One the hardest things you have to do if you are a freelancer is to set boundaries with your clients. This is very difficult for both new freelancers and experienced business owners because you want to be there for your clients. You want to go above and beyond, but you also need time for yourself or even for other clients.
When it comes to client boundaries, it’s important to set them before you break them. It’s very hard to enforce them when you are already midway through a project so you should discuss this with your clients before you start working on their project.
Some of these boundaries should be included in the contract, while the others could be included in the welcome email. And it doesn’t hurt to remind your clients about them every now and then.
Here are 10 client boundaries you should set as a freelancer:
Set office hours
One of the best things about working from home is that you can set your own office hours. Some freelancers like to start working in the morning, while others are night owls. You might also work with clients that are in different time zones and that will also complicate things.
Let the clients know when you are available. If you are working while your clients are sleeping, you can find a time that is good for both of you and reserve it for emails or calls.
If your clients know when you are working, they are less likely to panic if you don’t respond to emails in the evening or on weekends.
Setting office hours is also good for you because you can close your computer and do something fun instead of waiting for the next email.
Tell clients how to contact you
Having a form of communication that works for both of you is also something you should talk about before starting a project. Some clients like to talk on the phone or Skype, while you might like writing emails. If you don’t want to receive a phone call in the middle of the night, let them know how they can contact you.
Set a project deadline
This is something I’m still working on. While I do know how long it takes to build a blog or website, some projects take longer so I often forget to set deadlines.
If you want to know when the project is going to end or when you can book other clients, you should set a deadline. This will also help you stay focused and reply faster.
Set a fixed number of revisions
Just like the deadline, setting a fixed number of revisions is very important and should be included in the contract. If you don’t talk about this, your clients will expect an endless number of revisions. It’s up to you if you want to break your own rules and do more changes for free or if you want to charge for extra revisions.
Talk about extra work
If you clients want more revisions than the ones that are included in the contract or if they want to add another page or another feature to their website, they should know if they have to pay for that or not. A lot of people expect freelancers to do more work for free, especially if they are working on a large project, so you should tell them that extra work isn’t free. You should also include your hourly rate for revisions or extra work in the contract.
Have feedback guidelines
You know those posts about the ridiculous feedback designers receive from their clients? Well, many clients just don’t know how to send feedback and it’s your job to educate them. Before you show your clients a mockup of their website, tell them what you want them to look at and how they should provide good feedback.
It’s also important to let them know that negative feedback is also good feedback. Your client is excited about working with you and doesn’t want to upset you. But this might cause problems because they won’t tell you that they don’t like their new logo or a page of their website.
Set feedback deadlines
If you want to avoid waiting for weeks to receive the feedback, give your clients a due date. If they don’t respond before the deadline ends, get in touch with them and tell them again what you are expecting from them.
Communicate the progress of the project
Your clients are excited and want to see the website as fast as possible. They might also think that you are only working on their project and don’t have a business to run. They have no idea how long it takes to create a website mockup or a logo and they keep sending emails.
To avoid waking up to three emails with the same subject, keep your clients updated and explain to them each phase of the design. This will also make them feel more involved in the project and will keep them excited about the design.
Talk about copyright and licensing
What happens after the work is done is also very important and should be included in the contract. If you don’t want your client to make changes to the website you created or to use it on more than one website, let them know.
Enjoy your free time
Freelancers often receive emails or calls in the middle of the night or on weekends. You might also receive very important emails when you are on vacation. Let your clients know before your start the project that you have a trip planned or want to take a few days off over the holidays. Then set an autoresponder to remind them that you are away. Don’t forget to have fun on your vacation.
Establishing client boundaries will help you become more productive and create even more beautiful designs for your clients. And because you are the one setting these boundaries, you can also decide when to break them. Your clients will thank you if you are friendly and helpful and go the extra mile.
Do you have boundaries with clients? What made you place limits with your clients?