I’m a freelance, sole trading, self-employed solopreneur. I work in my kitchen, live in my tracksuit bottoms, and shower at lunchtime. So it’s official.
But I have had ‘proper jobs’. Most recently, I was brand and editorial manager for a big charity, poised at the flipside of the freelancer/client ping pong table.
It taught me a lot about what to do (and what not to do) as a freelancer.
Here are my five insider tips to stay on the right side of your clients:
- Say hello. Good suppliers are hard to find. An introductory email with a link to your website is welcomed. It may be filed in a folder called ‘People who bother me for work’, and you may not hear back for a while, but when they need extra support it’ll be the first place they look. Trust me.
- Don’t be desperate. Having a supplier continually bother you for work is really annoying and will not have the desired effect. It also suggests you’re sat at home twiddling your thumbs which doesn’t shout ‘high quality, in-demand supplier’.
- Be honest. If you don’t have capacity to take something on, say so. Don’t sign up to a deadline you know you can’t meet and leave the client hanging. It’s much better to say you don’t have time for the project (which has the added benefit of showing them you’re busy) and even more helpful to recommend another freelancer. The client and the referred freelancer will both think you’re extra nice and super helpful.
- Don’t be greedy. Be confident in your abilities and quote fairly for the project. Clients (the ones you want to work with anyway) will have budget to get the job done. But they’ll know if you’re taking advantage. If a project ends up taking less time than you initially quoted for, reduce your invoice appropriately. The client will appreciate it and be more likely to work with you again.
- Invoice promptly and accurately. Make sure you include all the necessary information. There’s nothing more annoying than regularly having to chase Finance for the status of a supplier’s unpaid invoice, and finding out they marked it FAO the wrong person, left off the budget code and didn’t include a description of the project. And waited until the last week of the financial year to submit it.
Bonus tip: Say thank you. And send chocolates at Christmas. Clients DO notice.