Communicating with Clients Effectively
You know, the key to any successful freelance project isn’t the quality of your work, it’s how well you communicate with your client. Don’t believe me?
Communication Is Key
Think about it like this: You’ve just written an “about” page for a client. The work draws on all your skills, expertise, and knowledge. But you show it to the client … and they hate it. Even worse, they say it isn’t even close to what they wanted, it needs a complete overhaul, and they want to have a call in three minutes to discuss the problem.
What happened? Communication fell short.
Regardless of how amazing your work might be, unless you can communicate effectively with your clients, understand their needs, and express why your work will help accomplish their goals, you’ll end up transforming that amazing work into something awful—or worse, making misguided changes that go against your expertise and best practices.
Now that we’ve established why communication is basically the most important thing ever, what can you do to make sure it’s effective?
How to Better Communicate with Clients
Here are the key recommendations that you have to apply regardless of the type of work you do:
• Set weekly check-ins. If your project will take longer than a week, check in at least once a week until it’s done. Use each check-in to establish where things are at, what’s finished, what’s still outstanding, and what’s required of the client right now or in the following week.
• Stick to the scope. If a task is not listed in the project deliverables, then it’s not a task/deliverable you should do for free. Be nice but firm if a client asks for something outside of the project scope. Whether it’s because a client doesn’t know any better or they’re just trying to score some extra value, it’s up to you to set them straight.
• Set boundaries. If the project requires instant communication or quick decision-making, let the client know when you’re typically available and when you’re not working. For example, maybe that’s 10 am to 5 pm PST, Monday through Thursday. If people email or contact you outside of that timeframe, you’ve already established that you’re not available. If you answer emails or calls at 4 am, you’re demonstrating that you don’t respect your own boundaries, so they don’t need to respect them either.
• Listen. What’s the most effective way to meet and exceed client expectations? Listen closely. You also need to listen to what’s happening under the surface, because they might not have the language to precisely describe their needs.
Too many talented freelancers fall short in their client interactions. They pay too close attention to their creative skills at the expense of communication, which ends up ruining what could be an amazing project. Unless you can understand your client’s needs and explain what you’re doing to help them, you’ll end up biting your nails down to the cuticle.
In the next lesson, we’ll go over a few productivity tips to ensure that you’re working efficiently and making the most of your time.
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