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In freelancing and business there are things you should share with your client and things you should keep for yourself and your friends. Don’t get me wrong. You should not lie to your clients. I just want you to think about what you share with whom. In the end, you don’t want to scare your client or make him angry. Your relationship should be kept on professional level. So, what are the things your client don’t have to know about?
Responsive communication with your client
Before going any deeper into the subject of what you should never tell to your client, let’s discuss how the communication with client should look like. There are many ways you can manage your relationship with client, but certain things should be included in all cases. Three of the most important factors for establishing responsive communication are transparency, punctuality and regular meetings and reviews.
Let’s start with transparency. Relationship with your client should be based on complete transparency. Meaning, when you will face some problem and it will affect the project, your client should at least know about it. It does not matter if it the problem is personal, technology or business related. We all know that, sometimes, shit happens and we have to deal with it. Unless the problem will threaten the project, your client will understand it. Little delay is acceptable until the quality is kept high. In the worst case, you can offer a discount.
Second thing to keep in check is punctuality. When you set a deadline, make sure to meet it, or even better, finish the task sooner. Just this habit of meeting the deadlines alone can do miracles to relationship between you and your client. The reason is that clients often have to deal with people who take deadlines as relative type of information or don’t care about it at all. So, setting and meeting the deadlines on a regular basis will get you on the top. In other words, your client will love you.
The last factor is keeping regular meetings and reviews. Many freelancers think that after getting started on a project they don’t have to get in touch with the client until the job is done. Big mistake. If you are living in this illusion that you will communicate with your client only in the beginning and then in the end, don’t expect recommendations or another project from the client. Establishing long-lasting relationship will require you being available at least once a week. That is the lowest minimum.
What is an optimum? You have to set a meeting schedule or calendar with your client upfront before doing any work. Lay down what days in a week and hours will you be available to talk and how your client can contact you. This will make the communication easier and help you avoid uncomfortable situations. Next thing is to set dates, or milestones, for revisions and to keep client informed about the progress. The longer the project will take, the more of these milestones you should implement. Plus anytime shit hit the fan.
Don’t tell this to your client
Now, you know the three most important factors for building a great relationship with your client. Let’s switch the gears. What are the things you should keep for yourself? Above, we discussed the value of transparency and how important it is. However, certain things should not leave your head, mailbox or notebook. Those things will only scare your client and make him reconsider his decision of hiring you. Nobody has to know about them.
1. You are my first client
You started with freelancing or a business and just got your first client. Congrats to that. You are already ahead of many people. In this situation, it is easy to let yourself be carried away by emotions. Don’t get me wrong. You should definitely share news and successes such as these, just make sure to share them with right people. Keep in mind what the client’s reason for hiring you was. They hired you as a professional to get certain job done. The last thing most of them would wanted to hear is that you have no or small prior experiences.
Remember that you are an investment for your client. They expect the money they paid you to return in the form of profit, higher conversions, lower bounce rate and so on. I have never met any client who would want to be a test dummy for beginners. What every client wants to is to work with seasoned professional. Keep it that way. Share your happiness with your friends, family and classmates. After that, sign a contract with the client, get upfront payment, do your job and get the rest of money.
2. I’ve never done this before
Many of us got through this. You take some project even though you have not all the skills you need to get it done. I went through this many time and consider it as one of the best ways to learn new skills and practice them. Is it scary? You, but think about it. You went to school for many years and this was part of the deal. What’s more you were either doing it for free or paying a tuition. Now, you have a chance to learn something and got paid for it.
So, have courage to do that step into the unknown and learn on the fly. However, don’t tell your client how the things really are. Remember, he hired skilled professional. Telling the client you have no clue what is he talking about and how to get it done is not the best way to start your relationship. Just make sure you will do everything it takes to finish the work.
3. I have no idea how long it will take
Setting a time frame for project is something we all have to learn to do. Sometimes, the client will come with specific deadline. However, most of the time this will be left to you to figure it out. Take your time, consider all the parts of the project, think about what can go wrong and add some space. Good rule of thumb is to be pessimist and set the time frame wider, just for case. Remember to never start the work before having clear time frame.
4. I don’t know how much it will cost
Another tough aspect after setting a time frame is putting a price tag on your work. Finding the balance between over and underpricing yourself can take some time. One good way to find out how much should you charge is to look for average rates related to your work and skills as a starting point. Next, use trial and error to adjust the price according to responses you will get. Meaning, try to increase the price over the average.
Notice I said increase the price, not decrease. Decreasing the price below the average would only mean to undervalue yourself and your skills. Never do that. Also, it is much harder to negotiate the price up than down. If client has doubts and the situation does not look good for signing the contract, you have three options. First, justify the price is reasonable by proving your skills. Second, leave the table. Third, negotiate.
The best is to choose the first option. Show your client the price is based on solid skills and experiences. Have courage to fight for yourself. Second option is also pretty good for showing that you are not beginner and know your price. Sometimes, just being willing to leave the table can mean getting the job. Negotiation should be left as the last frontier or a backup plan. Fight as you can and if nothing else works, then negotiate.
5. I can do that for free
I will keep this short … You are a businessman or freelancer, not a volunteer. Unless you are a nonprofit organization you should never work for free (or should you?). If your client want you to do additional work, charge it that way. Create new task, milestone or a new project. It is your time you are spending and it should be rewarded accordingly.
6. I am full-stack front-end dev op
First, nobody cares about what titles do you use to describe yourself and your job, except you. Second, most of the clients are not familiar with the industry you at and have no idea what most of those titles mean. Meaning, keep the jargon for your colleagues and use plain English, or whatever your language is, for talking with clients. Your client should not need a vocabulary or google every term to understand what the conversation is about.
What’s more, the easier it will be to communicate with you, the higher your chances for recommendations and more work in the future will be. So, keep the communication simple, straightforward and easy to understand.
7. I found those images on Google
The last thing I want to discuss is to pay attention to what assets do you want to use. Meaning, picture found on Google does not equals picture free to use, unless you used advanced search settings. So, when you need or want to use any asset that is not available for commercial use, or it is questionable, either pay for it, contact the author or don’t use it at all. However, before buying any additional assets, make sure to discuss it with client.
Your client should know about every additional expense you will make and should provide a budget for it as well. Never pay for those things from the money you charged for the project. This is something that should be clearly stated in the contract between you and the client and both sides should agree with it. Money you charge are for your time and work.
Closing thoughts on what you should never tell your client
In the end, make sure to keep the relationship with your client in the best shape by being transparent, punctual and in touch. Those are the most important things for building long-lasting relationship you need to remember. Next, make sure you can deliver on your promises, set proper deadlines and milestones, price accordingly to your skills and keep the communication simple and understandable.
What are some other things you think are better to keep for yourself?
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