Whether you’ve just started out as a freelancer or have been doing this a while, it’s always beneficial to try and fine tune the process of taking a new client on.
Ideally when you sign a new client on you want the process between that and completing the project to be as simple and smooth as possible.
You don’t want your client to have to keep asking for updates because there’s been a lack of communication. All that does is take time away from both of you and could leave them feeling unsupported.
A good onboarding process will make you look good and efficient, it’ll keep the dialogue open and your clients happy, hopefully so much so that they come back.
We’ve put together a few steps to follow when you sign on a new client that will help keep you organised.
Step one – The client gets in touch.
When the client first gets in touch, you might want to follow this up with an email which lets your clients know what to expect next.
At the start of a client relationship there are often a lot of questions being passed back and forth and they’re usually the same ones you have with each client.
To save some time here you could create a template detailing the next steps and send that out as soon as your client gets in touch.
You might want to include a timescale on when they can expect to hear back from you, where they can see your price list or answers to common questions they may have.
Step two – Send your quote
Once you have a basic understanding of what they’re asking for you can send out a quote. This could either be a fixed amount or subject to change once more detailed consultation has happened.
Once you send your quote over, don’t just leave it there. Offer a consultation call or to speak through something like Skype so that you can discuss the quote and their expectations in more detail.
Step three – Consultation
A consultation is a chance for the client to get to know you more, learn more about your process and what you can do for them. Often clients will prefer to talk to someone over the phone as it creates a more genuine connection which is more likely to get them to sign up.
This also gives you a chance to get to know the clients and exactly what they want from the work. If the scale of the project is bigger than you thought, then a new quote may be needed.
Step four – Send over your contract
Once the client is happy to go forward, now is the time to get it all in writing in the form of a contract.
A lot of people don’t start out with contracts, probably feeling that it’s a bit overkill for a solopreneur such as yourself. However, a contract is essential in order to protect both yours and the client’s interests.
So many freelancers end up not being paid because the client says they wanted something different, they’ve changed their minds or because they’ve simply just disappeared. A contract can help get the expectations from both sides down on paper so there’s no room for misinterpretation later on.
Send a welcome pack
Some freelancers need to send over additional bits of information and guidelines. Some people simply send an email, others will attach a PDF or eBook. Some create a page or client portal on their website that they can refer clients to.
Create a shared folder
If you know you’re going to be sending over a lot of documents, then you could set up a new shared folder on Dropbox or Google Drive so that they can send over files that you need and you can do the same.
This could also be a handy way to hand over your work at the end of the project but you should check whether this is going to be suitable for the client for doing so.
Do you have an onboarding process for clients? Please share your thoughts or any tips you’ve got for others in the comments.