As a freelancer, I know how stressful it can be to juggle working for clients and managing your own business. I love to learn from others and peek behind the curtain to see their process and how it works for their business. Therefore, I’ve decided to share some behind-the-scenes with you about some essentials in my process.
Over the past few years, I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked for me and my clients.
So, what’s the secret formula?
Truth be told… there isn’t one.
Everyone has their own process, so incorporate whatever works for you, but I’ll share my insights on what my clients have enjoyed while working with me.
1) Get to Know Them
This is a not-so-secret piece of advice, but sometimes people don’t know how to get to know their clients. For me, I work with a lot of clients remotely which doesn’t allow me to meet in person often. This leads to a dreaded feeling of back-and-forth email chains, chats, phone calls, or even text messages (I actually prefer text to phone calls). Fear not: It doesn’t have to be a negative experience. What’s my actual secret? A little bit of homework for your client.
Yes, you read that right.
YOU are going to give your client an assignment before you even start the project. Over a few years of freelancing, I developed a Client Discovery Questionnaire that helps me get to know my clients and how they think. This helps clients I work with to get on the same page as me, and it shows the pride I have for my craft. It’s all about understanding them and their needs. Bonus: it’s really helpful for you too.
2) Send a Detailed Contract
I cannot stress this enough; a contract and scope of work as a freelancer is essential. You might think it’s not a big deal because you’re just doing a quick side-project for your friend’s Aunt Cathy, but trust me. You want one.
A contract and scope of work will avoid a lot of problems later on. It will keep the project timeline and revisions in-check, as well as set clear expectations for the project ahead. A good contract always includes:
Scope of Work
# of Concepts
# of Revisions
Rights of Each Party
All that legal jargon can be intimidating and hard to understand. I’ve studied hundreds of contracts and not one was right for me. So, I developed my own and worked with a lawyer and other freelancers to ensure its stability. Get a copy of my contract template for yourself!
3) Consider a Welcome Packet
This was a winner for me. My clients loved the comprehensive introduction to the services I offer as they were shopping for a designer to work with. Not only do my clients love it, but I do too. It’s a place for me to insert some education points, especially because I work with a lot of small businesses that have never experienced working with a creative professional.
Overall, my welcome packets include important information like how to contact me, hours of operation (so I’m not getting texts at midnight on a Friday) common terminology, project definitions, pricing and a list of services. And yes, I have different welcome packets for different kinds of projects.
Welcome Packets are also a platform to explain your process. This way your clients know exactly what to expect while working with you.
4) Presentation is everything.
How you present work to your client can make or break your freelance career. I have my own templates for presenting work to clients. It makes communication and receiving feedback much easier. My presentations typically include a number of concepts, agreed upon in the scope of work, that are paired with thoughtful rationales for my creative decisions. I tend to include process reminders in my presentations too, such as a timeline reminder of when I expect to receive concept selection and feedback. This keeps both me and the client accountable for the project timeline.
Pro Tip: Label your concepts with letters or numbers (i.e. Concept A) and use page numbers in your presentations. I like to use letters because I don’t want my concepts to appear like they are ranked by a number system. Page numbers aid in communication for feedback so there’s no confusion.
Relationships are everything as a freelancer. They lead to more opportunities for working with your current clients, recommendations for new clients and overall shape your reputation as a working professional. However you want to express your gratitude is up to you, just be sure to do it. Depending on the project, I’ve sent simple handwritten thank you cards, thrown in project extras not included in the scope of work and even full-blown Client Goodbye Packets.
I won’t lie, it can be overwhelming to create all of the essentials in my design process, but it was definitely worth it. I’ve built great relationships with great people and fueled my freelance because of these essentials.
I’ve put the work in, but you don’t have to. You can download all of the products mentioned in this blog on my shop!