Creating successful partnerships as a remote freelancer
Have you thought about leaving your 9 to 5 to go freelance? An increasing number of skilled professionals in search of more autonomy over their time and location are turning to freelancing.
The good news is that remote work for freelancers is abundant, however, building your clientele and reputation takes a bit of work in the beginning. Your first steps into freelancing might be a bit of trial and error. But once you have steady work under your belt, invest in creating successful partnerships. You want to hold on to clients you love and continue receiving their business! Check out our list of what you should do to create a successful partnership as a remote freelancer.
Finding the right freelance clients
Our number one tip is to be picky; hire the right clients from the start. Remember that the freelance-client relationship is an equal partnership—you can say “no” if you don’t think it’s the right fit. This will save you a lot of stress, time, and even sub-par work, since you won’t perform at your best if you’re not happy. Take some time to reflect and ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of freelance projects appeal to me?
- What is my preferred remote work style—low contact, weekly check-ins, etc?
- How do I like to communicate—phone, email, video calls, slack, etc.?
- How much time am I willing to devote to this client?
- What are my deal-breakers?
Keep an eye out for any red flags, such as lack of communication, undefined expectations, and not-so-nice people. Finding the right clients will set you up for success by establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Take a look at this list of the best sites to find remote work.
Clarity before commitment
When interviewing clients—yes, the interview goes both ways—be sure to establish boundaries and communicate expectations before committing to a project. It’s important to clarify how the collaboration is going to work as well as what’s expected of you. Each freelance job is its own universe, and for some clients, this may be their first time hiring a freelancer. The best way to get clarity and ensure you’re on the same page is to ask questions. Here are some questions to consider:
- How do they prefer to work? Let them know your preferences too.
- What are the channels of communication? How often should you stay in touch?
- What are their office hours? Establish yours. Are you available nights and weekends?
- How will you deal with any problems?
- What are the deliverables?
- What are the deadlines?
- What is the workload and will that change?
- How will you be paid—bank transfer, PayPal, Transferwise? Be aware of any transfer costs and be sure to pass them onto the client by including them into your rate.
Just like in any relationship, communication is key to avoid misunderstandings or falling short of your client’s expectations.
How to succeed as a remote freelancer
The basics of freelancing
So you’ve got the job! You’d be surprised how hard it is for clients to find reliable freelancers. To ensure a successful partnership, you need to at least maintain the minimum expectations to keep your client happy: meet project deadlines, deliver the work they want, ask questions, and keep the lines of communication open.
It’s essential to have a contract that outlines the expectations and payment terms. Be sure to submit on time and follow up if there are any payment delays. Always assume positive intent; when emails get lost or overlooked, a friendly follow-up email will usually resolve most issues.
These are the basics of setting up a successful partnership, but there is so much more you can do! Keep reading.
Oversharing is caring
Since freelance work lacks the day-to-day touch points of working in an office, over-communication is key to building strong partnerships. Don’t rely on mind reading; ask questions and communicate often. Be clear about how you will communicate—phone, email, video conferencing? Pro tip: stick to your agreed upon office hours, otherwise you run the risk of blurring your boundaries. Over-communication is the best resource to guarantee that the work you produce is the work the client wants.
Find a collaboration tool to share progress and drafts of your work. This is especially important in the beginning to ensure that you’re meeting expectations. Popular project management tools for freelancers are Asana, Trello, and Slack. Check out these other top collaboration tools for remote workers. Using these channels can improve organization, transparency, and time management if your client needs to course-correct your work before a deadline.
Honesty is the best policy
Be clear with your client about your abilities; you don’t want to deceive them by agreeing to tasks and projects that fall outside of your skillset. That doesn’t mean you need to turn down work beyond your current capabilities, but make sure it’s within reach. Be honest, let your client know that this project falls outside of your expertise but that you are willing to learn and are confident in your ability to accomplish the task.
As Marie Forleo says, “everything is figureoutable!” You’d be surprised how many clients are willing to work with you on something new if they’re happy with your deliverables thus far. Plus, you’ll learn new skills along the way and build a stronger relationship with your client by being transparent and overcoming a challenge. This relieves any pressure due to imposter syndrome or having to meet unrealistic expectations.
Strengthen your relationship with your freelance clients
Go above and beyond
If you’ve got something good going, don’t risk losing it! Nurture the relationship with your client by exceeding their expectations. Produce stellar work, do what you said you were going to do, ask if there is anything you can assist with, and propose ideas that make their life easier—make yourself indispensable. Clients that are impressed with your work will not only stick with you, but may also refer other clients your way. Plus, overdelivering gives you leverage for when you’re ready to renegotiate your rates.
Don’t be afraid to ask
We can’t say this enough: communication is key! You want to get feedback on your work, process, and communication, but it might not come voluntarily. Make it a habit to ask your client for feedback throughout the life of a project, and after submitting the final product. Feedback is nothing to be scared of; it will improve your work style and make you a better fit for current and future clients.
Freelancing tips for beginners
There’s a lot more to becoming a freelancer than just being hired for your work. You become your own boss, which means you have a lot more say in the people you collaborate with and the projects you take on. Once you find both your ideal workflow and clients that you enjoy working with, you need to maintain your ideal work life. We hope you found our tips on how to create a successful partnership as a remote freelancer helpful!