Freelancers are plagued without enough problems when it comes to working as a solopreneur, but one question constantly arises: how does one work with clients who micromanage? The truth is… you don’t. At that point, it isn’t a professional environment because freelancers have constant invasion by a pestering client. Across the board, from the experienced to the inexperienced, freelancers could all benefit from better client management systems.
The most important thing a client needs to have in place is a contract. When you are getting started, it is confusing without some legal guidance. This is why many freelancers start out with oral contracts or operate casually with written communication. Client management is really just the management of client interaction, which includes all forms of communication. Client management software is a great starting point to get contracts, invoices, and information logged and stored for all involved parties. However, this only solves one part of the equation.
It is one thing to have a system to process information, but clients need to understand clear boundaries. Without these boundaries, they can easily become a helicopter. What are your preferred working conditions? What are things you absolutely cannot tolerate from clients? Create a list of conditions that dictate the proper conduct during a professional relationship. Be reasonable, but firm. Outline these conditions so that potential clients are aware of what is expected of them and what is expected of you.
Having clear rules will let clients know that they can’t take advantage of you or assign tasks outside of a contract. However, these conditions and terms mean nothing if they aren’t enforced. It does not help your case if you say one thing and then allow your boundaries to be breached. If you find a client constantly overstepping their bounds, then playing it off casually, then they do not respect the terms you set forth. If you permit this behavior, then it will continue. Clear communication is key. You don’t need to sit them down to have a face-to-face conversation each time. A firmly worded email should do the trick.
If you have problems with clients who request too many frivolous changes to projects, then have a clause within your contract to curb that. Changes to a project may add on the cost or limit the number of changes, and specify the types of changes allowed. Sometimes, clients are difficult to work with simply because they expect to be updated throughout the process and keep checking in too often. Set your contract in such a way that they are aware of your working hours and how they will be notified of a project’s status. A client management software with a client portal can be an excellent way to curb this. It will allow you to manage your time and inform clients without causing intrusion. If that doesn’t work, then ensure you have some form of consequence. If a client is unbearable, then abandon the project and notify them. It is not worth the strain of dealing with someone who has no regard for you.
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