Good communication is easy for some and really needs to be actively worked on by others.
This is a hugely overlooked part of sucessful freelancing. It’s not something you would normally put effort into or think of fine tunning.
Communication is so key for freelance workers because of the way you are interacting with your prospective clients. Most freelancers are in contact with clients by email, only sometimes phone, and very rarely meet in person.
You may be a charming and professional young gogetter face to face but what about through email?
There are so many things that clients can instantly discover about you with just one glance if you were to meet them to discuss their project. Because you don’t have this luxury most of the time when you’re approaching clients online you really need to focus on what you’re protraying about yourself in any contact you have.
It’s helpful to think of some key points that you can focus on.
I would say the first thing is Professionalism.
You want the client to know you are serious about the freelance job and you will apply professionalism to all aspects throughout the project.
Showing professionalism early on will instill trust. You’re letting them know that all things down the road will be handled appropriately.
You are not some kid saying saying to your buddy ”Yeah I can do this for you.”
Next would be Research.
You should always try to get as clear an idea of the project and the client’s overall goals before you contact them about the job.
In your initial communication you must let them know that you’ve invested time before contact them and understand what their goals are.
If you are responding to a posting on a job boad or freelance site a good way to do this is mention their own words when explaining that you can do the job.
Never, ever post something like “I can do this for you.” This is the worst way possible to contact someone about a freelance job.
A much better example is something like this..
“I have thoroughly read your requirements, viewed the example sites (google.com, yahoo.com) you’ve given and understand exactly what it is you need done. The image issue you mentioned will not be a problem. I have a good solution for this. I look forward to working with you on this. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like any info about me or have any other questions. Best Regards, John.”
The two points above would in most cases be enough to get you the job.
After you’ve sucessfully sold yourself to the client you will still need to concentrate on good communication. Don’t let it slide at this point just because the client has commited to you.
The next step will get more into the full details of the job.
This requires some good listening skills and the ability to relay the information and updates back to your client in a manner they can easily understand.
You don’t want to have the client repeating themselves strugling to explain something to you or viceversa.
If you must ask them to more clearly explain something make sure you’ve really tried to understand what they’re talking about before you quickly ask them another question about it.
Try to limit the back and forth as much as possible. Alot of questions you can likely answer yourself with a little more effort.
Updates are good to do regualarly and let the client know where you’re at in the project. Even if you’re behind they would rather get the update that you’re behind than not hear anything from you until you’re further along.
There is such a thing as too many updates but this is not something you really need to worry about. Too many in this case is better than not enough.
Communication alone can get you repeat business from clients. Even if some of the actual work you provided could have been better you are way more likely to get someone to work with you again because of good communication rather than raw skills.