Understanding what your client wants is absolutely crucial as a freelancer. Bad communication can threaten your livelihood as a freelancer, putting you at risk of not only not getting clients, but of developing a bad reputation on sites like Upwork or Freelancer, which means you’ll hardly stand to make it as a freelancer.
You need to effectively hone your communication skills by developing a standard way of talking to clients and asking them questions before you even start. It’ll save you lots of time (and since time is money, it’ll save you money, too!) in regards to completing a project, and it’ll ensure that you deliver a quality product without having to visit the drawing board over and over again.
۱: What is the timeline for the project?
This is an easy one. Know how long the client expects you to take so you can then cut the project up into smaller pieces and help you stay on task.
Additionally, if you find out upfront that the client’s expectations are unrealistic, you can communicate that with them and find a timeline that works for the both of you. Don’t let a client try and get you to develop a website in two days if you don’t think you can handle it.
۲: Who is your intended audience?
Get them to establish the end users that will be utilizing the product you develop. It can be risky to jump into a project without fully understanding who it’s for.
You’ll be able to research specific demographics and see what works best and what attracts them the most if you know who you’re targeting.
۳: What is your personal or corporate brand?
Determine their vision, mission, desired tone and mood in regards to verbiage and intent, brand, and the overall image they want to communicate through their end product.
۴: What are your intended goals from the project deliverable?
Do they expect to gain more visitors to their site? Do they just want to have a visually impressive eCommerce site or app? Do they want copy that’s going to sell a product? Encourage site visitors to donate to a foundation?
Know upfront what their goals are.
۵: What are some additional concerns, requirements, or comments they want you to be aware of?
Give the client the chance to ask a few things that you didn’t offer up the answer to already. This lets them feel like you value their feedback, and lets you hear things you didn’t even know you needed to know.
۶: Do you have any further clarification on…?
Ask for further clarification on anything they may have left to the imagination. This is especially crucial if their job description hasn’t fully explained what their project is or what they need from you.
۷: Would you like to have a phone call or Skype session?
Asking this upfront will let the client know that your communication channels are wide open, and they’ll feel more comfortable knowing they can reach you through an alternate medium should explaining things through text prove to be difficult for them.
Let them know about the business overhead and any additional research. Don’t forget that sometimes projects require a lot more than clients realize, and helping them to understand the full extent of their project is going to make them trust you a lot more, have faith you can deliver a quality product, and know more about your process.
Also, attempt to standardize your methods of communication. It’s helpful if you can utilize Google Forms to create a standard form with the questions listed above that you can send to every client. It communicates professionalism and shows that you know what you’re doing.
Don’t let bad communication be your downfall. You might be afraid of a phone call, or you might be afraid to let a client know that you need an extension, but clients want more than anything an open and consistent form of discussion so they feel like they’re able to be more involved in the process.
Don’t make the mistake of not speaking with a client at all during the building process and then follow-up with an MVP and find out they don’t like at all what you’ve created.
Communication can make or break you, so make it work for you.