Good business relationships are the foundation of freelance business success.
As a freelancer, you can often find yourself working directly with the business owner or top decision-makers, so it’s important you know how to nurture these relationships and make them a win-win for both parties.
But whether you work with a team or an individual, it’s essential things go as smoothly as possible and you foster good client relationships, especially if you want return or long-term clients.
Here are 4 tips to help boost your freelancer-client relationships.
Underpromise and overdeliver
Underpromising and overdelivering means that you always add more value and go the extra mile.
You don’t necessarily need to go overboard, either.
You might add an extra deliverable to a project as a bonus or complete a project quicker than you said you would. Things like this can be the icing on the cake and can go a long way to cementing win-win prosperous client relationships.
However, this works as long as you are overdelivering on something the client wants or needs or will be valuable to them somehow.
You don’t want to inadvertently give your client more hassle or work.
For example, not sticking to a project’s timeframe might mean that other project variables being worked on by others need to be completed quicker – thus adding unnecessary friction and avoidable complications to the project.
Do what you say you’ll do
This sounds obvious, but unreliability or project delays and overruns are some of the things that can give freelancers a bad name. Especially creative freelancers who may be brilliant at their specific craft but lack experience working in a corporate environment, so they are not used to deadlines or as strong as they might be with their business communication skills.
For projects that start going downhill, clients don’t want to hear excuses, and if there is a valid reason why you can’t deliver – don’t bring problems; bring solutions. Is there another freelancer you can bring in to help complete the project on time, or can you add extra value in return for a later project completion date?
Being a reliable, safe pair of hands who delivers on time is freelance golddust to clients.
Be that freelancer!
Have boundaries and stick to them
It may be tempting to be available to clients 24/7, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, to be at their beck and call in an attempt to prove how helpful you are and build a strong relationship. But unless you set healthy and reasonable boundaries, it will sap your energy, your work will suffer – not to mention your personal life – and you will most likely come to resent it (and your client) for unwelcome intrusions.
Clients are not your besties or your family (unless they actually are!), so always try to maintain a professional relationship.
This doesn’t mean you cannot socialize with them and network. Just ensure that the client is aware of when they can contact you by what means, and the manner in which they address you (and vice versa).
Boundaries set and address how you expect to be treated, so get it right at the start so you can continue a harmonious business relationship where everyone knows where they stand.
And it works both ways. You should also be respectful of your client’s time and boundaries.
Know what needs to be done and when
As a freelancer, you don’t need to know everything there is to know – and it’s not expected, either.
But if you are offering a service, you do have to deliver on it. And you need to have all the paperwork and procedures in place too.
That’s why you should consider outsourcing the essential things that need to get done that take you time or you are not an expert at – such as accounting or invoicing clients so you can get paid.
Invoice Ninja is a leading free invoicing software for small business invoicing, online payments, tracking expenses and billable tasks. It also includes attractive, professional invoice template designs you can customize with your logo and brand colors.
Professional templates ensure you don’t miss anything off your invoice that should be there (and can stop you from getting paid on time!). They are also a great way to signal professionalism, make it simple for your client to pay you, and build trust.
In short, there’s no secret to cracking the freelance-client relationship code. At the end of the day, it’s about providing value, nurturing business relationships, showing courtesy and applying good old-fashioned common sense.