An issue freelancers encounter regularly is struggling to decipher between clients that will stick with you through thick and thin and clients that will run a mile as soon as you so much as utter the word ‘invoice’.
If you’re new to becoming a freelancer it can be a pretty grisly minefield out there, so here are a few tips we’ve found to help when trying to decide which clients are keepers and which most definitely are not.
Create a fool-proof contract
The most important step before approaching any client is to already have a contract written up and ready to go.
While each contract may differ depending on the type of work and how long you’re working for, the bare bones will be the same, so having a template ready and waiting is a must.
In order to create a solid contract that ensures your payment, you’ll have to sift through some nitty gritty legal jargon that isn’t too pretty. But we promise that once you see the light at the end of the tunnel it will all be worth it.
Look for clients in the right places
Shady clients are everywhere. However, there are some places where untrustworthy clients loiter more frequently than others.
You’ll probably be keen to advertise your services just about everywhere, but don’t go looking in the wrong places.
Sites that put clients in touch with freelancers who work for the lowest amount possible can be a good place to look for work when you’re going through a dry spell, but there’s few trustworthy clients who would be worth working for long term to be found here.
Instead, lean towards clients who have found you thanks to your own efforts of marketing, either through social media or advertisements. It’s likely that you’ll have a much more rewarding relationship.
Include a brief when taking on new clients
After you’ve created a contract and found a client that is in it for the long haul, include a brief of the work you’ll be carrying out for them.
Clients vary. Some will email with every qualm they have, from ‘have you remembered to use the 11pt font?’ to ‘what do you think Buzz Aldrin would have done if he wasn’t an astronaut?’. Then there’s the clients who forget they’ve asked for the work and reply to your email three weeks late with an ‘oops I forgot to tell you I don’t need this work doing anymore. Can I get a refund?’
Unfortunately it’s impossible to know what your client will be like, so laying down the ground rules before any work begins is essential.
Keep invoices professional
The important bits.
Invoices are what get you that money for your new lambo’! Or, more likely, the tin of beans that sustains you while you attempt to keep the money lasting you as long as possible.
This is exactly why it needs to be clear, concise and professional. It can be tempting to over-personalise your invoice to make it seem less like you’re asking for money and more like you’re trying to make friends. However, emojis and kisses simply aren’t going to cut it here.
Include a due by date and if you don’t receive payment by then, ALWAYS follow up.
Ask clients to complete feedback surveys
Once you’ve completed work for a client where everything went seemingly well (on your end at least) ask them to complete a feedback survey, and explain your reasons for doing so.
If you make it obvious at this point that you value their opinion and want to make a change based on it, they’ll be likely to come back to you for future work, and to refer their friends.
Act on it!
Your clients didn’t just fill out that feedback form for fun, they expect you to do something with it.
Thank your clients for filling in the questionnaires and explain to them the actions you’ll take to continue keeping up a good relationship, as well as describing the areas you’ve found you need to improve, and how you intend to do so.
Your clients will appreciate you honesty, and will be likely to communicate any future problems with your services so they can be solved, rather than hopping off to the services of another freelancer.
What are your techniques for finding trustworthy clients? Leave your experiences and comments in the section below!