How To Manage a Freelance Project in 5 Steps
For any freelance project, every aspect, from the moment you come to an agreement with the client, to the final delivery of the work, should be clear, mutually agreed and firmly documented in the written agreement you signed with your client.
Unfortunately, not all the freelancers have a very well documented procedure for every project and many times they get lost in misunderstandings, or worse, tricked by dishonest clients. This is why we put together these guidelines to help you devise a clear system that protects your interests and enables you to approach every project in a professional manner.
How to Draw a Freelancing Contract
A contract is the written agreement between you and your client and must include all the relevant aspects of your business relations: the services you will provide for the client, the rights and obligations that you and the client have during your collaboration, the price, term of delivery and, if applicable, confidentiality clauses.
Here is a very clear explanation of the main aspects that you should include in your freelancing contract: Freelance Contract Preparation However, please keep in mind that the form and wording of contracts varies from country to country, so you should consult a lawyer in preparing the contract for your freelance project.
Always Have a Creative Brief Ready
The creative brief is a short presentation of the project scope and your approach for it. It is attached as appendix to the contract and it is used as reference any time you are in doubt whether the client’s requests are covered by your agreement.
The creative brief is your weapon against abusive clients. And that is why it is so important to prepare it clearly, without possibilities of interpretation, and bearing your client’s signature. Any time you realize that you are led into extra work, refer to the creative brief and explain to the client that you are happy to do the work, for an extra fee.
Keep the Client Permanently Informed
Most disagreements in relation to clients start from lack of communication. The client thinks you do one thing, while you are doing another thing, and when you finally present the rough draft, it is not what the client expected. Or he meant to make some changes (within scope), which were very easy to perform at the beginning of the work process, but now you need to change a lot of things.
The best practice is to send your clients updates on your work every few days. Not every day, because you don’t want to look like a pupil asking for the teacher’s approval, but every 3 days, have your client look at your work in progress. Or, just after you make an important addition to the project.
Working with milestones is great, especially for large projects. Set up a schedule for each phase of the project, and make sure the client approves it before you move on to the next phase.
Ask for Feedback
Some clients will tell you openly if they love or hate your design. Others will keep quiet, because it’s their nature to wait till the very end, or because they are busy and never find the time to comment on what you showed them. And this is why you should take the initiative to ask for a feedback. You can set a face to face meeting with the client, or send an email, or chat by Skype. But don’t let time go and don’t move to the completion phase without making sure that the client is happy with your work.
Be open to ideas – as long as the client does not dictate how to do your work. But an old saying is that two minds think better than just one and it is very true. You should be in a collaborative relation with your client – this is one of your qualities as a freelancer. Big companies are very strict in dealing with clients and freelancers are sought especially by people looking for a friendly approach to work.
Make Your Work In Progress Accessible to the Client
Set up a cloud storage account where you keep you upload your work in progress and share it with your client. In this way, you can both add observations, discuss over the design even from distance. Virtual file storage is a great aid for you when you take up work for international clients. Face to face meetings are generally excluded, so cloud storage is your only option to keep your client informed and receive feedback.
A word of warning, though. Cloud storage is not 100% safe, even for premium subscription packages, so make sure you do not keep any confidential information there. Make sure you agree with your client what cloud storage service you use and set up security protocols (frequency of changing passwords, who has access to the account, etc.) to ensure the safety of the information and documents you store there.
If you make sure to follow these 5 easy steps, you will have a good, friendly relation with your client and establish your reputation as an earnest professional. Of course, there are many other tips for best practices in freelancing, and we are looking forward to your personal ideas and experiences in managing a freelance project.
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