Last updated on September 12th, 2020
Freelancing is not an easy career to pursue because of its numerous challenges, especially when you’re just starting. Even experienced professionals have to confront some unforeseen circumstances when working for some problematic clients. A freelance work inevitably comes with its own issues that need to be addressed beforehand.
Many professionals want to break the shackles of a monotonous office job and travel to a distant place to work. Instead, they prefer working from home to be their own boss. But a significant risk in starting a career as a freelancer is that it may limit your earnings if you don’t know the tricks. If you also aspire to work as a freelancer, you must be prepared to tackle many problems; you may face initially.
For example, maintaining a good relationship with clients is important to get work consistently. But landing a project and then having many more assignments from the same client are two different skills.
When some freelancers win projects, but due to their unprofessional approach and unpleasing behavior, they lose their clients. Maintaining good relationships with them is, therefore, essential; but it is just one of the challenges. Similarly, freelancers should also effectively deal with issues such as demanding clients, iterations, payments, a low budget of clients, hourly rates, etc.
But if you know how to tackle a client and other issues, you can achieve your earning goals gradually. There is no doubt that with a professional approach, freelancers can earn nicely. With plenty of earning opportunities as a freelancer, the number of professionals leaving their regular job to work as a freelancer is snowballing. In the US, over 62.2 million freelancers are working as a freelancer in 2019, and the number is expected to reach 90.1 million by 2028.
Webinar To Address Freelancers’ Issues
To help freelancers, such as a graphic designer, Designhill conducted a webinar on September 27, 2019. The guest speaker was Ms Helen, who herself is a freelance product designer and a solopreneur having more than 7 years of experience creating UI/UX and graphic designs. She also runs a blog on Instagram @ ui.helen, which is dedicated to helping freelancers and designers resolve their issues.
Helen shared her experience as a freelancer with the design community during the webinar session. We give you the excerpts from the webinar, where she offers freelance tips and basic rules of working with clients.
Check Out The Webinar Video
Things Freelancers Should Consider Before Working For Clients
01. Find Ways To Get More Clients
First, know how to get more clients as you will need them for a consistent workstream. Freelancers should explore referrals — an important way to get more clients. When you work for a satisfied client, request if he or she can refer your services to others as you have more capacity to work.
Sometimes, we are too shy to ask clients for referrals. When I requested clients for references, three out of five gave me more work. Many of them think that you may not have the time or capacity to work more. Therefore, you need to tell them about your willingness to have more assignments.
Social media is another platform to find more clients and freelance graphic design jobs. Write posts on LinkedIn, describing how you helped a client achieve goals. This site will give a hashtag to your post to take it to the people who matter to you.
Additionally, find out local companies who may be offering work and apply for a freelancing job. It is a wrong approach to wait for a company publishing a vacancy for a job. Since you are a freelancer, you should anyway apply for work even if the company has not posted a vacancy for work. Just tell that you have come to know about their project and that you can help them in doing the job professionally. You can even tell the mistake the company might be making in a project so that it contacts you for the work.
02. Getting Details From Clients
Before you start working with a client, what questions should a designer ask to get the relevant details? Well, let me give you an example. Suppose the project is for creating mobile applications. You should ask clients about their business and target audience, along with your direct and indirect competitors. Then, ask some specific questions such as — which platform the client wants to build the application on. Is it Android, iOS or bot? You should also ask about the timeline of the project and the budget.
Most clients will never answer your questions regarding the budget. Instead, if you go on asking about the budget, many of them will ask you about your fees for that particular project. So, be prepared to tell your fee if the client requests. Besides, you should ask many more questions to a client such as what is your philosophy, what kind of functionality do you want in a mobile application, etc.
Some clients already put such questions and their answers in their specification section of a brief. Still, you may ask several additional questions to get the information you need to do the project.
03. Avoid Working For A Low Fee
Most clients look for the professional who can work for them at a cheap price. They will talk politely. But you should avoid such clients who want to get work done at a meager price.
Also, I can tell from my experience that you should also not be giving too heavy discounts on your fee to the client for a project just because you have been working with him for many months. If you have to give a discount, do not make it more than 10 per cent. Do not fall in the massive discount trap of the clients when they hire a freelance graphic designer to work cheaply for them.
04. Handle Difficult Clients Cleverly
If you are thinking of dealing with a problematic client right before starting work, I will advise you not to approach at all. If the client is not like a heartwarming person and not wishing to work with you, then you should not have this person in your work life. But if a client becomes aggressive during the work, you should be very diplomatic in dealing with such clients for freelance success.
So, this is the question of balancing your self-esteem and temptation of earning money. I will say that you should not ever offend such aggressive clients. Do not answer their emails aggressively. But be straightforward and frank in your communication with clients.
05. Charge Extra For Iterations
What should you do when clients ask for too many iterations? If a client agrees to your work process that you have already described in your proposal, then he/she will not ask for many iterations. But if a client insists, then charge an extra price for any additional iteration.
06. Set Your Hourly Rate Carefully
It is a long topic, and I can go on talking about it. But in a nutshell, if you are a beginner, you would like to set an hourly rate probably because you want to work for a more extended period. I quickly do the work. I do work in, say, half a day. So, I hate the hourly rate as in that way, I feel like being punished for being efficient.
If I finish a project early in three hours, that is my efficiency and why should I get little money for that much of time only. Therefore, I tell the clients about my overall fee for that project. It does not matter if I finish it in three hours or five hours, whichever is the deadline, as that is my concern and not the clients’. So, make sure that you have set the hourly rate or any other payment conditions right for your graphic design services.
07. Ask For Advance Payment
First, make sure that you do not start working on a project without taking advance payment from clients. Do not work with a client who is not willing to make a part of the payment in advance. If you have issues with down payments, when the work is completed and approved by the client, never send the source file until you receive the final payment. I had experienced such situations when I sent my client the complete work and source file, but I did not receive the payment.
As far as the source file is concerned, you should mention in your proposal that the client will have full ownership of their files only after making the full payment. Make it clear in your proposal to avoid any conflict.
So, these are the main points that Ms Helen advised freelance designers to consider before taking up work from the client. But these alone cannot make you a stronger freelancer as you have to cover a lot of other aspects in this field. For example, if you are a designer, your portfolio and skills are crucial to shaping up your career. Therefore, create an excellent portfolio with case studies showing how you solved clients’ problems.
Freelancing is a career full of challenges, even for experienced professionals, as they have to deal with new clients all the time. But with some basic things put in place, you can lay a solid foundation for steady career growth. These basics for doing freelance work include knowing the ways to get more clients, getting crucial project details, knowing how to handle demanding clients, avoiding low budget projects, setting hourly rates and dealing with payment issues.