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When you’re a freelancer, your clients are one of the most important things in the world. You want to make them happy so that they’ll give you repeat business, excellent testimonials and refer you to even more clients. One of the most important ways you can achieve all of that is by having effective communication skills.
When you know how to communicate well with your clients, you’ll stand out from freelancers who don’t know how. You will be ahead of the game in terms of getting and keeping clients. Communicating effectively with people can help you earn an excellent reputation as well as an excellent income.
Read these 12 communication tips and you’ll be able to communicate a lot better with your freelance clients.
12 Tips to Communicate Effectively with Your Freelance Clients
1. Polish your online presence – You may not think of it like this, but you’re communicating with potential and current freelance clients through your online presence. Make sure your freelance blog is well written and free of typos as well as grammatical errors. The same for your freelance platform bios and the About section of any professional social media profiles.
If you’re wanting to attract international clients, you’ll probably be using the English language. If this is not your native language and your fluency is not very high, have someone with fluent written English write or edit what you’ve written. The quality of writing that potential clients see may play a role in how seriously they’ll take you and how likely they are to trust your work.
2. Stay on the platform – When you meet a client on a major freelance platform like Upwork or any of the many other freelancer platforms out there, stay on that platform if you can, for all of your communications until you finish the project. Don’t suggest that you meet on Skype or correspond via email. Your client may want the safety net of the platform as they learn to trust you, and asking them to communicate elsewhere might make them squeamish.
Do an amazing job with the project for which they hired you, and your client may just come back to you directly for more work later.
3. Be realistic – Is this new project something you’re familiar with? Do you know how to handle it? If not, can you quickly learn?
Whether you’re just starting out as a freelancer or you’ve been freelancing for your entire career, make sure before you tell a potential client that you’ll take on their project to be honest with yourself about whether you can do it and do it well.
4. Think ahead – You’ve just found a gig that you know is likely to take a lot of time and effort, but that’s okay because it’s lucrative.
Before you say yes to it, though, look at your calendar and think ahead. Will your current workload allow you to do a good job on your new project? Is your calendar free of any major personal events that could cause a delay? Make sure you can realistically finish this new project by your client’s deadline without causing yourself a problem, then say yes.
5. Speak and listen carefully – When speaking with a client, choose your words carefully. Try not to leave room for misunderstanding.
Also listen carefully when your client speaks. If you’re not sure of something they say, ask them to clarify. Tell them you want to be perfectly clear with everything.
If you and your client don’t speak the same native language, make an extra effort to ensure you are understanding each other. Then follow up any verbal communication with written communication to make sure you’re both definitely on the same wavelength.
6. Write clearly – When communicating with people in writing, words are everything. If you’re not on the phone or on video, they can’t see your face or your body language nor hear the tone in your voice. Any time you write to your client, be as clear as possible. If you’re following up in writing after a verbal conversation, write for your client what it is that you agreed to while you were talking.
Then they can let you know if they had the same or a different understanding of the conversation. Writing clearly can clear things up.
Make an effort to keep client communications primarily in writing. This will give you a paper trail to go back to in the future if necessary.
7. Read everything thoroughly – When your client messages or emails you, read everything they say. If you’re not a native speaker of the language, read it again to make sure you’ve got it. Even before landing a new project, careful reading is important. When you first learn of a gig, ensure you understand what it entails before agreeing to take it. Understanding accurately everything your client writes will help ensure you handle the project the way they’re expecting.
8. Know their time zone – You may have clients from outside your own time zone, maybe many time zones away. If they don’t ask, you don’t have to tell them what time zone you’re in. But do ask them what time zone they’re in. Always keep their time in mind when communicating with them. And when talking about deliveries and deadlines, make sure to specify which time zone you’re talking about.
9. Ask questions – There is nothing wrong with asking questions. It’s actually always far better to ask than to make a mistake. Good questions can help ensure things move along smoothly and you’re able to complete the project successfully.
10. Be thorough – When working on a project, make sure you do everything you agreed with your client that you would do. Leaving something out looks sloppy, careless and lazy. You’re not sloppy, careless or lazy; you’re the best! Show your clients this by being completely thorough.
11. Be immediately responsive – Clients are counting on you to answer their emails, messages and phone calls. Answer them right away when they contact you, even if it’s only to say you’re busy at the moment but will address their concern shortly. This will not only show that you’re professional; it will show that you care about the work you’re doing for them.
12. Meet every deadline – When you have a deadline, you have to meet it. All the time. Period.
Always be mindful of how important each of your communications are with your freelance clients – whether it’s via email, messaging app, text, phone or even in person – and those clients will be likely become repeat clients.
Want more freelancing tips? Enroll in my free 7-lesson mini-course here and find out how you can get on the right path for your freelance career.
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.