5 Tips for Web Developers and Designers Working with Clients for the First Time

The freelance landscape is promising for developers and designers alike, especially given the rise of remote work over recent years. If you’re looking to break away from a traditional company and go the solo route, there’s perhaps no better time than now.

That being said, sometimes completing projects on a freelance basis can be somewhat frustrating. After all, when you’re working under someone else, the seemingly minute details of what clients want are usually taken care of by a higher-up or manager. However, when you’re doing all of the heavy lifting yourself, you may run into some unexpected snags.

So, what are some expectations you should have if you’re working on a freelance basis for the first time? Consider the following five tips for starters to keep yourself sane and profitable as a freelance developer or designer.

Keep Your Client’s Assets Safe

Completing client work on a freelance basis requires a certain degree of trust first and foremost. For example, companies must take steps to lock down their assets; however, they may need to provide you with access to their log-ins to complete your project. Make sure to keep your clients’ information under lock and key and don’t leave your own work vulnerable to a potential security snafu.

Be Crystal Clear

Effectively completing a project requires a two-way street of communication. That is, your client needs to be clear about what they want and, likewise, you need to be clear in terms of how you run your business. For example, you need to clearly outline

  • How the long the project should be expected to take
  • When you expect to be paid for the project (for example, you may want to ask for something upfront)
  • What you’re actually doing in terms of the work itself (for example, just because you’re designing a client’s website doesn’t mean you should be expected to write the copy for it as well)

Ask Questions

As a freelance designer or developer, asking questions is somewhat of a balancing act. While you certainly want to get as much information out of your clients as possible before you get started, you also don’t want to overwhelm them or seem needy.

Try your best to outline your expectations and have your clients do the same. Ideally, you should speak to them in person or through a phone call versus an endless email chain. By asking the right questions verbally, you can get more answered in a short amount of time and make sure that nothing is lost in translation.

Quality > Quantity

Don’t try to rush as much work as possible as means of growing your business. Freelance developers and designers live and die by positive results and client testimonials: one truly satisfied client that provides you with high-quality referrals and ongoing projects will always trump a dozen clients that are less-than-crazy about your quality of work.

Charge a Fair Rate

Don’t sell yourself short: developers and designers represent highly skilled professionals. Therefore, make sure that you’re charging a fair rate per project which is both competitive but also keeps you afloat financially. Do some homework on the standard rate for freelance projects in your industry: while you shouldn’t needlessly charge a fortune, taking on cheap assignments to pay the rent will quickly burn you out.

There’s nowhere to go but up for freelance developers and designers who can keep their clients happy. With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll be more likely to expand your business and improve your relationship with future clients over time.

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