If you were the owner of a company and someone brazenly tells you that they can redesign your website in order to drive sales higher, would you instantly believe them?
That same person will also say you need to pay them a certain amount, sign a contract and turn over the credentials of your website, basically giving them carte blanche.
You would probably laugh at them or walk away without giving them another thought.
This is somehow similar to how freelancers get clients. We offer them ways to make their life easier and improve their business without having to incur a lot of overhead expenses, such as needed in an office or any business location that they have to manage. The trade-off is that they need to trust us with their business, including sensitive information.
In this situation, trust plays a vital role between the two parties and once it is broken, the chances of regaining that tenuous connection can be harder than going through a Harvard college application.
You only need to read or hear about freelancer-client relations that have been irreparably damaged and you will tremble at the thought of losing that possible substantial contract.
Trust does not start and stop at the agreement to do a certain job. It has to be sustained throughout and your client has to feel satisfied with the experience at the end of the day. A successful and healthy relationship with your clients will go a long way towards cementing your career as a freelancer.
How do you foster trust when the client has not met you face to face?
You don’t kiss someone at first meeting so don’t expect your client to get chummy with you during the initial encounter, whether through a phone call, email or a video conference. Cracking jokes may break the ice but it can also convey the wrong note; that you are not as serious about the job as they want you to be. This is a crucial time in your relationship with the client so you need to be confident but also portray suitable conduct.
Don’t do shortcuts
You don’t give trust lightly and neither should you expect it from clients with just the bare minimum of effort on your part. Each interaction that you have will strengthen your relationship, so try to give a little more each day and go beyond their expectations. Show them that you were worth the risk they took of going with a freelancer.
Consistency is essential
You may not be the best in the industry (yet) but if you’re reliable, efficient and provides consistent results, your clients will be happy to stay with you and recommend you to their friends and colleagues. When you stray from what they’ve come to expect, it will brand you as an amateur rather than an expert in your field.
Even if you work in your pajamas, whenever your clients ask for a video conference, take the time to dress up in a professional manner, as if you are going to their office. Respect is still gained not demanded.
When you send an email, edit and proofread it to ensure that there will be no mistakes, if possible and that the words are clear and concise. A haphazardly composed email will tell your client that you’re lazy and not worth their money.
Freelancing can be a lucrative career if you play your cards right. Clients have issues that they need a solution for and you’re the one who can offer the answer to their problems. The question is, will they choose and stay with you?