Freelancing is exciting, but working with your first client can be a little bit daunting. In a world where many people are seeking opportunities to work for themselves, the initial client experience is more important than ever to gain confidence and recognition for work completed. I have compiled the key factors to consider and how to avoid them.

Communication is key.

I believe that it is common sense that communication with a client is key. It is important to establish a stable communication method with the client. It allows you to come across as a professional. Follow-up emails can be used to outline an overview of what was discussed in the meeting and what is expected from both people.

Many clients often choose to use Microsoft Teams or Zoom rather than a phone call or sending a string of emails. These methods are quick and sufficient but allow you to communicate in a timely manner. I have learnt that creating a document that introduces yourself and the services can be extremely useful. I quickly realised that I struggled to communicate with multiple clients whilst working part-time and studying. Therefore, moving forward, I’ve come up with a working schedule in order to work with multiple clients and maintain clear communication with them.

Establish clear terms.

When working with your first client, it is important for them to be happy with the designs or the work that you have created for them. This is how you are able to build your client list through recommendations. I have worked with a number of different clients; however, one of the first people whom I worked with was so unhappy with my designs that they never used them.

I learnt that it is important to establish a contract of terms or a brief of work before you proceed with the work you have agreed to do. This could include the number of changes you agree to work on or a set time schedule to complete the work. From speaking with other freelancers, creating a document that allows you to recognise key information from the client, such as fonts, colour schemes, current logos, style/brand inspiration, current audience stats, and business goals, is important before agreeing to do any work. This allows you to work with the correct assets before you spend a full day creating work that is not using the same font as what the client is currently using. I wish I had established this before working with my first clients, as it would have allowed for a more sufficient design process.

Take a step back.

There will be times when working with a client can be difficult. You may disagree on something, but it is important not to respond immediately. Take a step back from the situation. Write down your initial response in a note or a drafted email before replying to the customer. This lets you calm down, especially if the situation is heated, and think with a level head. Communication with a mentor about how best to deal with the situation will also help as they can look at the situation from a different point of view. You want to try and save the client project, so the final outcome is positive.

Try not to take things personally. I know this may be difficult when you are first starting out, but there can be situations where you have agreed to do the work with the client, but your goals and objectives may not align. This is okay, and the experience is healthy when continuing your freelancing journey, as it allows you to improve your services and create better relationships with future clients.

Various payment options.

I did not think about having different options for payment until I began working with different clients. My initial payment method is PayPal. It allows me to send invoices and keep track of payments easily. But this may not be a chosen method for everyone; therefore, it is important to offer bank transfers. I have also chosen to introduce the option for clients to pay in instalments so they can have some more flexibility. Nearly a year into my freelancing journey, I still have no set service prices as I like to work with clients by finding out their budgets and being accommodating without underpaying myself.

So now you understand what I have learnt from working with my first clients, reach out for a chat about how I can help you with your business.