When Freelancer Met Client

Today is Valentine’s Day and while many would see me as a prime candidate for someone who might relish in this holiday (been in a happy partnership for 8 years now,) I have always strongly held the belief that Valentine’s Day is bullshit. I do not practice it in the least bit. No candy hearts, no expensive dinners, it is a day just like any other day… and as per our Sunday ritual I got a lovely homemade breakfast this morning — who needs a holiday to tell us when to be thankful for each other?

32/365 - <div id="you">my Valentine</div>

But – hey all this relationship hoopla has got me thinking and you know… the process of being a freelancer, it ain’t much different than being out there in the dating world. …You don’t believe me? Well… here’s how it goes…

How I met my client…

When you first get a lead on a client, you have to pay attention to the signs to see if this is someone you want to start a project with. You get the information on the project and give out your quote. Can they afford you? Are they throwing up red flags like asking for free work or wanting to micro-manage the process?

Beware! At this stage in the game it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new project, but keep your head about you! If you are a good match for each other then it’s time to plan for the future…

I think I could spend the next 15 – 20 business days with this person…

You’ve got a new client! They have accepted your quote and are eager to get the ball rolling, but slow down… it’s time to protect yourself and your client by doing things right.

Get their deposit in the bank, draw up your contract and get both of you to sign it. These steps show that you are a professional and that you have a professional attitude about your business and their business. Are they in a rush and want to move fast? Allow for sign-offs to be faxed in or get a digital signature. You can accept payments through Paypal to speed things along. If your client is serious about getting to the next phase quickly, they will not bat an eyelash at taking the initiative to get your the proper items necessary to move things along.

They totally “got” me!

I love that first meeting with clients! You get to know each other a little better, you share a few laughs and find those common connectors. …You hate Flash intros!? Me too! :) HAHAHA!

I always leave kick off meetings on a bit of a high, I am flooded with inspiration and I usually have to race to my notebook or computer so I can start sketching out ideas, making notes and researching right away!

What do you think they’re doing right now?

Once the project is underway, I think a huge part of having a happy and successful project is to stay in good communication with your client. Don’t leave then wondering and waiting by the phone. Each of your interactions should end with you letting them know what the next milestone is and when they will be hearing from you again.

It just didn’t work out…

Every once in a while, things just don’t work out. It’s a possibility in every relationship and the designer/client relationship is no different.For whatever reason, there may come a time when you or your client decide to not see things through to the end of the project.

It is important to be professional, don’t take things personally! If you choose to sever ties, just keep in mind that you do not have control over how your client might take the news, but you can be in control of how you respond to them.

(All of the whose-whats of this break up should be easy, just defer to your project agreement!)

I’ll never forget how special they made me feel…

When your project is complete and it is time to part ways make sure you leave them feeling satisfied. Answer any questions they may have and let them know that you are available to them in the future.

Even clients who come for a small one time project can turn out to be those who send you the most referrals! Happy clients beget more happy clients.

Keep the flame burning…

Long after you and your client have completed your work together, they will always be your client. Don’t forget them when you send out promotional materials, holiday greetings, or maybe just shoot them a quick email from time to time to say hello! Not only will this remind you client that they are important to you, but you may end up reminding them that they’d been meaning to get a hold of you about some new work!

1 comment

  1. Interesting post! Client relationships are kind of like dating. You have to be a good fit for each other. You may be a great freelancer with a great client, but that doesn’t immediately mean you’ll work well together. When it comes to design work, for example, you’ve got to have a similar vision.

    By the way, I agree about Valentine’s. We shouldn’t need a holiday to express love and gratitude. :)

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