After you onboard a new client, give yourself a pat on the back. Most of the time, reeling in a customer requires heavy lifting: sample work, extensive emails, important negotiations, and lots of stress. Unlike a job interview process for a new employee, independent contractors take on new companies all the time, but that doesn’t make the process any easier.
Integrating some simple strategies can strengthen your onboarding game and save you time in the long-run. Check out our golden advice for contractors working with new companies:
Share Your Process
Each independent contractor has their own process for beginning a project. Instead of following a client’s lead, lay out your preferred steps. Not only will you impress your client with your preparedness, you maintain continuity in your own work across a wide range of projects. If you’re looking for a better way to collaborate, try using a project management tool like Trello or Asana for seamless collaboration.
Watch for Red Flags
Keep your eyes peeled for any potential roadblocks. Last year, I noticed during multiple conversations with a potential client that he refused to discuss payment. When I tried to raise the issue for the third time, he said my rates “worked in theory but not in practice.” Given the lack of clarity, I backed out of the project and avoided a mess!
Name Your Price First
Research suggests that you’re better off during a negotiation if you state your price first. Even if your pitch is way above your customer’s budget, it “anchors” the conversation, increasing the final settlement price.
Ask A Lot of Questions
Never make assumptions about what your clients want. Prepare questions in advance to help you understand the end goals of a new company, always with your own success in mind. Make sure to let your client know you will continue to reach out for clarification as needed throughout the project — a launch is only the beginning.
Substantiate Your Cost
When you’re a freelancer, you also work in business development, sales, and account management. You need to get comfortable pitching the full extent of your work and the advantages of your services. When I quote potential clients, I make sure to frame my own strengths and qualifications. I emphasize that I not only deliver well-crafted content, I also bring strong research skills, and professional copyediting to every project.
Reread your emails with a new company to make sure that you are being really clear. When possible, over-communicate your message. If you find client language that works well for you, save it as a template in an Evernote notebook.
Set Office Hours
New clients often require extra attention until you sink into a rhythm. That’s normal, but some companies may have extreme expectations about your availability — set clear office hours and maintain strong boundaries. If you work across time zones, communicate your available hours, and stick to them.
Always Track Your Time
Even if you don’t charge an hourly rate, you still need to know how much time you’re allocating to a client. Investing too many hours into a project loses you money, so create a time limit. This practice also helps with accountability and keeps procrastination at bay!
When you onboard a new client, tell them about Payable. The platform helps you cut through freelancer fees, increasing the value of your work.