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How to Manage Clients as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, you’ll most likely work with a diverse group of clients. Some are easy, some are challenging. Some are delightful, some are intense. But regardless of what your clients are like, there is one thing they all have in common: your time is their money. And as a freelancer, you’ll always be running around trying to please your clients and make more money. While that’s a perfectly legitimate concern, you should not allow it to consume you. You need to retain a healthy work-life balance so that you can continue producing high-quality work while also being attentive to your personal life. Here are some tips on how to achieve and maintain that perfect work-life balance as a freelancer.

At some point, every freelancer or business owner will have to deal with difficult customers. From the very first customer service experience you have, you will form a view of whether you like dealing with people or not. From there, it’s just a small step to creating strategies to deal with difficult customers. While there are certain elements that can be applied to all types of customers, each type has its unique traits which must be considered when crafting a plan of action.

The Law Of Diminishing Returns

To start, it’s helpful to understand the concept of diminishing returns. This is where, for every action you take, you get a certain return (sometimes referred to as the “reputation gain” or “net promotor score”). However, over time, as your business grows, so does the effort required to generate the same amount of sales. For example, if you increase your prices by 10%, you might see an increase in sales of 20%… but, after a while, this increased sales might not be worth the additional effort you’re required to put in. This is what’s known as diminishing returns. To put it simply, as you get better at customer service, the additional effort required to produce excellent results becomes more difficult to achieve.

Set Boundaries

As a freelancer, you’ll inevitably have to draw a line in the sand and say no to projects that don’t fit within your scope. Setting boundaries is a critical part of self-care as a freelancer. It’s essential that you know where you draw the line and ensure that you don’t get pulled into any project that isn’t a good fit for you. It’s also important to be mindful of your clients and the projects they request. Sometimes working on a specific project for a specific person can feel great, but it can also have its downsides. If you’re worried that something you’re getting asked to do might not be the best fit for your skills or interests, it’s worth asking for more information or seeking help from an expert. After all, you’ll never know what future projects you might be able to negotiate or get approved for if you don’t try. Setting limits is a great way to ensure you don’t overextend yourself and put your personal life on hold. It might also be worth considering whether or not you’re being asked to do something that’s outside of your skill set. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in the work that goes into creating it that we don’t consider whether or not what we’re making is good. But as a freelancer, it’s all about you and what you want. You have to look at what you’re making and decide if it’s something you’re proud of or if you want to redo it. Setting limits will help you make the right decision and move forward confidently. It’s also worth noting that sometimes you might not be able to say no to a project or opportunity because of your obligations to another client or employer. In those situations, it’s worth considering whether or not you’re being asked to do something that you feel would be best suited for another freelancer. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of declining work, then it might be worth considering exploring other options. There are a variety of tasks that you might be able to take on that will allow you to continue producing high-quality work while also caring for your personal life.

Setting The Tone

In all professional relationships, from employee to employer, there is an important distinction to be made between friendliness and being friendly. You should generally approach clients with a friendly attitude, but you should also be aware that over-friendliness can sometimes backfire and put you in a vulnerable position. Being too friendly can cause you to appear weak, or it can even make your clients see you as a friend rather than a business partner. Establishing and maintaining a friendly yet professional relationship with clients will make or break your freelance career. In most cases, you will be working on a project basis, with the occasional one-off project or two, so you don’t need to worry about being too familiar with your clients or potential future employees; however, in the event that you develop a more long-term working relationship with one or more clients, then you should try to maintain a professional tone, especially when discussing business matters.

Learn To Say No

One of the most important things you can do for your personal life is to learn to say no. There are certain things in life that we all want to do, but being able to say no is a fantastic skill to have. Saying no allows you to politely decline a job or project that you feel isn’t up to your standards. It might also be worth considering whether or not you’re comfortable declining projects or tasks that are outside of your area of expertise or fit within your personal limits. Sometimes we just want to say yes to everything that comes our way, but that doesn’t mean that we’re being effective or the right thing for ourselves. Learning to say no to things that don’t serve your best interests will help you become a more confident person and enhance your quality of life. Remember, there are always pros and cons to saying yes or no, so learn to balance them both and ensure you’re making the right decision for you.

Prioritise Your Needs

As a freelancer, your needs come first. Your personal life will always take a backseat to your work life. One of the best things you can do for yourself as a freelancer is to establish a work-life balance and ensure that your personal needs are met. By prioritising your needs, you’re able to look at your options objectively and choose the best one for you. You don’t have to be afraid to say no to projects that don’t serve your best interests and you don’t have to settle for less than you deserve. It’s about making the right choice for you and your future, so be sure to put your needs first.

Enjoy Life

Above all else, your personal life is important to you. Your friends and family are the people you want to spend your time with, and your interests are the things you want to focus on. As a freelancer, you’ll never be too busy to enjoy life, but you’ll also never be able to say no to work. The key is to find the right work-life balance and ensure you’re prioritising your needs. Your needs don’t have to be solely focused on your work and your desires must be met regardless of what position you’re in. Make time for the things you enjoy and ensure your life is as balanced as possible. You’ll be happier in the long run and so will everyone around you.

Being a freelancer is a fantastic opportunity. You’ll most likely be able to work on projects or tasks that interest you, but it might also be worth exploring other options if you feel like you’re not getting the results you want. There are a variety of tasks that you might be able to take on that will allow you to continue producing high-quality work while also caring for your personal life. Even if you feel like you’re at the top of your field, there are always more qualified people around you. It’s worth considering what you might be able to offer that someone else can’t, and taking on projects and tasks that will enhance your skills and allow you to continue producing unique artwork.

The Importance Of Having A Strong Bond

One of the most important things as a freelancer is to build a strong bond with your clients. Just as with any other professional relationship, establishing and maintaining strong working relationships with clients is essential if you want to succeed as a freelancer. In most cases, you will be working on a project basis, with the occasional one-off project or two; however, you should be aware that occasionally your clients may request additional work from you, which could potentially lead to a longer-term working relationship. The key is to establish and maintain strong working relationships, and you can do this by having a positive attitude towards your work and your clients, and by establishing and maintaining open lines of communication. In most cases, this will be easy to do, and it will simply mean that you’re upfront about your pricing, delivery expectations and so on, but it can occasionally mean a little bit more than that.

Taking Responsibility

As a freelancer, you will be held responsible for all aspects of the work you produce. This is different to most other professional relationships, in that you are ultimately responsible for delivering the project on time and in the required quality, and you are also responsible for ensuring that all the necessary resources are available to produce the highest-quality work possible. Essentially, as a freelancer, nothing is provided to you, and you are expected to bring everything to the table. You should be aware that this can be both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. In most cases, you will be working on a project basis, with the occasional one-off project or two, so you don’t have to worry about being too responsible; however, in the event that you develop a more long-term working relationship with one or more clients, then you should try to take on more responsibility, especially when advising and providing guidance on business matters. It’s important to note here that just because you’re responsible for everything, it doesn’t mean that you have to take on all responsibility yourself. Sometimes, delegation is the key to getting things done.

Setting The Scope

When you’re first started out as a freelancer, you will mostly be working on project work, with the occasional one-off project or two. In these cases, it’s important to set the scope of the project as clearly as possible, so there are no misunderstandings later on. Clarity of scope is especially important with one-off projects, as you want to be sure that all the necessary details are covered before beginning work. If you underestimate the scope of a project, then you could end up with more work than you actually expected. In most cases, you will be working in a team, with one or more other project coordinators, and it’s important to communicate your expectations and clarify the roles of all team members, from the outset. Setting the scope for a project is extremely important, even if you’re working alone, so there are no misunderstandings later on.

Creating A Project Plan

Creating a project plan is an essential part of any project, whether you’re a freelancer or an employee. A project plan will detail all the necessary steps required to complete the project, as well as the schedule for these steps. Most importantly, it will also detail who’s responsible for what, so there are no last-minute surprises. For a freelance project, you will mostly be working in a team, with one or more other project coordinators, so it’s important to create a project plan that details all the necessary steps and responsibilities, from the outset. In most cases, you will be working in an office setting, so creating a physical project plan becomes relatively easy; however, if you’re working online, then you should look for tools that can be accessed from anywhere. In either case, it’s important to keep all project plans as clear and concise as possible, so that no one is confused later on, when details are being worked out; the fewer the details, the better. More details = more room for error. Creating a project plan can be quite daunting, especially if you’re a freelancer, as you have to consider everything yourself. It can be both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of planning to get the job done.

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Pricing

One of the most important things as a freelance professional is to establish a pricing structure that makes sense for you and your clients, yet still allows you to make a profit. It’s important to note here that just because you’re a freelancer, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to bill your clients whatever you want, without considering what makes sense for both of you. Just as with any other professional relationship, whether you’re employee-employee or employer-employee, you should always look for ways to save money, while still providing the best possible service. In most cases, you will be working on a project basis, with the occasional one-off project or two, so setting the price for these projects isn’t as difficult as it could be; however, if you develop a more long-term working relationship with one or more clients, then you should look to take on more projects, but you should also set a price that makes sense for both of you, considering the amount of work and time that will be required. It’s important to remember here, that even if you’ve been working in the same field for a while, pricing is a constantly changing environment, so you should look for ways to establish yourself as an expert in your industry, while still considering what makes sense for your clients.

Delivery And Documentation

Just as with any other professional relationship, whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor, it’s important to establish clear communication channels, as well as the necessary documentation. For a project, you will mostly be working in a team, with one or more other project coordinators, and it’s essential to establish clear communication channels, so everyone knows what’s going on, and it’s also paramount to provide adequate documentation, as proof of the work that’s been done. In most cases, this will simply be a matter of sending out the final deliverable, once the project has been completed; however, if you’re developing a more long-term working relationship with one or more clients, then you should try to create and maintain close communication channels, as well as the necessary documentation. This way, you can always refer back to previous conversations, and conversations with other team members, if necessary. Establishing and maintaining a strong working relationship with clients is critical if you want to succeed as a freelancer. It can also be quite intimidating at first, but in most cases, it’s just a matter of being upfront about your pricing, and taking on responsibilities, while delegating where necessary.

How To Deal With Difficult Clients

The phrase ‘difficult client’ might make you think of someone who is causing trouble or is a pain to deal with. However, there is a world of difference between dealing with difficult and challenging clients, which makes this article quite useful for anyone who needs to understand the differences. Here are some of the most common traits of a difficult client:

They Disrupt The Routine

When you have a routine, you know what you are getting into. For example, you know that when a client calls you, they will want to set up an appointment with you. When they call you and there is no routine, you have no idea what to expect and therefore no idea how to deal with the call. This makes it difficult to plan and adapt your behavior to satisfy the demands of the client. A difficult client will constantly disrupt your plans, which makes it hard to keep your sanity. This is why you should never agree to meet a client at a specific place and time, especially if you are not used to working with them. Agreeing to meet a client at a certain place or time limits your ability to change your plans at short notice, which makes it difficult to satisfy the client. Agreeing to meet the client at a certain place or time also gives the client control over the situation. If you want to be in charge, you should deny any plans to meet the client at a specific place and time. The client will not like it when you deny meeting them at their requested time and place, so they will feel even more powerful in the relationship. This is why you should always try and satisfy the client. If you can do so in a way that surprises them, that is even better! For example, if you have organized a business trip to Hong Kong, but the client wants to meet in Taipei, you should not object because it is better to go to Hong Kong than to Taipei, especially if it was not what you planned. You should not agree to meet the client in Taipei, because it will make it harder for you to get back to Hong Kong for your trip. The client will see that as a weakness, so they will try to take advantage of it.

They Are Arrogant

When you are dealing with a difficult client, you are always fighting an uphill battle. The battles that you have with a difficult client are never easy, but you always feel like you are making progress. This is because you are challenging a powerful entity, who is used to getting their way. When you are dealing with a difficult client, you have to remember that they are the expert and you are the novice, simply adapting to what they want. As the saying goes, ‘the more you know, the more you realize how much you do not know’. To create an agreeable relationship with a difficult client, you have to prove that you are better than them by showing that you can satisfy them, even if it is only on a small level. A difficult client always thinks that they are the expert and you are the one who needs help, simply because they are used to getting their own way. To make progress in the relationship, you have to constantly show that you are smarter than them and therefore in a better position to give them advice. The more you know, the more you realize how little you know, and the more you learn from your opponents, the more you can defeat them. Even if you think that you are losing the battle, you are still in the process of winning, because while you are learning, you are also getting smarter and therefore more capable of handling the situation. This is how you prove that you are superior to a difficult client, even if you do not feel that you are at the time. You are not letting the client win, you are proving that you can win, even if you think that they are experts and you are novices. This process of constant learning is one of the reasons why you should engage with a difficult client, even if you think that they are the source of all your problems. The more you know, the more you realize how little you know, and the more you can gain from this situation. Just remember that they are the expert, not you, and you are only helping them, even if they do not see it that way. To them, you are just a person who is making them work that little bit harder, so they can prove to their superiors that they are still in charge. The relationship with a difficult client is never easy, but you will learn so much from the experience, even if it is not what you want to learn at the time.

They Are Controlling

A difficult client will use their power over you to get what they want. They will put you in your place, by making you do what they want. Sometimes this might even seem like harassment. When this happens, you should tell someone you trust about it, so they can help you. The person should not be affiliated with the client, but they should understand how the client is trying to control you. Even if the person you tell does not seem to be affiliated with the client, you should still trust them, because they will not want to see you get hurt, especially if it was not what you wanted. Remember that the client can control what happens to you, simply by giving you bad or unpleasant experiences. If the client is trying to control you in a bad way, you should stand up for yourself and tell them that you do not need to behave in such a manner, because they do not respect you. When the client sees that you do not agree to their control, they will not respect you anyway, so it is better to stand your ground. When the client is in a good mood, and you have done something that pleases them, you will start seeing good behavior from them, simply because you gave them what they wanted. Do not let these good moments go to your head, because you know that they can change at any moment and that you are only seeing the good side of the coin. The client will try and use this control over you to make you do what they want, so be mindful of what happens, and do not give them any room for mistakes. As long as you fear them, you will be controlled by them and will not be able to behave in a spontaneous way, as you would like to. Whenever you sense that the client is controlling you, instead of defending yourself, ask for help from a trusted person, so they can verify whether or not the client is behaving in a legitimate manner. If the person you ask does not seem to be affiliated with the client, even better. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with a powerful entity who has a track record of getting what they want, by any means necessary. This is why you should never give a difficult client any advantages, except for the ones that you know for sure they have earned. For example, if you are traveling and you see that the traffic is bad, there is no reason to give the client the information you have about the roadblocks. If you do not want them to control you, do not help them in any way. By giving them information, you are saying that you agree that they can control you, simply by knowing what you do. Even if what you do is not in their interest, it will always be in your interest to help them, simply because they can still hurt you, even if they do not show it. The moment you give them the information, you are saying that you trust them. Even if you think that they are not going to do anything bad, simply giving them this information gives them a sense of accomplishment, because they have ‘controlling’ someone who does not agree to give them what they want. This is why you should never give a difficult client any advantages, as they will always try and take advantage of you, if they can.

When preparing a strategy to deal with difficult clients, it’s essential to consider the unique challenges this type of customer poses. It might require a little more effort to convince these types of customers that your business is legitimate, that you’re a safe option, and that you can be trusted. To do this, you will need to establish an initial connection with the customer, establish trust, and secure the sale. In many ways, dealing with difficult clients is similar to attracting and retaining more loyal customers. While this might seem easy enough, the truth is that there are many pitfalls that you, as a business owner, need to watch out for. In the next section, we’ll discuss some of these pitfalls so that you can stay protected and continue providing excellent customer service as you gain experience.

Don’t Forget The Little Things

One of the things that make customers difficult is that they expect you to remember their small idiosyncrasies. For example, someone might expect you to honor an incorrect order or forget to send them a confirmation email. The small things that your customers forget can add up to a lot of aggravation in the long run. To prevent this, establish a standard operating procedure for each task and follow it regardless of the situation. This will ensure that the little things don’t accumulate and cause problems later on. Remember-the-small-things mentality keeps customers and clients. When you remember and act on little things, the result is usually good—even if it’s just a 5% increase in satisfaction. While it’s great that you’re paying attention to the details, it’s essential that you don’t get so absorbed in the minutiae that you neglect the larger picture. In many ways, this is similar to creating a strategy for excellent customer service- remember that at the end of the day, you’re providing a service that everyone needs and, as long as you continue providing this, you’ll keep your customers.

Be Genuine

Another crucial point to make is that you must be genuine and consistent. If you’re not sure what this means, consider this-while everyone else is scrambling to appear authentic, you must act and feel like a genuine business owner, manager, or employee. Once you establish this baseline, you can begin to examine the details of your customers’ inquiries and complaints. In doing this, you’ll be able to see if you’re acting and feeling like who you want to be-a genuine business owner, manager, or employee.

Look At What You Lack

To really understand what makes customers difficult, it’s helpful to examine what you lack. This will help you see your weaknesses and work on fixing them. If you want to improve customer service, it’s a good idea to examine your own mindset and find the areas where you’re weak. For example, if you want to increase your sales, try and see what you’re doing that’s holding you back. Looking at your own shortcomings can help you understand the rationale behind why some customers are difficult and how you, as a business owner, can best handle these types of situations.

Dealing With Negative Reviews

Once you’ve determined that there is a threat to your business, the next step is to take care of the problem. In the case of negative reviews, this usually means addressing the issue directly with the reviewer (providing them with better service, as appropriate) and undoing the damage as much as possible. If possible, it might also mean apologizing for the original offense and asking them to consider your business in the future. When possible, it’s always best to take a proactive stance and engage with customers who have an issue with your business. In these situations, it’s not always easy to know what to say or do, but you’ll be better off if you try and make the customer feel like they’ve been heard.

Why Do Some People And Clients Feel Threatened By Your Excellent Service?

Even when you’re providing excellent customer service, there will always be some who feel threatened by your success. Sometimes it may be a matter of pride (they feel like they can’t live up to your standards) or sometimes it might be a matter of jealousy (they feel like you’re stealing away their customers). Regardless of the motivation, when a client or customer has a negative experience with your business, it can affect their opinion of you and your company. This becomes even more apparent when we consider the power of the word of mouth marketing. If someone tells a friend or colleague that your service is terrible, it can damage your reputation even when you’ve done everything right.

Even in this day and age, when people are more likely to disclose their bad experience online than in person, there is still a great deal of distrust and fear associated with negative reviews. The rise of social media has made it significantly easier to discover and publicize any kind of bad experience. While there are some benefits to this, it also means that there is much more noise online than there is signal. 

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