5 Stages of Working with Freelance Clients

Freelance Clients

Image by ‘buddawiggi’

Freelancing involves working independently for any number of companies and on any number of projects. Freelancers generally work on different kinds of projects; like proof reading, writing guest posts, copy writing, etc. While working with different freelance clients, it is important to maintain a good relationship with them. Maintaining a good relationship with clients is crucial as a freelancer needs to build a good reputation in the market. Freelancers without a good reputation find it difficult to find new clients in the future. Like any other interpersonal relationships, relationships with long-term freelance clients also go through some stages. Every freelancer should properly understand these stages to properly handle the challenges that arise in each stage.

Each of the relationship stages with freelance clients and the ways to handle the different challenges that may arise are elucidate below:

The 5 Stages Of Working With Freelance Clients

Stage 1: Acquaintance and Definite Interest

The first stage in your relationship with a freelance client begins when you meet them. At this stage they are still a potential prospect, but they have shown a clear-cut interest in working with you. A clear-cut interest means more than a single, casual interaction with you. They may be trying to know more about the kind of work you do. Interactions at this stage generally happen through emails or social networks. The main challenge at this stage is to create a good impression on the client. This will help in moving the relationship to the next stage. Make sure that you give proper responses to all the queries of the prospective clients. If you maintain your own website, make sure that you keep your website and social media profiles up to date.

Stage 2: Engagement

The next stage in the relationship is engagement. In this stage the prospect becomes a client and engages you to work on a project with him. The prospect is convinced about your capabilities and shows lot of interest in working with you. The prospect will send you a request for a proposal. If your response fits his budget and requirements they will hire you. The main mistake many freelancers commit at this stage is getting caught up in the excitement to work with the client and failing to get a detailed agreement from them. It’s always good to get the terms of agreement between you and client in writing. If possible, it’s advisable even to sign a contract.

Stage 3: Honeymoon

You will enter the honeymoon stage of your relationship with your client when the client is satisfied with your work. The client will start complimenting you for your work and acts as if you can do no wrong. Your relationship will improve at this stage and they will start giving you more work. The client may also start giving you some incentives if you can deliver quality work and meet the deadlines well. Sometimes, the incentives may even exceed the ones agreed in the agreement between you and the client. The main challenge at this stage is to maintain the client’s good perception of you. One way to achieve this is to over deliver whenever it is feasible to you. You can ask for a testimonial from the client in this stage. The honeymoon stage lays a good foundation for the next vital stage.

Stage 4: Taken for Granted

This is the stage which every freelancer should handle properly and even try to avoid as far as possible. If not handled well, this stage can be the beginning of the end of the relationship. In this stage, you may start to take your client for granted and let the quality of your work fall. You may start to work only as much as is necessary to get by. The client too may start taking you for granted and fail to pay you on time for a project. This negative phase can be overcome by working harder to maintain your relationship. Never accept more work than you can handle. This will ensure that you maintain your quality and meet the deadlines set by the client. As you have already worked with the client for some time now, you can understand the client’ business model well and start giving suggestions which will add value to the client’s business.

Stage 5: The Breakup

If you are unsuccessful to maintain the quality of your work or fail to meet the deadlines, the relationship with you and the client may come to an end. The best way to handle this stage is to look for the warning signs early and take the necessary steps so that the relationship does not end. Do not hesitate to apologize for your mistakes and offer to correct them. If the client still wants to terminate the relationship, make sure that you end the relationship in a positive manner.

Client relationships are very important for the success of any freelancer. Following appropriate strategies to handle the challenges in all the stages outlined above can help in maintaining good long term relationships with freelance clients.

What do you think?  Would you add any stages to this professional working relationship?  Can you relate to these stages when working with clients in the past?  Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About Alyssa Clarke

Alyssa Clarke is a writer who also happens to be a tech lover. She is always on a look out for latest gadgets, apps and video games. She loves writing, travelling and reading books. You can learn more by following her on Twitter.