Starting off as a designer, I used to struggle with freelance clients. I had fears that I was not good enough, or that my projects were never going to be accepted by the clients. I sometimes reduced my prices, or offered discounts because I was young, naive, and basically a little scared.
If you were lucky even to be chosen out of the thousands of designers out there, you know the client see's something special in you.
So throw out all those fears that I mentioned before.
In this post, I am going to share a few little things to improve the value of your design work. You work hard, so why not earn a few extra dollars in doing so?
Confidence & Communication
Confidence is the #1 factor when starting off with new clients. Don't be so submissive to the clients needs. Obviously don't be hard to work with, but try to display your skills as a designer, in a way that the client can feel comfortable that you know exactly what needs to be done.
Confidence is a big factor that shows your experience as a designer. This can help the client to value you and your work so much more.
Communication is also an incredibly important factor in your work. Be clear, but concise with your clients. Communicate as little or as much as necessary, and be sure to explain your workflow, why you chose to do a certain thing, and anything the client may ask. The easier you make it on the client, the simpler it will be to work with them.
This is one that I picked up quick. After getting a few freelance clients, I was happy. I finally started to earn some money for my work. I was feeling respected, and I was proud of my small, but notable accomplishments. BUT, one or two projects is not going to sustain you.
Keep in touch with clients. Try to stay organized and keep all client contact information in a folder or document so you can do a weekly or monthly check up on your clients. Do not annoy your clients with new emails or inquiries on a daily basis, but stay in touch. You never know when they need you to help them out, so it is important to be aware of your clients.
Also, offer other services. For example: You just completed a website, but you see the client is in need of some new widgets, or perhaps a plugin to help them accomplish a task. If you have the capabilities, make it known! You'd be surprised how much more work can turn up, just by sending a quick email. Sometimes the client might not even realize you know how to do certain things, so share your skills.
When taking on new clients, always be sure to manage your time in a proper and effective way. Be sure to value your work, and price it accordingly. Never pick the low hanging fruits of the design world. We've all seen this before. Whether it be the "quick" design job that will only take "1 hour" or the super fun project with "compensation", avoid these more times than not.
Sure, you may be attracted to the quick times, and fast cash, but looks are deceiving. In most experiences, those quick jobs take longer than expected, a lot longer. Oh and those jobs that offer "compensation", probably won't be worth looking at. If a client has to disguise the word payment with compensation, you should be very wary of choosing them.
Before It's Too Late
To add a little more to my previous point. Always communicate and get situated with client's before you sign the contract and start your work.
You don't want to get wrapped into a terrible job without a clear idea of what you will be paid, how the project will go, and how easy the client is to work with. Always prepare for your new design projects. You will be much happier turning down a project or two, rather than regretting that crappy client you have been stuck without payment from for a few months.
Now that you have read a few of these ideas, I hope you feel a bit better about working with new clients. Freelancing is hard at times, but it doesn't always have to be. With clear communication and some careful planning, the freelance life can be really rewarding.