For me, the most important part when I freelance is creating a positive work relationship with my client. Not only does the work become more enjoyable for both parties, but I am able to ask my client in the future for referrals or a testimonial.
Here are 3 principles that have helped me become a freelancer that (I think) clients love working with.
In my opinion, communication is the most important aspect of any professional relationship, much less a freelance one. Communication helps everyone stay on the same page, which significantly decreases the chances a person will be negatively surprised by something.
Several ways I like to communicate:
- I schedule a call with my clients once a week to ensure they are happy with the direction of my work
- I use a task tracking system (e.g. GitHub Issues, Trello, Phabricator), so that the client doesn't have to contact me to see my progress
- I am extremely responsive over email, and will always respond within 12 hours (sometimes even just to say that I will respond with more detail in a week)
Solid communication tools
2. Produce for the client, not for yourself
Before I start work on a project, I always try to get a sense of my my client's priorities. Some care about user experience, some care about performance, some want to launch as soon as possible. Whatever the client's goals are, I am comfortable adapting my style to them.
For me, it has been important to remember to disregard my own preferences (see next section). It's unproductive for both sides if I spend too much time working on something that the client does not value.
3. Offer suggestions, but be prepared to defer
Even when my opinion is not directly asked for, I always like to offer my perspective. One of a freelancer's greatest values is his or her previous experiences, and that insight can be extremely valuable to a client without similar experiences.
Since I have worked with many early-stage startups, my insight regarding deciding whether to build a feature vs. using a workaround has been especially helpful. For example, my last client wanted to build a email system, but I suggested that Mailchimp could get him 90% there for his use case. He definitely appreciated the idea, which saved him both time and money.
However, in cases of disagreement, there's no point in putting up a fight. The project is the client's, and they always get the final say.
Hope these tips have been useful and will help you build great freelance relationships! Feel free to reach out with any thoughts, or if you want to work with me 😁.