First of all, congratulations. Getting your first client is a great achievement, and probably one of the toughest hurdles to overcome as a freelance writer. So once again, congratulations for overcoming this hurdle. However, there is an essential element of running a business that most budding freelancers don’t think about, which is client management. Get this right, and you’ll have a long and prosperous freelance business. Get this wrong, and well, you won’t.
Here are five things to think about when you get your first client
1.Lock it down with a contract
If it’s not in a contract it didn’t happen. So before you start celebrating your first client with a Flashdance-style ‘dance’, lock.it.down. And if you’re wondering where to get a copywriting contract from, our Business Success Collection templates can help.
2. Have clear milestones for each stage of the project
Trust me; this is for your own good – and your client’s. Milestones are great key performance indicators. They keep you accountable and at the same time, provide assurance to your client that your project is indeed moving along at the right pace.
And yes, you need to lock down those milestones in your contract as well.
3. Establish a payment timeline
Do not start working on your project before getting a deposit. Seriously, don’t. A deposit is a sign that your prospect is committed to your project. And should things go south with the project, as they sometimes do, it will also act as your insurance policy.
However much you want your deposit to be is up to you (30-50% of your full fee is the norm).
4. Limit your revisions to three, max
Here’s the thing: if you don’t limit your revisions, you will never get sign off on your project. Your client will keep on asking for more tweaks and rewrites, and you will spend your time working on a project that will never end. Time that you should be spending on getting your second and other clients.
Initiate a two-revision policy, and if more revisions are required, make it clear in your contract that it’s subject to a fee.
5. Establish clear lines of communication
You’ve heard of the adage, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’
Well, the same thing applies to client management. Make sure you establish and set:
- your contact person on the client’s side: this is your project manager and go-to person for everything to do with the project.
- preferred communication channels: emails or telephone
- weekly project update meetings: time and date
- your response time to client enquiries (at the very least, acknowledge every enquiry, even if you can’t provide an answer right there and then)
6. Have a process for everything, most especially, for grievances
Processes and systems are not sexy, but they work. I would even go as far as to say that they are the key to having a successful business. Without the right systems in place to protect yourself and your client, you’re running a high-risk hobby with potentially costly consequences, not a business.
Also published on Medium.