The success of any freelancer depends on many factors. One of the most important of this is the communication that goes on between the freelancer and the client. Effective communication not only help the freelancer offer the best service possible but also reduce chances of revisions and rushed jobs to beat deadlines. The results of good communication mean happy clients and more lucrative business for the freelancer.
Challenges for effective communication
- Assumption of what the client wants
This is a serious issue especially when dealing with a new client. Let’s take an example of a client who asks a freelance writer to write about obesity. While one writer will go on and write about the topic, another with good communication skills will pause and ask questions. The client will need to answer important questions like:
- What is the target audience? Is the article for lay people or is it for professionals?
- Is it obesity in children, the youth or the aged? Further, is it in women or men?
- Is the topic from a medical/health or social perspective?
- What is the length of the article?
- What is the tone of the writing?
- What is the writing style? Is it in the first or third person pronoun?
In asking these questions, a freelancer gets to know exactly what the client wants. This effective interaction also helps some of the clients to have a more clarity of what they need. It is a fact that not all clients know or fully understand exactly what they want from a job.
- Not knowing the type of client you are dealing with
All clients are not the same. Not realizing this for a freelancer is a potential source of stress for both parties and a recipe for poor work and inefficiency. Common types of clients include:
- Clients who want too much details. This type may take much of your time that you would otherwise be using to accomplish the job at hand. Politely but firmly setting boundaries for such clients is an effective way of interacting with them. Let them judge the final results you produce instead of interfering with your work progress.
- The clueless client. This type of a client knows what they want but have no idea of the process of getting there. They may be technologically challenged. Interact with such clients in a simplified version of the process of achieving what they want. This will reassure them that you have adequate expertise to get to their desired goal.
- Know the key person
When offering freelancing services to corporations, get to know the decision makers. This way, you will know who to direct your questions to. In case of future references or questions about the job you can refer to specific persons who made what decisions.
- Relying on just one form of communication
Some freelancers are ill at ease when interacting with clients on the phone or meeting them face to face. Others have no problem in communicating with their clients through whatever means. For the shy freelancers they may over-rely on electronic mail interaction. While this is okay, some issues are best sorted out through a mix of communication methods that include face to face, phone, fax and email.
To avoid future misunderstanding, good interaction between a freelancer and their client involves putting important decisions and agreements into writing.
Good freelancer-client interaction promotes a great working relationship and more satisfying jobs.