We often hear horror stories of freelancers who got burned while working for a client. Stories of non payment or delayed payment are not uncommon and the fact that we are dealing with people we don’t know and are hard to track down on the other side of the world makes it all the more complicated. Freelancers who have had a negative experience couldn’t do much else but to bite the bullet and get on with life.
In theory this sounds very noble and generous, but in practice it can burn us big time. Sometimes so much that some freelancers quit after experiencing such a misfortune.
But before you worry about misfortunes, let me tell you that they are rare. I’m not saying they don’t happen, but generally clients are people just like us wanting a service they pay for – we as the freelancer provide this service and that is how an often verbal contract gets entered.
By verbal I mean email communication. Some clients require us to sign a digital contract (these are usually the long term jobs) and others are fine to state their terms, offer and job description through email.
If you prepare yourself adequately you can minimize the risks of getting burned and the following bullet points will point you in the right direction.
9 Success Steps to Dealing with A New Client:
- Make sure you totally understand what is being asked of you. It pays to double check with the client if you are not sure about something before you start your work.
- Decide whether you want to be paid upfront for your services or a percentage of the agreed pay. This will become more an issue once your pay rate increases and the stakes get higher.
- Arrange payment method upfront (PayPal, Check, Direct Bank Deposit)
- Get the details of your employer if you can (Address, phone number, email which you should have through your conversations) And don’t be shy to return the favor.
A note on email: I’m always cautious when I see a business person using a Yahoo email address. It is just not professional enough.My alarm bells go up and this usually makes me check the clients credentials even harder.
- Discuss delivery method of the finished product. Does your client want the work delivered in Word, Excel, PDF or Notepad? Understand what’s is needed. You probably know that delivering big files via email is a pain in the butt. Many email providers have file size restrictions and even if you zip up your work some email providers simply can’t cope and your work will never be sent.
Tip: I always zip my clients work files and upload them to my server. It is easy for them to click on the download link at their end and I don’t have to crash my email provider.
- Agree on a delivery date! And then deliver on that date! This is important if you want to gain credibility. ALWAYS check with your client when he wants the work delivered by. If you are snowed under with existing work don’t be shy to tell your new client that it will take a few days longer. It is far better to state this upfront than having to email the client on the delivery day and say you are sorry but the work isn’t ready yet.
- Be courteous when engaging in email or phone conversation. Remember, your client isn’t your buddy yet. He might become one in the future but for now remember to treat him with respect and courtesy at all times.
- Once you deliver the work be sure to ask whether all is to the clients satisfaction. Offer to change things if needed.
- Ask for a testimonial after you are done and paid for. Many freelancers fail to ask because they might be afraid or feel too self conscious to do so. Testimonials will become part of your branding efforts and will help to attract new clients.
Bonus Tip: Once a client becomes a regular and you have worked for him for some time be sure to ask for a pay rise if deemed deserved. Since you become more experienced and provided you keep up your great work standards you fully deserve a pay rise and if you don’t ask – you might not get it.
If you stick to these 9 success steps to dealing with a client, you should be fine and your freelance gigs will go smoothly.
Please let me know if I forgot some important step, I will gladly add it as a bonus tip with a link back to your site.