Last month’s post, Are You Dating Your Client?, covered the stages of commitment from flirting to marriage. But the road to long-term freelance bliss is paved with clients who aren’t quite right, because, to paraphrase Greg Behrendt and his famous dating book, “they’re just not that into you.”
Maybe their boss is on their back about cutting costs. Or perhaps they’re not really sure what they need. Either way, it’s not you, it’s them. And if you don’t carefully manage him or break up with Mr. Wrong, then there’s a real possibility that you’ll end up with a broken heart. Or at least, shattered confidence and the sick feeling that you’ve just wasted your time.
Here’s our field guide to identifying and coping with these types of clients: Continue Reading
It’s hard to get on the same ball with some clients. You have a consultation, perhaps exchange detailed material and you think the project will work out great. You and your client are on the same path and they will love that first draft, right? Then why, after you submit that first draft, do some clients say the material was not exactly what they wanted?
Well, it can be them. Or it can be you. Sometimes, it can be both. Somewhere along the way, the right look, feel or tone of the work can get lost in translation. Even a seasoned freelancer can become confused or frustrated when the client says that the project wasn’t what they expected and the deliverable “needs work.” (Or worse, “is no good.”)
I’ve been in this situation a few times as a copywriter. Sometimes a client will say that the copy needs work, which is understandable. Rarely do you get things “just perfect” the first time around. Some clients are cool even though they don’t like the first draft and will work with me to polish it up. Others want to write you off and start searching for a new freelancer, even if you offer to work with them on it. Regardless of what the client’s attitude is, here are a few ways to help prevent that first draft from being in left field. Continue Reading
Being a freelance web designer certainly has its perks. You get to make your own hours, set your own rates, and control your own professional destiny. I’d add that designing for the web, like any freelance field, is a craft that most of us are truly passionate about. There’s something about the merging of beautiful design and cutting edge technology that keeps our creative juices flowing and keeps us endlessly engaged in our work.
But as any freelancer or small business owner knows, sketching diagrams, arranging pixels and constructing code make up only a small part of this profession. At the beginning and the end of the day, it’s still a business, which brings it’s own inherent challenges. At the top of the list is something we all must deal with every day: managing client expectations.
In this article, I intend to cover several aspects of working with clients as a freelance web designer (but these tips apply to any freelance profession, really). These are all based on my own experiences and lessons learned the hard way.
The tips I offer here will benefit not only the health and stability of your business, but your own personal health and well-being as well. Stress is a killer. When you’re running your own business, stress often goes unnoticed to outsiders as and sometimes yourself. By effectively managing your client relationships, you’re also keeping your own stress level in check. When you’re feeling good, you do good work and prosper. It’s as simple as that. So let’s get into it. Continue Reading
Working with clients is a tough job but someone has to do it, and most of the time it’s us! While the concept of giving your clients exactly what they ask for seems a daunting task, I’ve come to accept that there are certain invaluable truths which freelancers need to underpin. It’s an unfortunate fact of nature that we will all suffer at the wrath of a bad client at some stage, but using the following five essential rules, you can build a client relationship that makes the most of your abilities. Continue Reading
I’ve mentioned a few times that I am still a bit new to freelancing, but I have been lucky enough to have established some outstanding clients, online and offline.
I have enough clients to pay my bills and put away a bit of cash each month to help me prepare for future lean months (Amber Leigh Turner did a great post here on creating a paycheck template). I have enough clients to understand which ones are OK clients, and which ones are excellent. The OK clients might have bigger budgets occasionally, but they seem to be sporadic and hard to predict. And their payment practices may not be the most favorable within the freelance world. The excellent clients are the ones that have a regular project on a monthly basis. It might not be the biggest budget, but they aren’t grinding you for every dollar spent. The excellent clients seem to know what they want, appreciate that you are an expert, and let you do your thing. And they pay–quickly.
I’d like to send my top clients a gift, but how gifts for clients are perceived. I wonder if client gifts aren’t potentially counterproductive. If they see it as a bribe or kickback, they might question my integrity. If they see it as excessively opulent, they might question my rates. I’d like to do something more than a 15% off coupon for their next month of service, but I want to ensure that I am not damaging my future relationship with them.
Any suggestions? Continue Reading
In the freelance world, you have the freedom to put whatever you want on your business card. The job position you choose will show your audience a glimpse of what they can expect from you and your company.
We’ve shared some templates for you to create your own business card, and some great examples of unique business cards, but what you call yourself is as important as the visual appeal of your card. Continue Reading
I think I experienced a new first for me in my life of freelancing. I responded to a tweet looking for a copywriter to do some basic web copy.
I responded, and chatted with the client for a little bit, discussing his needs and my offerings. Things were moving in the right direction. He seemed to be happy with the price I quoted, and I felt like I had a decent handle on what his expectations were.
Towards the end of the discussion, the conversation that had started out fairly professional had become almost casual. He asked me a question about a marketing concept, and I shared my thoughts about it. I understood the concept, but I told him it was tired and probably wasn’t a good fit for his product. And then the call got very quiet. He was still very polite, and said he would be in touch with me to get the project started, but I haven’t heard from him in a week now.
I’m pretty sure I successfully managed to talk my way out of a new project. Yay. But at least I learned when to stop talking. Continue Reading
It used to be that freelancers were limited to the cities we live in for clients. On occasion, some freelancers could land clients and handle projects through mail, but most companies preferred to work with someone based nearby. Technology has improved since then, letting most freelancers take on clients no matter whether they’re around the corner or on the other side of the globe. It’s a good thing: we get access to more work and, quite often, higher pay rates than we could get locally.
But there are a few considerations to look at before freelance contracting for international clients. These considerations don’t mean that you shouldn’t take on clients outside of your own country, of course — it’s a matter of making sure that working with those overseas clients (and getting paid) is as easy as when you can just walk down the block and knock on the client’s door. Continue Reading
I’m a great believer in targeted marketing and specialization. Focusing on particular types of clients and offering services aimed tightly at specific needs enhances your appeal to those clients at the same time it improves your efficiency, resulting in better margins on your work.
But it is possible to market your business by having more than one target for your services. Unfortunately, many people expand their targets haphazardly, drifting into others kinds of clients and services by accident as opportunities come up.
If you are looking for ways to expand your audience for your services while still taking advantage of the efficiencies and other benefits of focusing on a target market, examine the two-sided relationships:
- between you and your client
- between your clients and their own customers, suppliers, and so on.
By taking this “two-faced” approach to relationships, considering the alternate perspective that you usually leave to your client, you may find new services to sell, and new customers to sell them to. Continue Reading
In fact, after talent, knowledge and experience, time is your most important resource. And since there are only so many hours in a week, you need to treat that time with great care. That includes qualifying every potential opportunity to make sure it’s a good fit for you.
So how do you make decisions about which clients and projects to pursue and which ones to turn down? It all starts with what I call ideal client profiles.
The ideal client profile is simply a very clear description of the type of client you would love to have more of. It may be an exact replica of a client you’re working with today. Or it could be a combination of qualities you’ve seen in past and current clients.
Whatever that profile is for you, the important thing is that you have a very clear image of that individual. Doing so enables you to make decisions that will improve your income and your level of happiness at work. Continue Reading
Yesterday, I got very upset at a client. The reason isn’t relevant, but I spent part of the afternoon opening and closing the sites I use to communicate — my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on — thinking about saying something about how upset I was, warning other freelancers off of this particular client and generally venting. In the end, I didn’t post anything, because I knew I’d burn plenty of bridges with just one unfortunate comment.
The client in question is savvy about social media and would have undoubtedly seen any comment I made. Even if this person would not have seen any remarks I made online, it still would have hurt me in the end. Negative commentary about clients in a public venue can’t help but cause a freelancer problems down the road. Continue Reading
When making contact with a client, do you know what they do? What they represent? Who they want to reach? In short, do you know who they are and what they do? Reading about the company or client you do work for is important, this way you get a head start when it comes to contact and to understand their needs.
From years of experience in freelancing, I’ve learned that clients and companies love to see that you know what they do, what they stand for and who they are. If you know a couple of important things about them, they will be surprised, happy to work with you, and they will recommend you to others. Of course, you still need to do a great job for them. Continue Reading