Before a freelancer agrees to a new project, there are certain questions to ask clients. It doesn’t matter if this is the first project or the twentieth project the freelancer is starting for a client. It doesn’t matter if this is the freelancer’s first project or if the freelancer has been freelancing for decades. The right questions will give guidelines for a successful and smooth working procedure. It removes any potential misunderstandings or confusion that may occur between the freelancer and the client.
Even if the project description sounds great, ask these five questions to clarify the details about the project. These details are essential for a freelancer to complete the project the way the client intended and envision the required results.
What is the Expected Deadline for the Project?
Two important factors influence the deadline of a project from the client’s perspective.
- The client has an expected deadline for the project. It may be an idea in his head based on his skills and expertise in this specific field, an estimate he calculated, or an expected deadline based on the needs of the business. A client who has worked on a similar project before will have a realistic timeframe. If this is the first time the client will embark on such a project or outsource to a freelancer, the estimated time frame may not be as realistic.
- The project is often part of a larger strategic plan and is one of the numerous puzzle pieces. The starting date of the project could depend on the completion of other assignments or projects. The project may be the trigger for another project or a series of projects. It means the timeline and deadline for this specific project influences everything that follows it and the project is influenced by the completion date of its predecessor.
The reason behind the expected deadline determines how flexible the timeline and due date for the project is. You as the freelancer can help create a realistic deadline by suggesting a timeframe based on his experience on similar projects.
If the deadline is fixed because of the larger plan, then you must be certain that you can complete the project within that timeframe. Two important questions a freelancer should consider are:
- Is it feasible to complete this project within the timeframe given? If not, discuss a more realistic timeframe with the client.
- Are you available during that time to work on the project? If you aren’t available to complete the project within the expected timeframe, discuss it with the client. Sometimes the client can move the project deadline to benefit all parties, especially if the client is eager to work you specifically.
With a clear timeline, the project can be broken into smaller milestones with interim deadlines. It helps to keep track of the project, to detect potential delays sooner, and to solve potential issues along the way.
Tip: Calculate your own estimated time frame before discussing deadlines with the client. Then you won’t find yourself in a situation where you promised a delivery date that can’t be met.
What are the Project Goals?
As mentioned before, a project isn’t free standing; it is part of the overall business strategy. There is a reason why the client wants a project or assignment done. Ask the client what the goal is, what he wants to accomplish with the project.
- Does the client want to improve the business’ online presence?
- Does the client want to generate more leads?
- Does the client want to increase sales on a specific product or brand?
Knowing the goal enables you to work toward a specific end that is more than just completing the project. With the end goal in mind, you can ignore irrelevant things that won’t help accomplish the goals. For example. If the project entails finding new skincare products, a product resourcing freelancer can easily fulfill the project needs by sourcing five new products that fit into the client’s brand. Knowing, however, that the project goal is the initial step to expand the target market to male skin care products, focuses the search for more specific projects that will help meet that goal. Now the freelancer knows what type of products to focus on and which ones to discard.
What is the Preferred Communication Method and Frequency?
Communication is vital to any freelancer-client relationship. Establish the communication method and frequency in the beginning during the initial interview.
With social media platforms, smartphones, and internet, there are various methods to communicate with clients worldwide. Most people have a communication preference, however, that fits their schedule and lifestyle. Find out what the client prefers and go with that as much as possible – it makes working together much smoother.
Some of the common communication tools are:
- Skype chat, audio or video call
- Facebook messages
- Free Conference Call
- WhatsApp (mobile)
- Viber (mobile)
Tip: In the initial introduction letter or proposal to the client, include various ways the client can contact you. A selection gives the client the opportunity to choose his preferred communication method. Don’t forget to ask if he has other suggestions for channels that you may be able to use.
Many businesses outsource to freelancers all over the world. If you’re working in a different time zone than the client, let the client know what the difference in time is. Different time zones are often beneficial for the client’s business, e.g. call centers that function 24 hours per day. When communicating directly with the client, however, make sure what times are convenient for the client and if those times are feasible for you as well.
How often the client expects feedback and reports from the freelancer is also important. Some clients want daily check-ins. There are certain projects that require constant feedback. Then some clients only want to hear from a freelancer when the task or assignment is completed or when problems or changes occur. Establish a feedback routine at the beginning of the project.
How Often do you Hire Freelancers? How Has it Worked Out for You?
If it is the first time a client is outsourcing, then the freelancer should guide the client through the process. Tell the client what to expect from you as the freelancer and talk about what you need from the client.
Lead the client through the process. Supply the client with the information he needs, irrespective if he is asking the right questions or not.
If the client has outsourced before, ask about the experience. It will indicate to the freelancer what is important to the client in the freelancer-client relationship. It also indicates what the client doesn’t like and the dynamics the client is comfortable with when outsourcing projects.
More Questions to Ask Clients about a Project
- Are there any potential stumbling blocks? The client may not volunteer this kind of information. If the freelancer knows about certain potential issues, the freelancer can be on the lookout for them and provide a possible solution.
- What is the budget for the project? For a project that requires copywriting or web designing, the budget allocated to the project is important. It will determine the end product. Freelancers hired at hourly rates to capture data or perform accounting functions are not as concerned about the project budget. The budget, however, will influence the number of hours the client will hire the freelancer. It is good practice to clarify the estimated hours before the project starts.
- Who is the contact person? The person who interviews the freelancer is not necessarily the person the freelancer will communicate with and report to.
- Who is the target market? Depending on the project, knowing who buys or interacts with the product may be essential information to work on and complete the project.
These questions aren’t the only questions freelancers can ask clients. There are other questions more relevant to the specific field of expertise and industry.
Compose Questions for Your Line of Work
Create a list of standard questions to ask clients before accepting the next project. Make a list appropriate to the industry you work in and the project types you typically deal with. For example, as a web developer, it is essential to know who the target market is and what the product you’re working with is. As a copywriter, you need to know if keywords are provided or if the client expects you to do research. If you are not SEO-savvy, this needs to be made clear right from the start.
Establish the estimated hours each task or assignment requires. Calculate the lowest and highest rate for each considering the skills, expertise, project type, and industry.
Have a section with the essential questions to ask and information to provide a client for any project to run smoothly. Use the above 5 questions as a reference.
Create a second section with questions that are relevant to specific projects, tasks, and assignments. For example. For a blog post, the freelancer needs to know the topic, the number of words, and the keywords. For a sales page, the details of the project and prospect are more important. For both tasks, the due date, rate, and project goal are essential.
If you want more projects but don’t enjoy cold prospecting for clients, find out how the FreeeUp Marketplace can help you find the perfect project and client.
Retha Groenewald is a web copywriter and published author. Her versatile background gives her the freedom to write for the B2B and B2C market. Her writing is featured at Christian Web Copywriter and at Writing That Breathes Life.