In my previous article about considerations to use when pricing freelance work, I outlined information that I use to price per project. This week, I'm sharing more detail in my tools and process to help prepare a project for success. Additionally, they can be factors in what you consider when pricing a high quality experience.
Here are some ways I gather information, plan, kick off, and deliver projects with confidence.
Questionnaires & Communication
- I respond to inquiries in a timely and clear fashion.
- I allow potential partners to find me and become interested in working together, not the other way around. I have a full time job so I don't stress about waiting for potential projects to come along. If you don't, I highly suggest considering the "overlap technique" at least for a while.
- Tailor questionnaires per inquiry, uncover value. Even after they submit some information about their project, I try to discover deeper insights. I try to understand the why in their business, how the project will affect their growth and discover potential fears and pitfalls early on. Not only does this give me greater confidence in pricing and scope, but a trust is built by a potential partner truly listening rather than simply shoving a number into a proposal template. They know you understand when you are asking thoughtful questions. Use these answers to help you craft your proposal and project plan. Show them you are listening.
- Sometimes, this questionnaire can even help discover the right solution to propose. The tool I use may be different from one to the next. Some freelancers may focus on completely niche services, and therefore the discovery process may be more standardized.
- Consider asking why the client wanted to work with you in the questionnaire and see how that lines up with your timing and deadlines. They already have an interest in working with you. If you can start right away, this justifies aligned pricing.
- Same goes for a quick turn around. This is valuable.
- If I can’t schedule something right away because I know I won’t be able to give the project the focus it deserves, I am honest about it. But stay optimistic. Choosing a date on the calendar can alleviate concerns with timing and many times can give both parties more time to prepare for success.
- Combine a proposal into a contract. This way, the initial proposal is signed as a contract (unless there are changes) and only a final invoice is needed at the completion of the project, before the final hand off.
- Write the summary in the email itself in plain terms. Don't make them read the contract for the details they want right away; like pricing, initial payment and what they are paying to receive. The rest are formalities which they can dig into after they get serious.
- I make my project pricing pretty easy - 50% to schedule/start the project and 50% after the solution is presented and approved. After payment is received, finalize files and provide full access.
- Use a Custom Paypal link in your invoice. This provides better service. It’s much easier for them to pay and finish up the project if they choose to use PayPal.
- Write up your process as you go through each project. Try to take photos, write down turning points and decisions. Take quick notes. Don't wait until after the project to try to remember the process details. Post your case studies online.
- Make sure your contracts contain agreement of usage in this way, and be sensitive to business information you write about. Use common sense. Research and understanding copyright and transfer of rights.
Ideas on presenting concepts
When presenting the solution, provide insight into the process and why you made decisions. Don’t just show an image of the solution or the final piece. This gives you greater transparency, which builds trust and shows confidence in the solution. Here are some ideas on ways to present.
- Keynote presentation emailed to the client (this must be clear without you there to be successful)
- Live video presentation using a Keynote presentation you prepared for them
- Recorded video presentation. Record yourself explaining the process and embed the video into a short url on your website. Bonus if the page has pieces of the new branding or design you did as part of the experience!
- Be creative and smart. If you designed an app, give them a tour as if they are a user. If you designed a logo, show it in contexts that make your research and understanding of their business audience shine.
I prefer to deliver packages of files using dropbox. But if it's a website, I usually launch the site while providing access to the site as admin to the clients after payment. This often keeps clients on schedule and helps me to wrap up for my next work. The technique you use will depend on the type of work, but I recommend being consistent throughout the project. For example, I provide my proposal document as a downloadable PDF, so they client becomes accustomed to downloading files from me for everything. Most final projects will need to be delivered this way for file size reasons, unless it lives in the cloud like a website. Either way, I lean away from using attachments in emails.
Remember to keep lines of communication open, and be clear about your commitment to backups, or services that may help them put your design assets into use as their needs grow. Asking for feedback about your process can also be helpful to growing your services as well. If you have a newsletter, the time following a great transaction is a good time to ask your client via a personal email to sign up for your newsletter if they are interested. Alternatively, provide an easy way (a link for exampe) for them to share with others.
All of these techniques have taken me time craft into my process, and there is always room for improvement. Try some of these out and feel free to ask me questions or share how they may have helped you.