Truth be told, landing a client for your freelance web dev biz is a lot like getting married. If you do not set expectations right, what could have been a ‘happily ever after’ will turn into a living nightmare you wish you never ran into. Conversely, the client will feel you have swindled them right before their very eyes - seeing your inability to deliver.
Seeking legal remedies when the client relationship goes south is not a good remedy either. For starters, it would take your eyes off income-generating activities – not to mention lose you a client. Secondly, it would only serve to destroy your rising reputation (whatever’s left of it) – something you would have saved had you had the foresight of setting the bar right from the onset.
Luckily, managing client relationships is a skill that you can master over time. Lest you forget, it takes time to build unshakeable bonds. To avoid costly blunders, below are 5 tried-and-tested guidelines for you and your freelance web dev biz to live by. Applying them, along with the wisdom of the best minds in the industry, should lay the foundation of awesome client relationships that last a lifetime and beyond.
1. Underpromise, Overdeliver
You’re setting yourself up for a major let-down the moment you promise heaven and earth just to lure prospective clients into your freelance web dev business. It’s understandable you’re warding off the competition who could be pounding on your heels. But overpromising is bad business, plain and simple. Not only do you appear desperate, you’re programming yourself to a burn-out - satisfying a client on a deal that’s short of profit.
Overall, you lose.
Instead, for awesome client relationships, under-promise and over-deliver. You might wonder how are you going to land clients if you do so. Your program of works, your custom website portfolio for instance, should speak volume on your pixel-churning capacity.
Then again, you should do your homework. Take a hard look in what your core competencies are – where you’re good at and where you could be found wanting. And how it all stacks up against the competition.
Be wary though. Even the best ‘unicorns’ in the industry could fail to get the nod of a client if they are not professional enough.
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2. Define boundaries clearly right from the get-go.
A relationship without boundaries is a beacon of constant bickering and untold frictions; a nosy neighbor at home is one classic example. Unfortunately, it’s in this expectation department where many young and aspiring freelancers flounder - finding out too late in the cycle they’ve failed to take care of business.
To start right, deliverables should be clear-cut in every aspect of your web design project. Same goes true for communication engagements. Failure to do so early on means you are setting yourself up for area of contentions which could cost you the project eventually.
Making sure your client knows your deadlines for every task is a wise decision. It sets you up for a smoother ride free of someone breathing heavily upon your shoulder.
Note that prospects - since time immemorial - always are inclined to haggle over price. Give website design options and specify what’s included in each to ward off grey areas as much as possible. Even when the project price is set, blurry project details can spell disaster for you down the road if you don’t take it up early on.
For instance, your client may assume hosting and stock imagery is included in the price. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you make this clear from the very beginning.
On the same token, make sure your client is aware you don’t work on weekends if you don’t want to be disturbed during that time. You owe it to yourself to be crystal-clear right from the start.
On a brighter note, when your freelance have been badgered by scope creep, you may want to ease your burden with Creative Snap. This way, you get to incorporate project scope and limitations seamlessly into your system – amongst other offerings.
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3. Put the essentials in writing.
Simply put, if you accept a web dev project without getting the details on paper, you are asking for trouble. You might think that not having it on paper will allow you greater ease on finishing the project. But no, it’s actually a bomb waiting to happen.
You don’t have to be an attorney to realize contracts protect you. It will set in stone what the client should expect and more importantly, what they cannot demand from you. If you don’t have a contract, chances are you will be running endless errands. Clients are bound to demand, wanting to pinch as much effort from you for every dollar paid.
You can always download contracts online or better yet get your lovely contract professionalized by Creative Snaps.
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4. Identify possible bottlenecks and address them before they materialize.
Bottlenecks happen all the time in business. Congested traffic shows you need to do a strategic approach in dealing with them. When the problem has materialized, it may be too late.
Note that as a freelance web developer your clients do not need websites per se. What they need is a solution to their business problem, which is solved by putting up a website.
In this regard, it is important that you identify possible areas in your web development that may take longer to finish. Be open about it to your client.
Or for that matter unintended delays. In your hurry, you may have forgotten about using the appropriate DOCTYPES or used old-school HTML for table layouts – mistakes newbie web developers usually make.
Mistakes could happen to anyone. What’s not acceptable is being irresponsible about it. Making your client wait for days on end paints the picture of an inept web developer or an unprofessional one – somebody certainly not worth keeping.
Doing client research also pays huge dividends in building an awesome client relationship. For instance, knowing ahead of time that you’d be reporting to a non-techie point of contact should tell you to make your presentations more chewable – in layman’s terms.
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5. Open appropriate communication channels.
Lastly, communication is at the heart of a relationship. Let regular interaction make your business thrive.
As you forge ahead etching a stunning website day by day, you will have erased potential areas of disagreement by constant communication. You’d do your client a favor when you over-communicate rather than when client communication is too few and far between. It may feel redundant and silly but updates on a project show you’re serious about keeping things on schedule.
To do this, establish appropriate communication channels and stick to a regular reporting schedule. When a website project detail is sketchy on your head, asking your point of contact is always a vote of confidence on how reliable your freelance web dev is.
Constant communication builds trust. And when trust is there, it’s a wise investment that gets you through even during tough times – when things don’t go as plan.
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It’s certainly a cold world out there and chances are you could be fighting a losing battle in your client relationships. However, you need not be on your own. It’s high time you muscle up.
This is where Creative Snap can lend you a hand. Built specifically for web dev freelancers, CS is a workflow management platform that takes care of the nitty-gritty in your business right from the get-go. Talk about a one-stop shop at your beck and call (e.g., contract management, online proofing, client billing). And yes, stunning proposals too with templates that give you more bang for your buck.
With Creative Snap, building an awesome client relationships shouldn’t be an uphill climb after all. And the best part’s this one-of-a-king tool won’t cost you an arm and a leg just to get started.
After all, when everything’s said and done, it’s when you make your client win that you win!