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Sometimes, the cause of freelancing mistakes lies in forgetting to ask the right questions.
I know this because it has often happened to me, whether I’m applying as a contractor for a project or I’m the one hiring others to work with me. Asking these questions, no matter how simple or common they might be, makes you better prepared to take on a project. Plus, they show your client that you go the extra mile.
So what are these questions and why should we ask them?
What is this for? A few years ago, I made the mistake of accepting a seemingly simple request from a client to write articles about bathroom cleaning tips. I did the project with a slant on using homemade cleansers, not knowing that what the client wanted was to incorporate the use of commercially available products into the article. In the end I had to redo the entire job.
Some projects only look simple on the surface, but they turn out to be more layered than you think once you ask your client what they intend to accomplish with your work.
Will we be working together on this project? I’ve had a couple of instances where a contractor would assume that we’ve sealed the deal even without mutually signing a contract or me giving them the “Go!” signal. One of them even got angry because he cleared his entire schedule for two weeks expecting that I would hire him for the project.
Most clients would be looking at the portfolios, resumes, and applications of several freelancers before committing to one. Unless it is stated clearly, you cannot be sure that you will be chosen. Other ways to phrase this would be “Would you like me to start this project?” or “Do we have a deal?”. Of course, don’t get started on anything without the actual contracts signed.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how did I do? It’s best to ask this for each aspect of the services you provide including the quality of your final output, customer support, and an overall rating. This gives you an idea of how successful you were at meeting a client’s expectations.
If you didn’t get a perfect 10 in some areas, it’s best to follow this up with “What could I have done to get a 10?” This shows your client that you are constantly pushing yourself to improve with each project.
Is there anything else I can do for you? I make this question a mandatory part of my final email once I’ve sent in my final output and I’ve received full payment. It never hurts to ask this, and it might even give you a few unexpected projects from satisfied clients.
How has my output affected your business so far? You should ask this question a week or a month after you’ve completed the project. In fact, if you’ve provided services that have long term effect (such as a website design, online ad design, or an ebook) you might want to contact your clients every few months to ask this very question.
If your work had very little effect on your client’s business, propose to find alternative or added solutions that will help them reach their goal. This isn’t necessarily about upselling, it’s about caring for your clients enough to provide them with solutions that truly work.
What has your experience been like when it comes to asking – or forgetting to ask – these questions? Do you have any questions to add to this list?