Clients love or hate a freelancer based on his or her ability to impress them. To that effect, there are three rules of freelancing.
- Produce your best work,
- submit the work on time,
- and be easy to work with.
Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the graduating class (2012) of University of the Arts cinched it when he said,
“People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time.
And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.
People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time.
They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you.
And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”
In short, clients are impressed by three things:
- The quality of your work,
- Your ability to meet deadlines and
- How easy working with you is.
It’s that last point we’re going to be talking about today. If you’re a freelancer worth your salt, your work is bound to be good. It may not be the best, but it definitely is a cut above the rest.
Can you wait to impress your client with the quality of your work and your diligence towards deadlines, though? At the very least, it takes a couple of weeks from the day the client contacts you to the day you turn in the first draft.
By that time, the client has already formed an opinion of you.
So how can you impress the socks off your client before you’ve even turned in the first draft?
Know their time zones
Knowing your client’s time zone and keeping your communication limited to their working hours makes a big impression. That you get a faster response as a result, is an added advantage.
Unless it’s urgent, I don’t email my clients before 8 am their time. This means that my U.S based clients are only accessible after 4:00 p.m. and U.K based clients after 11 am. If I need a response on the same day from my client in Australia, I have to contact him well before noon as he’s 6 hours ahead.
To stay on top of the times zones, set up different clocks on your computer and phone. Use the world clock option in your phone and refer to it whenever you need to.
While working around your client’s time zone isn’t required, the extra effort you put into making sure you contact your client during his work hours does not go unnoticed.
Be available when the client is
No matter which time zone a client is in, I always make a note of what time a client is emailing me.
A client of mine always emails me after 4 p.m. his time. Since he’s two hours behind me, it usually means his emails reach me after 6 p.m. If I’m expecting an email from him, I usually clock off a little early and get back for another hour’s work at 6.
He gets his response , and I get the information I need for his project in minutes. This gives me the entire next day to work on it and stick to the deadline. It’s a win-win situation.
Unless it’s an inappropriate time for you, make it a point to be available when your client usually emails you. The client will be impressed , and you’ll both get a lot done.
If you’re anything like me, seeing an unread email in your inbox drives you batty. You continuously check your email on your phone – even when you’re watching Euro 2012, to make sure you don’t miss an important email.
While a part of me knows I don’t need to be this obsessive about email, I can’t help it. Checking my email this regularly helps me stay on top of client emails.
More than one client has appreciated receiving a reply within an hour.
No matter what you do, don’t enable push notifications on your phone though. You’re never going to have any peace otherwise , and you’ll probably miss your favourite team score the winning goal too!
At the end of the day, personality is everything. More than one client-freelancer relationship has ended because of a clash of personalities.
The one thing that always works is a friendly personality. Always ask after the client, thank them and remember any personal tidbit they tell you.
If a client mentions having a tough week, ask about it the next time you email. If one mentions having a kid, occasionally ask after him. If they mention vacation time, help them out by turning work in early before they leave.
A personal touch goes a long way. Let your client know you’re paying attention. Keep the relationship professional at all times though. Emailing just to catch up is not professional. If you’re friends with your client, use their personal email.
Impressing the socks off your client
It’s simple really – the easier you are to work with, the more your client will love you.
Just team that up with excellent work and meeting deadlines every time and you’ll be your client’s ideal freelancers.
And if you can’t manage all of them, two out of three is all you need.
How do you make it easy for your clients to work with you? Do they look forward to hearing from you?