How to have better communication with your freelance clients
Client communication is everything. From the words in your emails to your tone of voice and body language, it determines your ability to build trust, show high value, and ultimately grow your business.
Even if you’re a master of your craft, you need communication to establish rapport and build lasting relationships. A few small tweaks can go a long way.
Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, is here to help you break free. Whether you’re looking for work, thinking about starting a side gig, or ready to wave goodbye to your corporate boss, we’re here with tips to support your success. We know that starting on your own can be exciting but also nerve-wracking and downright daunting.
Freelancing has become the norm. In just the US, Freelancers earned almost $1 trillion in 2019. Freelancers could represent 80% of the workforce by 2030. You’re not alone
We’re going to show you why communication matters, common mistakes freelancers make, and some highly effective strategies you can start using today. Let’s dive in:
Why excellent communication is essential for freelancers
Like a meal with beautiful presentation can improve the food’s taste, excellent communication influences how clients perceive your work. Also, when you communicate well, you will:
- Make fewer mistakes. Minimize unnecessary back-and-forths and set more explicit expectations from the start. Remember to speak up and ask questions.
- Establish trust and demonstrate value. Brand yourself as a professional team player. Establish yourself as a friendly expert that gets the job done right on time.
- Stand out. Freelancing may seem competitive – but top freelancers rarely have a shortage of work. With a clear communication strategy, you can avoid the boom and bust cycles that many freelancers face. Write better emails, and confirm details. Have a system and process (we’ll show you how below).
Common freelancer pitfalls to watch out for
While mistakes can be great ways to learn, they’re rarely fun. When it comes to communication, here are the 3 most important things to avoid:
1. Under-communicating. For example, your client messages you because they haven’t heard from you and are worried you won’t deliver on time. Or, your client gives you instructions. Although you have a couple of doubts, you think you understand and push ahead. You submit the work – and your client is disappointed.
Avoid these situations by always setting specific dates to meet, follow up, and deliver work. When appropriate, update your clients on how your work is progressing. If doubts or questions arise, ask.
2. Misunderstanding client preferences. Ask your clients how they prefer to communicate. Make your questions and responses concise (bullet points are your friend).
3. Being unresponsive. Responding promptly is essential. Build trust by following up when you say you will and delivering your work on time. Say precisely when you’ll follow up, and note in your calendar so that you don’t forget.
6 Strategies for better communication with clients
Get more repeat business, referrals, and have more financial security. Here’s how:
1. Learn how to write better job proposals
As a freelancer, chances are that you’ll have to reach out to prospective clients. Knowing how to write a persuasive proposal is essential to winning new work. Talk about your experience, show positive feedback from other clients, and concisely express how you can solve your customer’s problem.
2. Establish the scope of work and set clear expectations
Create a questionnaire that you share with all your new clients. Establish the exact scope of work, cost, timeline, and delivery dates. Discuss the details and make sure both of you agree. Remember always to set up specific times to check-in and follow up.
Take your time with this step. The more detailed and upfront you are, the more likely you are to satisfy your customers.
3. Update your clients regularly
Keep clients in the know. Keeping them in the loop on how the project is progressing can help build trust. It can be a good idea for longer projects to check-in, go over your latest work, and incorporate their feedback before making the final delivery.
4. Get feedback
Feedback is fundamental to your success. Take the opportunity to collect as much as possible. You can use tools like SurveyMonkey to send to your clients after you finish work. Or, if you’re an Invoice2go subscriber, you can now request reviews after your customer pays their invoice.
Regular feedback is a gift that allows you to improve continually. Also, displaying positive reviews on your profile or website is an excellent way to bring in new work.
5. Set boundaries
Sometimes you and a client may disagree, or they may change your mind last minute. If a conflict arises, be firm but gentle. Go back to your scope of work or provide facts and figures to express your point of view. Avoid any anger or blame.
Seek to see disagreements in a positive light. They can prove to your client that you genuinely care about seeing them succeed and that you are an expert.
6. Add a personal touch
A small gesture can go a long way in business. Whether you’re thanking a client or sending them an email with an article that you find helpful to them, never underestimate the power of a personalized message in a working relationship.
The key here is to be thoughtful (no generic notes and one-sentence emails!). Show that you’re actively listening to what they want and that you appreciate the fact that you get to help them achieve it.
More strategies to enhance your client communication
Know where you need to be, but don’t know how to get there? If communication isn’t your strong suit, it’s not the end of your freelancing career. Consider these tips to improve the way you communicate:
- Use templates to save time. Re-use portions of your proposals and onboarding messaging for future conversations. Keep a document with successful responses, phrases, and formats.
- Show your understanding of your customer by reflecting and summarizing what they say. Whether it’s in email or on the phone, summarize back to them what they’ve said to ensure you’re both 100% on the same page.
- Ensure your messaging is clear, concise, and error-free. Run your writing through a tool like Grammarly before sending anything out.
- Read more about negotiation, persuasion, and emotional intelligence.
- Establish systems for how you communicate with a customer throughout the job. Fine-tune the system over time.
Top technology to ensure you communicate like a boss
There are phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, project management tools, video calls, and apps all offer unique communication modes. The trick is finding the mix that works best for your business and your client.
Here are a few useful tech tools to help you before, during, and after working with a client:
Before: Video Calls
With remote work now the norm, Zoom has become indispensable. Whenever possible, shoot to have video calls with your clients. Create clarity talking ‘face-to-face’ and by sharing your screen during meetings. Record calls to reference later the session to document your conversation, brainstorm with their on-screen whiteboard, and host a meeting with multiple video call participants.
During: Project Management Tools
Tools like Slack, Trello, ClickUp, and Monday are all excellent resources. While each has different slightly different features and functionality. Still, they can help you stay organized, especially when you’re managing multiple projects.
After: Invoicing App
We all need to get paid, right? While there are many helpful tools out there, Invoice2go’s software can help you get paid faster, track time, and stay organized. Streamline your processes, go paperless, and give your clients plenty of payment options.
Whether you’re starting up a side-gig or taking the plunge into full-time freelance, being self-employed can be a daunting lifestyle change. Still, you’ve got this. While new habits may take some time to take root, once you’ve established them, you’re set for greater success over the long term.
Let’s break free. Join Creative Collective for more content to help you learn and grow as a freelancer. Get paid what you deserve, manage your time better, and ultimately grow your business.