As a freelancer, you have the advantages of a flexible schedule, a chance to set your own rates, and to work from anywhere in the world. However, success may elude you if you aren’t professional in interacting with clients. Good communication strategies are central to what you do and will help you build a solid client base.
Your work may be excellent, but you will battle to retain clients unless you have good communication skills. Finding new clients is much more complicated than keeping the ones you already have. Here is a guide on successfully implementing your communication strategies to impress clients as freelancers.
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Write better freelancer’s job proposals
As a freelancer, you need to know how to find freelance clients. When you reach out to prospective clients and pitch your services, you must align your services with their goals and sell clients how you can help them. Take note of the following when preparing a proposal for clients.
- Show that you read the job description thoroughly and understood the client’s requirements.
- Give examples from your work portfolio of similar work you have done.
- State when you can start working on the job and when you will finish it.
- It will help to include positive client testimonials.
Pitching clients is just one of your many tasks as a freelancer. Managing deadlines, sending invoices, and keeping track of payments are other simple tasks if you automate freelance client management. If you can show right away that you are well organized, can prepare a persuasive proposal, and are professional in your communications, it encourages fruitful and beneficial cooperation with clients.
Establish the scope of work and set clear expectations
Setting a clear scope of work and expectations right from the start can help you to avoid client disappointment and misunderstandings. It is always a good idea to be clear about timelines and costs. Overestimating capacities may damage your work and reputation in general. If you are clear from the beginning, you will avoid scope creep and disputes about expenses.
You should set specific times to check in and follow up with clients. The frequency should reflect your client’s preference – some prefer daily check-ins, whereas others are more comfortable with two-week ones. Clients will feel they are in the loop if you have consistent, planned communication.
Understand your client’s communication needs
Do your clients prefer emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Insisting on communicating in a way that doesn’t suit them is a mistake. You need to be flexible and use your client’s communication methods.
- If your client prefers to talk to you on Skype, don’t keep sending them emails. They may think you don’t want to talk to them.
- If they prefer having Skype calls, you should follow them up with written confirmation. It ensures you have the critical points of the conversation in writing which can prevent future misunderstandings.
- Clients should never have to message you because they haven’t heard from you and have no idea whether a job is about to be done in time. They tend to assume the worst when you keep them in the dark. You should interact with clients in detail when the work is being discussed, but you should also be available online at other times.
- Find the balance of interacting with clients often enough to keep them informed but not so much that you waste their time.
If you have any doubts about the work, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions. You must ensure you clearly understand and are on the same page as the client. When you request the right questions and relay what you know, you allow a client to confirm or adjust your understanding, so you both have the same goal.
- The only way you can know the ins and outs of the client’s business and its needs is to get as much information as possible by asking questions. Without this understanding, you can’t personalize your work to a specific industry.
- When you interact with clients, asking questions shows your engagement and prevents you from making false assumptions. It contains the need to make later revisions and maintains a steady flow of inputs.
- It’s far better to ask questions than to deliver work that does not meet the client’s needs. You can save time and money if you go in the right direction from the start.
Commit to being professional
You need to make sure all your communication with clients is professional, even if a client is a friend. When it’s about client communication, coming across as too friendly or casual can reflect poorly on your image. If you come across professionally, you will have more credibility as a freelancer.
- Make sure you show up to meetings on time.
- Respond quickly if a client wants an answer to a question.
- Acknowledge that you have received an email, even if you have to respond in full later.
- Ensure emails are written and don’t contain industry-specific jargon or long run-on sentences. Any spelling or grammar mistakes will discredit you as a professional.
- Try to be brief and stay on point in emails.
- If you have clarification questions in one email, create bullet points to help clients address them instead of feeling overwhelmed.
Your attitude must be professional, but that does not mean you have to be clinical and cold. Your clients will want that human connection. If you can establish a good rapport with a client, you can work well together, and your projects will proceed more seamlessly. The more of a connection you have with a client, the more understood and appreciated the client will feel.
Being friendly, approachable, and positive will help you establish rapport with your clients. Try to give them your full attention and treat their needs as a priority, even when you’re very busy. Instead of saying to them that something is impossible, voice it in a way that shows you are trying your best to make it happen.
Being transparent and honest goes a long way to establishing a good relationship with clients. Otherwise, frustrations can simmer and result in confrontation. Sometimes successful interaction means saying no to clients. It may be the case if they have unrealistic expectations or if your professional opinion
is that what they want is not what they need.
When any conflict arises, you need to gently remind them about the scope of work and provide facts and figures to support what you have to say. Don’t be afraid to explain why you would take an alternative approach to what they suggest.
You may want to go the extra mile to satisfy clients, but you shouldn’t let them dictate to you and constantly overstep your boundaries. If you do this, you are likely to suffer burnout because you don’t have enough time to give proper attention to all your clients.
Always treat clients with respect
Throughout a project, clients may be excited one day and frustrated the next. Their emotions may vary, especially when a deadline is coming closer. Your role is to stay positive and calm. If a client gets angry, it doesn’t help for you to get angry too. You should always remain polite and try to diffuse the situation. If you respect your clients, they will respect you in return.
Get client feedback
Getting client feedback will help you to improve your services. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion but ask for the clients’ thoughts and ideas and listen carefully to what they have to say.
When working on longer projects, their feedback is essential to make sure what you deliver fulfills their requirements. If a client takes the time to offer feedback, you must ensure you listen well and incorporate it wherever possible. One of the best ways to show clients that you are on the same side and can work effectively together is to accept feedback and act on it.
Be purposeful in meetings with clients
If you meet with a client, it is a good idea to outline what you want to discuss. Try to tailor how you present information to suit their preferences.
- Do clients prefer short updates?
- Do they respond better to visual presentations?
- Is a back-and-forth discussion preferable?
Clients will be more receptive if you cater to their communication styles in meetings. Once a meeting is over, send a follow-up with a conversation outline. Thus, you both will stay on the same page regarding what was agreed upon.
Add a personal touch
Sometimes a slight personal touch can go a long way with clients. You don’t need to overdo it, but you may want to send a personalized, thoughtful message or a thank you note when appropriate. It will usually go down far better than a generic email. Thoughtful little touches show that you listen and you appreciate the relationship.
There aren’t many freelancers who communicate well from the start and keep it up throughout a project. Doing so can help you to stand out and will ensure you have healthy working relationships with clients. If you can build long-term, trusting relationships with clients, you are more likely to have a consistent flow of work coming your way. With a solid client base, you will no longer have to spend so much time figuring out how to find freelance clients and can spend more time providing exemplary service to your existing clients.
Deborah Wilson is a freelance copywriter, a technology aficionado, and a digital nomad. She loves connecting businesses to audiences by explaining complicated topics in plain language.