How to Get Clients to Absolutely Love Your Freelancing Work

Get Clients to Love Your WorkAs freelancers for hire, our clients’ happiness is topmost on our minds. Happy clients mean returning clients. Happy clients mean more referrals. Therefore, happy clients mean more projects with less marketing effort.

Plus, it simply feels good when clients rave about our work. It boosts our confidence. It makes it much easier for us to raise our rates, charge what we’re really worth, and submit proposals to other prospects with faith in oneself.

I’ve certainly had my own share of unhappy clients. Thankfully, they’ve been rare. However, those rare times taught me how to reduce the likelihood that they’ll happen again.

Here are five ways you can make your client fall in love with your work:


1. Understand What Your Clients Really Want

Most of the time, our clients are unhappy because we totally misunderstood what they wanted.

I avoid this problem by having a template questionnaire for every client to fill out for every copywriting project. Their answers help me find out what their goals are, who their target market is, what messages they want to communicate, and how they want to position their product.

2. Ask All the Questions You Need to Ask

Ask all the questions you need to feel absolutely confident you know what your client is asking for. Sometimes my questionnaire isn’t enough to give me a crystal clear picture of what’s inside my client’s head. In that case, I send as many follow-up questions as I need to have answered, so I can be absolutely confident that I’ve nailed the project requirements.

Don’t be timid about asking your client questions. Don’t worry that it’s taking too much time or effort to read your client’s mind. Adequate preparation will help ensure that you’ll eventually do your work much more easily, and the results will be just what your client wanted.

3. Involve Your Client in the Outcome

The problem with freelancing work like writing and design is there are infinite ways to attack each project. And several of those choices could all be right. In the end, you and your client could disagree about which choice was the best.

For this reason, always keep your client aware of critical choices you’re making about the project. For example, when I’m writing a sales page, this means getting my client’s approval for the main hook and theme of the sales page.

I do this before I write a single word of copy. This hook determines how I will open the sales page, how the rest of the copy will develop, and what types of headlines we can use.

If you’re creating a design, give your client a general idea of the visual approach you have in mind. This way, you’ll get valuable feedback and inputs from your client–before you put in many hours of work into the project.

4. Reflect Your Client’s Voice, Not Yours

Study your client’s style, tone, branding and personality, to make sure your final output reflects these. Keep your ego out of it. You have your own style and personality. However, you’re not being paid to showcase it.

I do this by reading my client’s blog and newsletters. If they have videos, I watch them. I closely read their emails to me, to get a sense of how they communicate verbally. I go over their websites. I even start following them on Twitter.

Again, you may balk at the amount of time and effort all this takes. It does entail extra work; however, it will certainly pay off.

5. Give Your Client a Chance to Make Improvements

You will rarely create something your clients love completely at first glance. That’s ok. If you’ve done the previous steps diligently, your client will probably want very minor tweaks.

I allow up to two revisions on anything I write for my clients. Beyond that, I charge extra. I rarely have to revise twice, and I’ve never had to charge a client additional fees for revisions. Again, all the pre-writing preparation helps ensure that few major changes need to be made to make the client happy.

Don’t fall in love with your work. It’s easy for creative professionals to get attached to their work. You may feel that your writing is a part of you. Your design is an extension of yourself. That’s true.

However, you’re writing and designing (or whatever else) for money and not for the sake of art. Therefore, give your clients what they want.

If you disagree with what your client wants, give your expert opinion–but do not insist on it. By now, you know what outcome they want to achieve. Respectfully offer them options you think will best help them achieve their goals.

But, stay DETACHED from your client’s final decision. As far as your advice is concerned, your clients can take it or leave it.

Is the Customer Always Right?

Of course not. Everybody makes mistakes. However, in a freelancer/client relationship, it’s the client who pays. Therefore, the client’s directions should be followed.

In cases where your client wants to do something illegal, immoral or something you would not want to be associated with, return their money and cut off all ties.

It’s useless to try to change their mind and get them to follow you. However, do make sure you’re protected and your name won’t be associated with what they’re about to do.

It helps for freelancers to have personal projects where you make all the decisions. This gives you an outlet for your personality, for your art. Do something purely for your own pleasure and not anybody else’s.

That way, you’ll be in a better position to serve your clients.

Your Tips Please

What are your tips for pleasing your clients? How do you ensure that your outputs will always delight them? Do share by posting a comment below.

Image by erin MC hammer

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Lexi for sound advice on maintaining a healthy and happy relationship with clients! I like to throw in a little something extra to keep my clients happy, and strive to deliver a good with a perceived value that is more than what they pay.

  2. says

    Nice article! But “2. Ask All the Questions You Need to Ask” is too complicated. Before 3 months i had one client who asked me for a online store. I told him a price and he just get of my offer :/ Before one week i met with him (coincidence) and he told me about my price and the story how one of his friends do the job for 4 times less money. I asked him “is the site dynamic or static” and he looks me like an animal. WTF?! I asked him “do u have admin panel” and he looks me @ the same way. If I asked him 200 questions before tell him the price maybe I would take the project. But I didn’t. So, ask what everybody knows twice, and ask stupid question if necessary …

    Sry for my bad English :/

  3. says

    Let me add that customers are not always right… but they deserve to be treated right. This is why going the extra mile always works for me. I think many freelancers make the mistake of imposing what they think will work vs what the client really wants to work. Being honest have worked wonders for me like politely telling your client about what’s wrong with his/her plan and suggesting better solutions to make the business grow. In the end, it’s all about timing and the art of persuasion that wins.

  4. says

    Be available for your clients when you say you will and how you say you will. If your client likes to communicate only via email then respect that. Or if you say you can be reached by phone between 9 am and 7 pm then be available. Nothing is worse than when a client feels like they can’t get a hold of someone who is working on something very important for them.

  5. says

    when I take on a new web design project, I usually request the client to fill in my questionnaire, which is very detailed. Then we have several more rounds of questions in order to get on the same page and clarify any doubts.
    I use TeamBox and Notableapp, to streamline communication, it’s a very important part of my workflow.
    I involve the client from the start, I don’t mind showing wireframes, concepts,… I don’t go away for a week and then show him a finished design.
    If the client has a good idea, I incorporate it in the design, so it will also be his design.
    clients are always happy with that!

  6. says

    Great points! Talent is obviously important, but when it comes down to it, customer service is what keeps clients coming back. Not many clients would work with a freelancer who was an amazing designer but a poor communicator or difficult to work with.

    Your forth step (reflect the client’s voice) is an excellent idea. I always study the client, but this definitely takes it a step further.

    Thanks for the pointers!

  7. says

    Thanks Lexi! I think you summarized it perfectly at the end that the client is not always right but they are paying for it.

    Even though I sometimes do not exactly agree with something a client wants and would do it slightly differently if I were in their position, that is what they want and that is what they are paying for. I try to understand their position and reasoning behind their decision and work to reflect their voice and not mine.

  8. says

    These are all excellent points, especially #4. Remember, that you’re designing for the client so make sure strategy (and their brand) is kept in mind. It’s also important to produce your best work for every client, regardless of whether they’re a small business, mid-sized company, or large corporation. Having high-standards for your work will keep the clients coming back and consistent referrals.

  9. says

    Thanks for the comments everyone! @Web design portfolio – This is where researching a prospect and asking lots of questions about the project helps protect you. Don’t go into an agreement until you’re clear about what your prospect’s business is all about and what your role is going to be. It also helps to have a good contract or terms of agreement… which is a topic for a whole ‘nother blog post!

  10. TLC says

    @web design portfolio: you make a professional statement in a public setting, then follow it up in writing, that you are breaking from the client and the illegal activity. If you have a follow-up meeting, take notes. I had to do this to an employer who asked me to accept a bid illegally. I refused and quit the committee that was doing it, even though I could have lost my job. Not easy, but I was able to live with myself.

  11. says

    Great article Lexi! When I read tip #5, I must say that I’m guilty of this because I consider my work to be valuable, a touch of my self, and therefore tend to feel disappointed whenever a client criticizes my work.

    But you’re right, creative folks should really learn to detach themselves from client work or else they’re not going to have the kind of focus they need to produce work that will make the client happy.

  12. says

    Some very good points made in the article and would help people out that hire freelancers as well. The second point is in my opinion probably the most important. Because there are a lot of people that will not ask questions thinking that they may push their clients away. It just seems to me that it would make the project more difficult if questions are not asked.

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