A new client: “YAY!”. But before we jump on board and get all excited about the new client we have to land, it doesn’t hurt as a freelancer to ask ourselves: “Is this client right for me?”
I remember when I started out years ago jumping for joy at every new opportunity that came through the door and I did my best to try and land each and every one of them.
But in doing so, all I did was burn myself out, devalue my work, and in the end work with clients who really were not a good fit for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I did work with some amazing clients, but I also got some doozies too that I look back on now and think: “OMG, why did I do that to myself?”
So “how” can you avoid the mistakes that I made?
Let’s look at 5 questions you can ask yourself before taking on that next client:
Do I have the capacity to take on another client?
It is “OK” not to take on a client because we don’t have the capacity to do so. In the long run, it is better for business and ourselves if we don’t.
Capacity can mean a lot of things too: it is not just time and workload. Capacity includes mental space, health, family, and happiness, as well as work and cash flow.
So when looking at the capacity to take on a new client as yourself:
- Will this job make me happy?
- Do I have the time to take it on?
- Am I able to do the job to my best ability?
Do I share the passion and vision the client has for their product?
It is hard to work with clients we are not passionate about. Hey, this is why we became freelancers so that we could work on the projects we wanted to.
So when looking at a new client or project, ask yourself: “Am I excited about this?”
If the answer is “No” then the next question is “Can I be?”
It’s also worth weighing up the effort required to get across a client’s niche. For example is it a subject or field you will consistently struggle to stay abreast of like IT or law? These are great areas if you love a challenge or it’s your natural territory, but if you are too far out of your comfort zone, getting up to speed on their industry can cost you valuable time and ultimately money.
If it is a job that you are going to struggle with, keep the opportunity open for something that will excite you. It is out there, we might just have to look a little harder for it.
Does the client have the budget to do what we need to?
Something I have learnt is that it’s one thing for the client to be able to afford me, but can they afford the work that is going to come with us looking at their PR and Branding?
There is no point working on an amazing campaign or project without having the budget to run it, etc.
And on that note don’t devalue your contribution. Real expertise costs real money.
When you’re building up your initial client list it’s OK to provide cheap rates to get some runs and references on the board. But this is a short-term strategy. Once you’ve proven your worth, good clients will appreciate that your experience and skills command realistic rates. If you are consistently working for a pittance it only builds up resentment and results in a sub-standard job.
All freelancers are not created equal, so establish your area of expertise and have a long-term goal to charge new clients accordingly (not exorbitantly).
What has the client done in the past in this area?
It is important that we take the time to ask the client and do some research on what the client has already done in the area.
We want to see what has worked, what maybe could have been done a little differently, and what is new that we can bring to the table.
Ask your client – they won’t mind, and it will mean you are in an informed position to take them on.
Is my service the right thing for the client, and is it priced accordingly?
Yep…saying “No” to the client because you are not the right thing for them is something we need to do.
Taking on a client before they are ready, or if you don’t have the skill set do what they need, only makes things hard for you and them.
So look at what you need your client to be able to do to help you and vice-versa to see if the fit is right.
The other thing is; often there are things the client needs to do before we can take them on to get the best result for the relationship. So there you have it…5 questions to ask when looking at taking on a new client that should hopefully help you make stronger and healthier relationships for your freelancing career.
Do you have any tips or questions you can add?
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