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This is Day 18 of 31 Days to Start a Freelancing Business (or Make Yours a Better One). If you want to catch up, click here to read Day 1.
Yesterday, you finished writing the seven essential pages for your freelance website. Today, you’re going to create templates that will help you systematize communicating with your clients.
In the beginning, you may have all the time in the world to craft each piece of communication with prospective and current clients from scratch. But believe me, the time will come when you’ll be grateful you did this task when you had time to do it.
What Templates Do You Need?
You’re going to be creating templates for communicating with your clients. These templates should include:
- project proposal/bid/quotation
- terms of agreement or a contract
- submission of completed project
- request for feedback
Tools to Use
You can use any word processing software for these templates. If you don’t want to buy word processing software, OpenOffice.org provides open-source (read: free) software for word processing, spreadsheet, and even presentation.
When I was starting out, I used Google Docs. Eventually, I moved on to Pages, which is bundled with Apple iWork. When I started making money consistently, I invested in an online accounting service called LessAccounting.
I like Less Accounting rather than more popular services for freelancers, because Less Accounting lets me create proposals, turn these into invoices, track payments, record expenses and churn out reports for my accountant come tax time. I’ll be talking about invoicing and accounting in more detail in a future post.
Your templates don’t need to be fancy in terms of the layout. Use your business name and logo, if you have one. Otherwise, your name will suffice.
Basic Principles of Client Communication
When you prepare your templates, keep these basic communication principles in mind:
- Be professional. You don’t need to be stiff and formal, but don’t use colloquial terms, either. Even if your prospect is a friend or acquaintance, make it clear in your communication that this is a commercial transaction.
- Be extremely detailed, specific and clear. You can avoid a lot of miscommunication by making sure that expectations are clearly spelled out. By this I mean, what the client can expect from you (such as outputs and deadlines), as well as what you expect from your client (for instance, prompt replies to your queries and timely payment).
- Be positive. Always be gracious in your communication. It never hurts to say “thank you” – all the time. Even when you’re demanding something from you client, you can state it in a positive way. One way to do this is to always state things in terms of how your client will benefit from fulfilling your request. For instance, “I need your response by tomorrow so I can submit the first draft on Tuesday.”
- Double-check and then check again for accuracy. Before sending out anything to your client, read and re-read and then read the piece again. Make sure everything is accurate: the client’s name, company name, contact details, project details, deadlines, rates and other details.
Take the half-hour or so today to create your templates. You’ll be glad you have them when you’re receiving so many inquiries that you can barely cope 😉
What did you think of today’s task? Let us know by posting a comment below.