Freelancing isn’t always easy. Whether it’s a difficult client, malfunctioning software, or simply a bad case of creative block, it can become a real struggle to keep your cool. But if you want to be recommended and get repeat business, it’s vital that you keep your clients happy. That means no matter what’s happening on your end, you’ve got to stay calm and confident, as well as keep your client in the loop. And while that isn’t always a walk in the park, in this article we’re going to give you a cheatsheet. With these simple tips, you can get that ultimate freelancer attitude down – even when you’ve got 10 looming deadlines, Photoshop won’t open, and you can’t remember the last time you had a half decent idea. Let’s get started.
1. Always be confident
Buyers hire you for a professional service. Normally, they’re hiring you to do something they can’t do on their own. They probably don’t have the same level of knowledge that you do, so they’re relying on you to deliver an awesome result. If you act unsure or confused, you’ll just spook them…And believe me, the last thing you want is a worried client hounding you at all hours of the day and night!
So, how do you make sure a client doesn’t lose their faith in you? The answer is simple: confidence. Address your clients with confidence, and you’ll reassure them that you’ve got the project comfortably in hand and will deliver on time. Often all this takes is a small adjustment to the way you address them. For instance, when pitching on a project, avoid phrases like “I think” and “perhaps”. Instead, explain with certainty how you’re planning to tackle their brief. If you sound confident in your approach, they’ll be more likely to hire you. After all,if you know exactly what you’re doing, it’s less effort for them!
On top of this, make sure you keep the client in the loop. Send them updates with as much detail as possible that tell them how their project is progressing and what your thoughts are. Don’t go weeks without an update. An in the dark buyer is an unhappy buyer!
2. Look after your clients
The most important thing when freelancing is showing that you care about the buyer’s project, and that you’re going to put in the effort it deserves. You can show them this at every stage of the project. Before you start working, make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make the project a success. For instance, research their company website and show genuine interest in what they do. Ask them what they hope the results or ROI of your creative work will be. This shows you care and that you’re committed to giving them the result their business needs.
The next one should hopefully go without saying: even though you’re your own boss, it’s not an excuse to be disrespectful towards buyers. Never be sarcastic, make jokes at their expense, or put them down. They might not be your employer as such, but ultimately they are paying you to do a job. And that means treating them nicely – even if they have just asked why they can’t just make themselves a logo in Microsoft Paint. If in doubt, take a deep breath and bite your tongue.
Sometimes projects just don’t work out quite as well as you hoped, and sometimes it is definitely the client’s fault. For example, if they’re terrible at communicating what they want, it’ll be hard for you to do the work properly. But if this (or anything else) happens, don’t be rude about it, or show them up about their failings. Make the best of it that you can. Remember, you’re the one with the experience, not them, so help them rather than criticise them. For instance, if they’re struggling to give you the info you need, make a questionnaire for them to fill out about their project. Criticisms will only make you both feel worse, and ruin the working relationship.
3. Perfect your follow-up message
Perfecting the art of the follow-up is essential in any business, and that includes freelancing! There are two main types of follow-up message for freelancers:
- Check in
- Apology for late delivery
For remote freelancers in particular, regular check ins are essential for showing your client you’re serious about their project. When you check in, it’s really important to send over the work you’ve already done, even if it’s a bit sketchy or a rough draft. It shows the buyer how far you’ve really got. Evasive freelancers can be really annoying to deal with, and sending over regular, honest updates shows that you’re not one of these. Remember to be clear about what stage you’re at, and when you’ll be sending over the next draft.
If things do go wrong, be prepared to apologise. If you’re late completing a piece of work, it’s important to be honest and provide a full explanation. Don’t lie or evade – after all, “My dog ate my homework” style excuses are very transparent. You should also offer a revised date for the project’s delivery. But make sure this date is realistic – don’t underestimate it to appease them, as when you’re inevitably late again it will only make the situation worse!
Looking for freelance work to test your new attitude on? Visit our projects page.