As an entrepreneur, it’s clear that as much as you would like to reduce costs, you can’t be good at everything. Most likely you’ll end up delegating tasks and paying freelancers or companies to do the things you lack expertise in (web design, accounting, sales, etc.). It could also be that you don’t want to spend time on certain tasks in order to focus on more important elements such as securing your first contracts.
I’ve encountered a few freelancers in my entrepreneurial journey and some things really caught my attention. I was unsure how to deal with them at the time but after a period of reflection, I’ve decided to write this post. If you’re a freelancer, I have some advice that could make a difference to a prospective client.
1. Understand the brand
I have to say, when I gave my brief for a project and looked at the 1st proposal I was a bit… puzzled. There was nothing wrong with the outcome but it was just not in the spirit of my brand: One Vision Tour. As a professional, you should be able to sense if what you’re doing, the images you’re using, as fun as they might be, represent the brand of your clients. So even though your clients sent you examples you can draw from, do not take it for granted and go beyond what is expected. And if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. It’s better to make sure that everything is understood and you fully embrace the brand compared to going crazy and having to re-do everything.
2. Avoid being cheap
If you have a good portfolio, the value of your work should be reflected in your prices. If you think a low price will attract entrepreneurs, maybe, but they will quickly go the other way if anything goes wrong or when they will grow. Some entrepreneurs invest their own personal finance (like myself) and want to make sure that this money is well spent. So trust yourself and your skills and go for a reasonable price. Ask your fellow freelancers how much they charge depending on their experience and then position yourself. Also, if your client asks for too many modifications or extra services, it is OK to be flexible and accommodating but also remind him/her there will be others costs involved.
3. Initiate a follow-up with your clients
If you sent me a quote 1 week ago and I still did not reply, email me again. It shows that you care about your clients and that I’m not just one among many others. It might be that I have a question or disagree with some elements but if you make the 1st step to talk it through, you will have the opportunity to clarify your offer and maybe win the contract in the end.
4. Meet them in person
There is nothing better than meeting someone to talk about a business project, clarify elements and build a relationship. So if you’re located in a different city/area from your client, no problem. Otherwise, offer to meet with your client directly and include that fee in your quote (or offer it as a gift, up to you).
5. Do not bitch about other clients
What does it say about you if while discussing my project, you compare it to one of your other clients and then highlight huge flaws about it? Not good. So even though you might want to prove a fact by using your clients as an example, try to stay as neutral as possible. Plus, it also shows that you do not respect confidentiality, which is the foundation of a business relationship. So avoid the gossip and focus on how you can create a good experience with your client.
6. Avoid giving too many options
It is good to have options in a quote. But too many can make your client feel lost. So yes to final recommendations regarding what are the best options for a specific project and no to a list of options that can overwhelm and potentially confuse your client.
7. Try not to criticize your client’s project
Yes, it happened to me and that was not a pleasant experience. Even though you disagree with the company name, the logo, the business, its services, etc. if you agreed to take it on, do not criticize it during the 1st meeting. And if you do, make sure you do it in a respectable way and have suggestions for improvement instead of doling out to unfiltered criticism. Also, as a freelancer, always keep in mind that you are creating a business relationship even though you might meet in a laid-back environment like a café. So respect your client and the work that has been done so far and he/she will be happy to hear your suggestions to make it even better.
8. Build a relationship
Keep in touch to facilitate trust and create a lasting relationship. Don’t just send quotes or progress reports: try to get to know your clients, tell them a few things about yourself, laugh and build a personal connection. By building a relationship, it will be easier to gain your client’s trust, secure business contracts, build your network — which will open doors for you in the future. So don’t be shy or play the role of the conservative professional! Always stay true to yourself when dealing with your clients. This will make you stand out in the long run.
And you, as a freelancer, do you have any advice to give to entrepreneurs?