New Creative? The Art of Building healthy Client Relationships | 5 Tips

Hey Everyone!

this post was inspired by my weekly WhatsApp groups. So many new entrepreneurs! exciting times. I thought I’d write up a quick guide to how to start building and managing client relationships as a freelance creative. Here are a few tips to to help you establish great client relationships that start and end well. 

If you haven’t dealt directly with clients before, you might be wondering where to begin. You might be scared or afraid to charge for the things you do!  Look at it like this. You both have goals and deadlines to meet. They need you. You need them. It’s mutually beneficial if everyone fulfills their end of the bargain. Here are five tips to help you do just that.  

 

I. PUT IT IN A CONTRACT

Many freelancers choose an informal style of contract, such as a letter of agreement, which sets out who has agreed to do what, and when. Some even go off of a verbal agreement where there is no written document and they work off of “vibes” and “energy”. I used to prefer this route in most cases but it has proven to be quite risky! A contract helps to make things clear and sets the tone for expectations. 

Putting a practical contract in place is a great way to set up a relationship and give yourself some extra peace of mind. It doesn’t need to be super-complicated or long, and you almost certainly don’t need a lawyer. Statement of work is another kind of contract which is popular with design and creative professionals. It goes into a little bit more detail about how you’ll tackle things like amends, payments and intellectual property rights etc. 

As a creative, you should set these documents up in advance if you can, using a standard template that you can tweak and amend for new jobs as they arise.

II. COMMUNICATE

Keep your client in the loop with regular updates. You don’t have to give them a play by play as they have trusted you with the work enough to hire you but a weekly to bi-weekly update is great for longer term projects. 

  • what you are doing
  • what you plan to do next
  • anything you’re going to need from them, such as feedback 

There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that it saves your client the effort of checking in with you and keeping things moving along. Another is that it prompts them to tell you about any changes or plans that could affect your work. It could even lead to them thinking of you for additional projects, as you’ll be at the front of their mind. it also builds trust. Go to them before they have to come to you. This one I wrote specifically for social media account managers and brand ambassadors. 

III. PLAN PAYMENTS

Don’t forget your moolah. I think its very important to establish how you’ll be paid. Don’t wait until all the work is done before you provide your account number. Also establish how and when you will be paid. If you like all of your money upfront then say so. If you require half up front, then say so. If it is free; then say so. 

For some companies, it’s typical to pay invoices within 30 days, and for others it’s 60. Some don’t have a fixed policy. But don’t be afraid to say what you want. 

 

IV. NO FEAR THE MONEY TALK(S)

Negotiating prices, providing quotes and making sure you’re paid fairly for the work you do is a fundamental part of being self-employed. It can also be one of the most daunting areas for first-time freelancers, but it becomes much easier once you’ve made a few key decisions.

One of the first things to do is establish your rates, whether they’re hourly or by the day. Compare notes with other freelancers in your field if possible, or check out sites like Upwork, which shows rates for many freelancers in a range of fields, or freelancer.com, which gives you an idea what companies are prepared to pay for specific jobs. Once you’ve decided on your rates, you can use them to price your work and negotiate with your potential clients.

It’s also a good idea to think about whether you want to work on a project or a time-and-materials basis.

  • With project-based costs, you charge a set amount which is agreed at the outset. This is a good way for clients to make sure they’re working within their budgets. But it needs to be accompanied by a clear statement of work to make sure you don’t get asked to do extras that aren’t covered by your original costs.
  • Time and materials means you keep track of the work you’ve done and bill the client on a regular basis until work is complete. This kind of billing is good for projects that change as they go along, or for work with an unpredictable schedule. It requires a bit of extra admin in tracking your hours, but it means you won’t be out of pocket if there’s more work than expected

either way you dice it, be clear and have no fear to talk about money.

 

 

V. DON’T VANISH WHEN THE JOB IS COMPLETE

Ok you’re super excited for the project to be over or you wish it were longer. Hopefully you can celebrate a job well done! If you’ve done a good job, they may well want to hire you again. But the chances are they’ll move on to new things quickly, and won’t always remember you unless you make the effort to stay in touch. Keep things light. you can drop a line every couple of months reminding them of new services or creative endeavors you may be into. Don’t let them forget you!

#EverythingNaArt

36 Comments

  • Reply
    Labake
    January 2, 2019 at 4:04 am

    I just started out my business and I honestly fret now and again when I have to send in messages to remind prospective clients on their pending order and also negotiating prices. Thank you so much for this post, I am implementing it immediately.

  • Reply
    Minella
    September 30, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I’m so guilty of vanishing.. I’ve been doing everything wrong!!! Thanks for this Amin ?

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      October 1, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Keep in touch with them! thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    michael
    September 20, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    thanks you much the last one got me #theycantandwontforgetme lol thanks

  • Reply
    Halimasucre
    September 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    “They need you, you need them! Go to them! Don’t Varnish” ! Thanks for sharing this very insightful piece??

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      That’s right!!!!

      • Reply
        everythingnaart
        September 20, 2018 at 3:53 pm

        Beautiful!

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 5:56 pm

      yes its a mutually beneficial relationship

  • Reply
    Chinny
    September 20, 2018 at 10:57 am

    I’m calling this ‘An Entrepreneur’s Blueprint to winning in Business!’ I legit had chills after reading, whipped out my computer and sent those long due emails!

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      yessssss

  • Reply
    Olaoluwa Sofowora
    September 20, 2018 at 8:18 am

    This was such an important read. I’m sharing it with my freelancer friends who complain about similar issues like being paid little compared to the amount of work they put into projects. Great job

  • Reply
    Olaoluwa Sofowora
    September 20, 2018 at 8:11 am

    This was a very important read. I’m sharing it with some of my freelancer friends who have similar complaints of poor payments compared with the amount of work they put in. Great job.

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      awesome!

  • Reply
    Tami
    September 20, 2018 at 5:58 am

    I do fear the money talk. But constantly learning not to. Thanks for this Amin, it’ll be really helpful as I move forward.

  • Reply
    Toke
    September 20, 2018 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for this, it’s very helpful

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:44 am

      You’re welcome Toke! I’m glad it helped!

  • Reply
    Nayonde
    September 20, 2018 at 1:12 am

    Enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing as always

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      you are very welcome. thank you for reading it!

  • Reply
    Uche (selfmadeuch)
    September 19, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    You dropped a lot of gems in this post Amin… I used to shy away from the money talk back when i didn’t really see much value in the services i provide as a creative which has led clients to paying me little than i deserve… But i learnt my lesson this and let clients who don’t see much value or are plain greedy just go because i do the money talks and get half payment upfront in most cases before getting to the job. What’s for me will never pass me by.

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:45 am

      Yes! Let them go! If it’s yours it’s yours!

  • Reply
    Adaeze
    September 19, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Very Insightful post! ??

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:45 am

      Thanks Ada!

  • Reply
    Enoabasi
    September 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

    I can’t emphasise the importance to reach out before they look for you. It’s a sign of progress.
    Plus it’s not hard to keep in touch anymore. Automated “Hello x, I hope the job I did is still in order. Etc, etc.” and you’re good to go.

    Great content as always #ENA

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:45 am

      Yes that’s the trust factor. Most people are hiring you to take the stress off not to add to it!

  • Reply
    Anita James
    September 19, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for ge tips. I learnt the hard way with clients taking so long in processing my invoice

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:46 am

      Yes make sure you discuss payment terms in advance Anita!

  • Reply
    Idowu Kukoyi
    September 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

    This is a very necessary read! I have recently become a freelancer (working in TV) and have had to really scraped being timid when it come to talking and negotiation my rate!

    Still a process!

    Beautifully written, Going to read again and take notes

    Thanks Amin

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:46 am

      Thanks again love! I appreciate it! You got this idowu!

  • Reply
    Ms Towseen
    September 19, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Points 2 (Communicate) and 5 (Dont vanish) are speaking directly to me.

    These points are very important for building and managing ANY type of client relationship, not only as a freelance creative. 

    Thanks for sharing Amin

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Yes! We always forget that steady income can come from freelancing if you are consistent before and after the job!

  • Reply
    Fikunayomi
    September 19, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Great writing, I learnt a lot from it!

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Thanks. Glad you did Fikun!

  • Reply
    Akosua Shirley
    September 19, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I’m so guilty of vanishing after work is done! N I hate Money y’all but man for chop so thank you!!! I’ll do better

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Lmao please do better chale!

  • Reply
    Veronique
    September 18, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you for the tips above Amin. They seem straightforward yet many of us usually fall short or just freeze when the situation arises. Every entrepreneur should have this post at arms reach if you ask me.

    • Reply
      everythingnaart
      September 20, 2018 at 4:48 am

      You’re welcome!

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