner poach them; send a card. A Starbucks or target gift card is always a solid choice to include. You certainly don’t have to go overboard. I typically cap out at around $25 because I have a few to buy for.
Gift cards for things within the industry are always great as well but I like to avoid things I think will be too on the nose. Instead, just showing someone that you know something about them is really nice.
Years ago, I was meeting with my team for a college class at our last session of the year. I brought her a notebook with well wishes written on the inside cover along with a note of appreciation for our time together. She gave me a plant that she had propagated in a kombucha bottle from her Pothos at home. No matter what I did, I couldn’t kill the plant. It grew and grew in the same kombucha bottle for years but I dropped it and it broke. I had the plant for over 5 years and every single time I looked at it, I thought of her and wondered how she was doing. Little moments like that can make a lasting impact on your colleagues in ways you can’t really foresee. In my opinion, the holidays are a great time to take advantage of the gift giving season and show your appreciation to the people you have an opportunity to work with regularly.