Freelancers face numerous potential problems when dealing with clients. A quick Internet search reveals horror stories of non-paying clients, personality conflicts and unreasonable demands. Forward-thinking freelancers can gauge the worthiness of potential projects and clients by asking the following critical questions in advance of signing an agreement.
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- What are your long-term goals? Knowing the long-term direction can help freelancers develop strategies and tactics that can be built upon to continue advancing a business toward its goals.
- How do you see contract talent as a part of your long-term vision? This helps you set your expectations — and your calendar. You will be able to determine whether this has the potential to be a long-term project for your or if you will be seeking new work within the next few months.
Working with Freelancers
- Have you worked with freelancers in the past? What was your experience? Companies that have never worked with freelancers and those with a negative prior experience often require that you spend more time and energy in building trust.
- Have you ever completed projects of this scale in the past? If this is a client’s first go at an e-book, a social media marketing campaign or blog, you may need to anticipate some additional consulting hours to help your client understand the process.
- How often do you expect status updates or reports on progress? Knowing upfront how frequently a client expects a check-in can offer both security to the client and motivation to you, the freelancer.
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- What’s the deadline for this project? Deadlines should be set forth in advance, and in writing, to avoid misunderstandings.
- What is your budget for the proposed project? Budget projections can help freelancers develop a complete project plan, including the number of hours spent on specific activities.
- How many words or pages of content or design does this project require? Specifics are essential for proper budgetary planning. Combine this with the questions listed earlier to come up with a firm outline for the amount of work that can be completed to meet client expectations within the client’s deadline.
- Are there any fundamentals to setting up this project you require my help with? For instance, a client seeking web design services may not yet have secured a domain name or hosting account.
- What are your typical payment terms for outsourced contractors (e.g., Net 30)? As a freelancer, you often don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. But having an idea when to expect payment, especially from larger clients, is a major plus.
- Is there a non-compete clause in the contract? Many businesses don’t want contractors to share their proprietary methods or inside knowledge with direct competitors. It’s not ethical to share information between clients; however, a non-compete clause could prevent you from working for a direct competitor during and for a period after your contract relationship.
- Do you have specific examples of comparable websites, reports, presentations, etc. you particularly like? It’s always best to have a basic grasp of a client’s writing style or design preferences. You shouldn’t model past work precisely, but incorporate the right voice and tone in the materials you produce.
- Can you provide samples of previous quality work, prior website design or content that can help me grasp the appropriate voice? When clients provide examples of other designs, content or projects that have resonated with them, it helps you develop a plan delivering the same level of satisfaction.
Taking on a new client is both exciting and nerve-wracking for freelancers. There are plenty of expectations to be met on both ends, but by asking the right questions upfront, freelancers can adequately prepare for the upcoming project in terms of budgeting and time commitment.