A freelancer's guide to creating successful client relationships

A practical guide to creating successful long-term client relationships

As with any working relationship it’s important to consider how to make the relationships with your clients as successful as possible to keep that work rolling in!

In this guide

how to build successful client relationships as a freelancer

Working with clients

A little politeness goes a long way.

When interacting with clients remember to be professional and friendly. The better you treat your clients the more likely they’ll be to send work your way.

Communicate well and you’ll do well.

No one likes being left in the dark, especially when it comes to work. Keep in touch with your client and make sure you let them know if you’re going to be uncontactable for any reason and when you’ll be back in touch.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Whether it is before the project or during, it’s always worth asking if you’re unsure about something, no matter how small or silly you think it is. Better to ask now than to do the work and wish you’d asked later.

Be transparent about your availability

We all like to be busy at work and juggling clients is part of the job; but be realistic and make sure you consider how many hours a week you can commit to without working yourself into the ground.

Applying for projects

Check your skills match the project's requirements

There is nothing worse than committing to doing something and then realising your skills just aren’t quite up to it. Check your skills match the project, it’s great to be ambitious but make sure you can complete the work to a good standard. Ultimately if you do a job well you’ll have a satisfied client and hopefully more work!

Craft the perfect application

Your application is your sales pitch, you know you can do this project but what makes you the right person for the job as far as the client is concerned? Remember the more the client knows about your skills, background, experience and why you’re particularly good at something, the easier it is for them to press that "Hire" button.

Be ready for questions

Your reviews and profile are often used instead of an interview but some clients may still choose to carry out an interview via phone, Skype, or even in person. The same rules apply to a phone/video interview as to a conventional face-to-face interview. You need to be on-time and check the device you are using is working beforehand. It’s always good to prepare some questions to help you learn more about the role. Use this opportunity to find out about what the client expects – timescales, context of the project, deliverables. This is your chance to start building that relationship.

Learn more about writing a great application:

How to write a great application

As a freelancer, your application is your first point of contact with a potential client. It’s your chance to really sell yourself and get noticed. Read guide

Working on a project

Set Expectations

Remember those questions you asked in the interview? Now you can agree clear and manageable expectations with your client before you get started so you both know exactly what is expected.

You might find this guide on writing effective briefs interesting to see how we recommend our clients brief the freelancers they work with:

How to write effective briefs for freelancers

It's an undisputed fact in freelancing and project working, the quality of the output is only as good as the quality of the input. In other words, if you want a great piece of work back, you need to provide a great brief. Read guide

Keep track of your conversations

Keep track of all your conversations with your client during the project including yours and the client’s expectations.

Once you're underway on the project, it's recommended to record any important conversations or notes/instructions in the project's messages in your account. This helps us to help you resolve any disputes.

project messaging screen
Project messaging screen example, with personal details blacked-out

Keep an eye on deadlines

Quite often, a client will set a deadline because there are many other moving parts to the project that are dependent on you finishing your bit first.

Missing a deadling by a couple of days might seem like a small issue to you, but it can cause clients big, expensive, headaches.

If the deadline is getting closer and seemingly less and less achievable don’t keep quiet about it. Let your client know as soon as possible, explain why it is taking longer and suggest a new completion date/time.

Other Resources

Working with higher value projects

As your business begins to expand and you work on higher value projects, you need to work out ways of protecting yourself.

Freelancer's guide to IR35

Understand IR35 and the tax implications of freelancing in the UK.

How to be a successful freelancer in the UK

Learn how to be successful in the UK's freelance marketplace.

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