What Can Your Clients Reasonably Expect From You?

hands-client-expectationsIf you get a freelancing gig, how much should the client expect from you?

Does hiring you give a company the right to automatically expect that you:

  • Are only working on their project
  • Will be available during certain hours of the day or night
  • Will give the client free advice for other projects
  • Should provide an unlimited number of revisions
  • Can meet with them face-to-face
  • Can work at their office or other specified location
  • Will accept projects with extremely short deadlines
  • Will use only certain tools or methods

In this post, we’ll address the controversial topic of what a client should expect once he or she has hired a freelancer. We’ll also examine some of the legal issues that pertain to client/freelancer relationships.

What Some Clients Expect of Freelancers

Of course, a client’s expectations should be largely driven by his or her agreement with the freelancer. The answers to the questions above depend upon what the client and the freelance agreed upon. Some clients, though, have expectations that were never a part of any agreement.

Recently, I overhead a business owner complaining because he couldn’t reach a freelancer that he had hired by telephone. The business owner had to wait over an hour before “his” freelancer returned a call and the client was outraged.

The business owner’s complaint was a bit of a revelation to me. Of course, I’ve always known that some clients are more reasonable to work with than others, but it seemed to me that this particular business owner wanted his freelancer to behave more as an employee than a freelancer.

Don’t get me wrong. There are certain things that I think that all clients have a right to expect when they hire a freelancer.

What Every Client Should Expect

Every client should expect to receive — A quality product or service on or before their stated deadline that meets their stated need.

This expectation is a cardinal rule of doing business well as a freelancer. We shouldn’t even have to mention this expectation here, except for the fact that once in a while this expectation isn’t met.

Occasionally, a freelancer delivers poor quality, or they miss a deadline, or their work misses the mark.

When client needs aren’t met it can make it tough for the rest of us freelancers. That’s because now a client’s expectations have changed.

That client may hesitate to hire a freelancer the next time they have a project, or they may feel more of a need to direct the freelancer’s work (even to the point of wanting to be able to reach the freelancer by phone on short notice).

One way to get around the problem of failed expectation is through negotiations.

Negotiating is Key

Good negotiations help set expectations for both the client and the freelancer. Negotiations are so important, in fact, that we’ve devoted an entire post to the topic of negotiations.

All of the issues mentioned in the opening of this article should be covered in a thorough negotiating session with the client. In fact, the freelancer and client should sign a contract, or at least have a binding agreement between.

Both freelancers and their clients should be aware that there could be tax problems if a client exercises too much control over a freelancer in the U.S.

What the IRS Says

Most freelancers are considered to be independent contractors for tax purposes. The IRS has guidelines that govern whether a worker is considered an independent contractor or an employee.

One of the criteria for distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor is the amount of behavioral control that a business has over a worker.

It’s important to understand the distinction because a business that hires an employee and then misclassifies them as an independent contractor may wind up paying a lot of back taxes and penalties.

What Do You Think?

We’ve identified an expectation that every freelancer should meet. We’ve also discussed some of the legal implications of hiring a freelancer. Now it’s your turn to express your opinion.

Do you hire freelancers?

If so, we’d love it if you’d share your expectations in the comments.

Are you a freelancer?

Why not share your thoughts on this topic? What should a client expect when they hire you?

Image by komponisto