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Focus on freelancing: You’ve got the gig, now what?

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5 ways to collaborate better with your new client

When starting out as a freelancer, it’s not uncommon to think that the hard part will be getting new clients in the door. While that’s certainly no easy feat, making those clients happy—and holding on to them—can be just as tricky.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that creative collaboration with your new clients goes smoothly and keeps them coming back for more.

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1. Don’t take on more than you can handle 

There’s a fine line between keeping busy and being buried up to your eyeballs. Try maintaining a spreadsheet that has hours associated with different project deliverables as a quick reference for estimating how much time you’ll need to commit. This will be handy in determining if you have the bandwidth or not. It’s obviously not an exact science, but a ballpark range can help with such decisions.

Sure, it can be scary to consider turning work away, but taking on too much can mean rushed work that isn’t up to your usual standards. Turn an overabundance of work away today to have more satisfied clients that want to work with you again and again tomorrow.

2. Set firm expectations from the start, and keep the communication flowing

Ensure you both know what the deliverables are in terms of tone, medium and timeframe right from the start. Having your client fill out a brief to kick off the project will help you set and manage expectations off the bat. And as the project evolves, put checkpoints in place to ensure you remain on the same page.

Always let the client know if something isn’t working

Most importantly, always let the client know if you think something is changing with your ability to meet the deadline or if something isn’t working. Chances are they might have some ideas to help. Don’t forget, they are literally invested in this project’s success too.

3. Keep up on the current trends for project inspiration

Subscribe to at least three newsletters that contain trends tied to the type of content or collateral you create and/or the industry that you do most of your work in—and then keep them in a newsletter folder in your inbox.

Even if you only have time to skim the headlines, when you’re trying to decide on a font for a piece of content, you’ll remember seeing an article titled “The three new fonts you need to know about now,” for example. And you’ll be able to easily track it in your handy new folder.

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4. Make sure meetings are scheduled for when you can make it

Life happens, we all know that. But your client doesn’t need to know just how much life is happening within the walls of your workspace. As much as possible, only agree to meetings that are within the hours you know you will be able to attend. It might be challenging to say you have another commitment, especially if you think you might be able to get out of it.

But thinking you can get out of it and then having to cancel might send a message to the client that they aren’t a priority. And canceling or even postponing repeatedly might send them looking for someone that will be more appreciative of their time.

5. Get the tools of the trade

Until you’ve been a freelancer, you don’t always know just how many moving pieces go into it—but thankfully, technology is your friend and can save you a lot of time once you get the right combination.

Whether it’s tools to prevent you from distractions, templates to help you with contracts or invoices, photo libraries and graphic design tools, you can easily find a plethora to choose from on the Internet. To save time and money, try to find tools that specifically fit your needs.

Having one place to go for everything you use on a daily basis will save you several days of searching

For example, as a freelancer, you’re probably sharing large files and collecting feedback on those files. Hightail is a subscription service that allows you to share large multimedia files with anyone, and clients can quickly and easily leave precise comments on file previews and streams, saving you from having to figure out where feedback is being directed.

If you’re just getting started as a freelancer, you’ll want to keep as many of your tools as you can together in a folder on your desktop or in your bookmarks. Having one place to go for everything you use on a daily basis will save you several days of searching, over what we hope will be a long, illustrious freelancing career.

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