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Not sure why you aren’t getting clients? If you already know who your ideal client is, then it might be because you’re making a mistake in how you communicate with them.

When it comes to communicating effectively with clients, here are 5 important tips you should keep in mind:

Email communications make it hard to convey enthusiasm or excitement

If not done right, an email response to a potential client can come off as stilted, boring, or disinterested. It can be challenging to balance out being professional with friendly underlying tones!

One of the ways you can keep things a little more casual without sacrificing your professional voice is to use some grammatical contractions throughout (e.g. “doesn’t” instead of “does not,” “I’ll” instead of “I will,” etc.). Another way to master this is to incorporate adverbs and adjectives into your writing (for example, instead of saying “Thanks,” try “Thanks very much”). It conveys a little more personality and gives the other person some insight into who you are—it will make you more human.

Being informal does not mean using sloppy spelling or grammar

Just because you’re shortening words and perhaps incorporating more informal phrases (such as “That’s great” or “Sounds good!”), doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your spelling.

In fact, if you are going to have a more informal voice as a key component of your brand, spelling and sentence structure matters even more than if you write in a formal voice. You want potential clients to take you seriously. Always proofread your email communications before hitting the Send button.

Combine casual elements with more professional elements

If you’re using an exclamation point or two in your email communications, for example, then balance it out by signing off with a slightly more formal closing, such as “Best,” “Best Regards,” or “Sincerely.”

As much as possible, try to consider how you would feel about receiving this email if you were in the other person’s position. How much do they know about you and your voice? If this is their first time connecting with you, what is it going to make them think about you and your brand?

When in doubt, avoid using emoticons and emojis

It all depends on the feel of your brand, but as a general rule, in professional settings where you are providing a freelance service and you are responding to a stranger’s inquiry, avoid peppering your email with smiley faces. If it’s a client you’ve been working with for a while and you know each other well, by all means, toss in the odd smiley face. Just be sure that it’s in an appropriate place to do so!

As a blogger, when I connect with other bloggers, I'll often use emoticons or emojis in my communications—it’s common among bloggers to use smiley faces. But it’s something I avoid doing for potential clients unless I know it’s something they’re really into, which brings us to the next point...

Try mimicking the language your clients use

This goes for your clients in general (what type of language does your target audience use?) as well as individual clients. If someone reaches out to you with tons of exclamation marks and emoticons, and you respond with a formal email because that’s typical of your brand, they might not be as interested in working with you.

People want to work with others who reflect their attitudes, values, and personality—and one way to demonstrate that is through our language and writing style.

This isn’t to say that you should change who you are or deceive people in your communications, of course! On the contrary, it’s about showing different people different aspects of your personality depending on which fits with them the best.

Sagan Morrow has a decade of experience as a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager. She is the Chief Communications Officer at Juxta Communications and loves being able to pass on what she’s learned over the years with other freelancers, in between doing her client work.