Have you ever asked yourself what makes some freelancers succeed and easily grow their customer base while others can't even retain the existing clients? Why some freelancers can make a full-time career out of it while others can't even break-even? As they say, the devil is in the details and these details are rather small things that make a huge difference.
Don't create problems, create solutions
My supervisor once said "Anar don't create problems for a client, come up with solutions". This is even more important when we talk about a freelance marketplace. Most of your clients don't have time, they are busy entrepreneurs or managers, that come to you for your expertise and help. They definitely don't come to you to hear one sentence phrases that tell them they have a problem with no roadmap on how to solve it:
- "Your server doesn't work"
- "You need SSL"
- "Everything works on my end, so it should work on your's as well."
Let's dissect one of these sentences and understand what the issue here is.
Imagine you visit a doctor and due to a problem with your nails. The doctor takes a look at your nails and says "You have a nail fungus, thank you for coming, bye bye". Now you are sitting in the doctor's office and thinking to yourself "Why did I even come here? May as well just Googled it, would've saved myself a trip".
It is exactly the same situation with your clients. If your client has an issue with a server, instead of telling them that they have an issue with a server you can break it down and give them a step-by-step approach on how to solve it. For instance, "Hey Fred, I noticed that your Amazon AWS is not setup so we have a trouble uploading a website. Since AWS is not an area of our expertise we recommend getting an AWS Deployment Expert and here are her details: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can get a server on Hostgator.com and we can upload it there for you."
Do you see the difference between these 2 sentences? First one, assumes that the client has a technical understanding of everything that is happening (which is not the case most of the time) and it also gives no suggestions to the client on how they should go about fixing it. The second sentence, on the other hand explains the situation and tells the client what and how they need to do to fix the problem.
Don't show frustration to the clients
It is ok to feel frustrated and upset, at the end of the day we are all humans and not robots. However what is not ok is to show that to clients. Big no-nos are rolling eyes, that one word "fine" that shows that you are just doing someone a favor and passive aggressive remarks. Now since, we are people and can get emotional it is totally understandable if it slips once or so but what is not ok is if that becomes a consistent way of you dealing with a disagreement. As a freelancer you need to understand that ideal clients doesn't exist and you will have disagreements every once in a while but being able to solve those disagreements calmly with a rational justification of your stance is what separates those who are good from those who are great. Let me give you an example how to handle a client that might ask for something that is out of scope:
" Hello Fred, I understand that the clip art visualization feature is very important for you and I can see how it can be a great addition to this app. When reviewing, our initial spec I saw that we didn't include this feature in the scope so obviously we didn't plan for it. However, I would be more than happy to add it for you as a change request. It will take additional 7 hours of work (5 for the backend and 2 for the frontend) and would cost 7x$30=$210. Please let me know if that works for you and we can action it as soon as possible."
Always remember, no one can force you to do anything and especially no one can make you do something you didn't agree to. So there is really no reason for frustration, the only thing that showing frustration does is ruins your relationships and destroys your mood. If you need to release your emotions, that is a separate topic and you need to look into boxing, bjj, yoga and etc, but definitely don't release your emotions with the clients. It is not mature and the consequences are a lost client. People generally mirror each other, so if you are frustrated they will be frustrated, if you are calm and rational, they will become calm and rational.
Don't dismiss cultural diversity
As a freelancer you are in a global marketplace and you are interacting with people of different cultures and backgrounds. If you really want to be ahead of competition, open google search and spend 15-30 minutes learning about the person's culture. They say "Dear Fred", you say "Dear Gregory", they call you "Sir" definitely don't call them "buddy/bro/man", they are from "Azerbaijan" then do a quick google to see if there are any Azerbaijani holidays coming up. These little things might seem like nothing but they will transform your relationships with clients from a mere merchandise to a proper friendship. Who knows you might even get a big tip and more referrals from this very client. Sky is the limit when you make your clients feel special.
Some will say, "Why should I learn about their culture? They should learn about my culture." That's a fair stance, however that stance will cost you money, cost you high ratings and cost you a tremendous success that you can achieve. So if you want to keep that view don't complain about other freelancers surpassing you and making laps around you.
We live in a world that is very opinionated and everyone has their own opinions on everything. Someone can read this article and say it doesn't work for them. I will tell these people to look into number. Opinions are subjective, numbers are not. The numbers tell us that those who are more thoughtful and caring towards their clients get more orders, more recognition and ultimately more enjoyable experience of freelancing.