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6 tips to help tech freelancers build a client base

Sarah K. White | Jan. 4, 2017
Freelancing is a great opportunity to be your own boss and create a flexible schedule. These six tips will help you build a reliable client base.

Over communicate

As a freelancer, you won't have the advantage of being in-office or having an established relationship with your new clients. That means you should over communicate to save everyone's time; you don't want to find yourself spending hours revising your hard work because you didn't understand their corporate culture.

"Clarify everything by asking questions. It is always better to ask 10 questions and get the job done right, than spend 100 hours working on something that isn't what was asked for," says Pearson.

Consider a test project before you sign on for a long-term project, says Pearson. It's a great way to make sure you and the potential client are a good fit, before too much time or money is invested.

Interview your clients

When you ditched the corporate treadmill, you might have thought your days of interviewing were over. Unfortunately, even as a freelancer, you still have to go through interviews, but the process is a little different. You'll be interviewing the client just as much as they'll be interviewing you. Because you want every client to fit in with your growing portfolio of work, so it's important to weed out projects that aren't a good fit early on.

"Make sure you understand what they're looking for. If you get a feeling that it's not going to be the right match, don't take the project. A work relationship needs to be a fit from both sides so including an initial interview process that helps both parties make an informed decision is critical," says Pearson.

Interviewing new clients can also give you more insight into what type of project they will need, and how you should bill them for your time. Falstad says you might find that with some clients, an hourly approach is best, while for others, you might want to charge a flat fixed rate. In some cases, if you can sense a client will be high-maintenance, you might want to up your fee from the get go. Whereas with clients who are easy to work with and offer flexibility, you might want to charge them a lower rate.

"I always remind people to be up front with pricing and make it clear when payment is expected to begin. It is worth the time to acquire sample agreements so you're ready to fire off a work-for-hire agreement when the time comes and not have to scramble," he says.

 

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