Proper communication is the backbone of a successful freelance career.
After all, your clients don’t “know” you in the traditional sense. They are not quite familiar with your personality, ethics or lifestyle. Your reputation shows it. At Moonlighting, we know that mistakes in communication can diminish your business reputation in a matter of hours.
The mishaps below are common both among novice and experienced freelancers, according to CEOs who regularly hire freelancers. Don’t be guilty of those, too!
1. Failing to follow up
“Most freelancers are guilty of giving up on a prospect just too early. Don’t turn this into a habit. When you follow-up, you show a prospect that you are being serious about doing business with them. Perhaps your prospect didn’t need your services the first time you’ve pitched them, but in two-four weeks time, a lot can change. Unless you follow up, you may not know about the new need they are having right now.”
— Joel House, CEO of Search Media.
2. Not communicating the delivery timeline
“No one is fond of being left wondering whether the work is done or not. Most clients don’t need reports on the slightest progress, but a general outline of how long a project will take is mandatory. For larger tasks, outline milestones and work out a reporting schedule (i.e. status updates once a week). In that case, both parties will stay in the loop and feel confident that the ball is rolling.”
— Imran Tariq, CEO of Web Metrix Group
3. Missing a deadline with no notice
“Estimating an accurate delivery date may be tough, especially for larger projects. You should always quote at least 5-10 days more than you actually think you need. Yet, if you still can’t meet that deadline, notify your client at least 24 hours in advance. A short polite note explaining that you need extra X days is better than going radio silent, while you frantically catch up on things.”
— D’Vaughn Marqui Bell, CEO of Global Currenciez
4. Not stating your business hours/response timeline
“This is equally important for proper communication with domestic and foreign clients. Unless you clearly establish your time boundaries (e.g. no calls after 6 pm), most clients will assume it’s fine to contact you at any time of the day. When you are just getting started with a new prospect, send them a quick reminder saying that you are typically available for calls between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and in general, it can take up to 24-hours for you to respond to their emails.”
— Tim Schmidt, CEO of SkinPro
5. Using multiple communication channels
“Using Slack, Skype, Viber, email and your good old phone all at the same time means that certain communication will fall through the cracks. Actively use just 2-3 channels at a time and ask the clients to send the most important communication either via email or Slack (as you can set up a neat automation to save/backup all the files).”
— Sebastian Naturski, CEO of Your Diamond Teacher Media
6. Failing to communicate your deliverables
“Most freelancer-client misunderstandings occur during the project wrap-up stage. In most cases, those are a direct result of poor communication at the beginning. After all, if you did not outline what exactly a client will get for their money, no wonder that some expectations will be unmet. Hence, always clearly list all the deliverables in your contract. For instance, if you are a copywriter, the list will look like this: 600-words web page copy; One set of content for an A/B test; and one round of edits based on the A/B test results.”
— Shakir Akorede, CEO of 501 Words
7. Using the same cold pitching template as everyone else
“A quick search will return you hundreds “winning pitch template” examples. People swear that those exact words had brought them thousands in new business. The problem? Everyone uses them and no prospective client wants to see yet another recycled, impersonal sales email in their inbox. Use these templates as your inspiration, but customize and personalize each query you are sending!”
— Zoriy Birenboym, CEO of eAutoLease.
8. Not addressing a prospect by name
“To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir/Madam” are the worst opening lines for your pitch email. They shrink your chances of getting the job to 1%. So always take the time to research the person you are pitching — find them on LinkedIn or Twitter, or use Rapportive extension to do the job for you.”
— Tobi Abdulgafar, CEO of Your Content Mart
You may think you do an awesome job with each of your clients, but that does not mean you can’t improve your communication skills. If you follow these 8 tips, you’ll stand a great chance of enjoying a smooth, professional workflow with your clients and earning repeated business and referrals from them. Moonlighting has more than half a million freelancers and small businesses ready to work on-demand, so take what you’ve learned and sign up for Moonlighting today to find your next great hire!
See the article originally published in the USA Today, 8 Communication Mistakes Freelancers Make.