Whether you are just starting out as a freelance expert or consider yourself a seasoned veteran in this field, there are always benefits of trying to fine-tune the process of working with clients on a freelance basis.
Ideally, as a freelance expert, it is your main objective and target to oversee that the process between when you are initially engaged on a project to the successful completion of the project runs as smoothly as possible. As an expert, you don’t want your client to keep pressing you for updates because you haven’t agreed on milestones or established clear communication lines. This will not only frustrate the client but will also take away valuable time that could have been spent on your high impact activities for the project.
To help you get started with a new client, we have outlined below some actions you can implement from the beginning.
Follow up with a direct message
When a client approaches you for a project they need help with, it’s advisable to take the initiative to follow up with a direct message inquiring more about their project, expectations and how you will help them. If you can’t assist the client then let them know the reasons why you are unable to assist, for example you don’t have the capacity to take on the project or you feel that you are not the right expert for the project. Failure to do this may result in another expert winning the project or the client feeling that you don’t care, which may prevent them from approaching you again on another project.
Learn how to evaluate the best quote for a project
A majority of you will agree that one of the deceits aspects of freelancing is evaluating and calculating what your time is really worth as an expert.
Over quote a project and not provide enough value to client and you risk losing a good client to another expert. On the other hand, if you quote too low the client may cast serious doubts on your level of experience and as they are seeking experts they already understand the best person for the project is not the one who quotes the lowest. Either way, it is paramount that you have a basic understanding of what the project entails and the expectations of your role as a freelance expert. By understanding the project scope in more detail, it allows you to justify your costs to the client by providing them with a detailed breakdown of the tasks and value you will provide to them.
That being said, the quote that you send to the client can either be fixed or subject to negotiation after a more in-depth discussion with the client. At this stage, it is very important to make sure that both parties reach a mutual agreement about the final price.
Holding a brief consultation session before commencing work on a project gives the client the opportunity to get to know you better and understands how you plan on executing the project or task. As is often the case, most clients nowadays will strongly insist on talking over the phone or via video call before engaging a freelance expert on a project. Avoid exchanging texts or emails during this process and organise a time for a phone call, video call or face to face meeting, as this creates a more genuine and personal connection with the client which is necessary for the success healthy working relationship.
In addition, it also gives you the opportunity to understand your client and the project on a deeper level and to clarify any ambiguity’s you might have on the project. It is during this stage that you can get a clear picture of the exact scale of the upcoming project and give a new quote if required.
Draft a contract
Once the new client is satisfied and happy to proceed with you on the execution of the project, formalise it in an official contract or an engagement letter as it will it will protect both parties.
It is not uncommon to come across cases where experts weren’t paid simply because there was a misunderstanding between a client’s expectations and an expert’s perception of it. Some other clients will change their mind after the delivery of the project or try and change the project scope and terms as you go. A contract, which at times may seem unnecessary, does a lot to get the expectations of both parties in writing and clearly spells out the scope and consequences that would be meted on each party for failing to hold up their end of the deal. This, of course, leaves zero room for future misinterpretation.
Create clear lines of communication
The final step of starting to work with a client on a freelance basis is creating a mutual means of sharing resources and creating clear lines of communication. This could be through Skype, WhatsApp, Slack, Dropbox or Asana, where each of you and other parties involved in the project can easily share documents and communicate with each other that is required for the successful completion of the project.