Small summary: A couple of the ideas that should help you better manage the expectations of your new clients when working as a freelance developer
Working as a freelance developer offers you many well-known advantages. But one of the drawbacks is that you’re responsible for meeting with new possible clients and discussing everything. Quite a number of the freelance developers we’ve talked to seem to run into the same issue - not being able to properly manage the expectations of their new clients. You should never assume that your client has worked with freelance developers before and already know everything about your process as a freelance developer. Some of the aspects you should discuss in a very clear and open manner before starting any project with a new client are as follows:
Your meeting protocol - When working as a freelance developer you’ll want to be able to focus on just that for the majority of the time. So don’t let your clients think they can call you just at any odd hour of the day for any small thing. Sure, you want to be reachable in case of anything. But setting up a weekly meeting should be more than enough in most cases.
Your billing protocol - If you’ve been working as a freelance developer until now, you’ve probably heard complaints from clients for being billed for meeting up with you or for calling you outside of work hours. To prevents such discussions from arising, make certain to explain to any new potential client exactly what you will be billing them for and what your rates are. And don’t let yourself be guilt tripped into not charging them for these things.
Time is money, as they say, and you should be getting paid for any and all time spent working on their project, whether this means actual coding or discussing their latest idea on the phone. Along with this, make sure to also inform them of when and how you expect to receive payment. Just because you’re working as a freelance developer shouldn’t mean you allow your clients to skimp on paying you or leave you waiting for that check.
How to test and offer feedback - Some of your new clients when working as a freelance developer could be completely clueless to how they should actually test the product you’re delivering. Take the time to let them know how to do this and how to offer you valuable feedback that you can work with. Otherwise, you might just find yourself hearing some generic line such as ‘This isn’t quite what I imagined’ which won’t help you at all.
These are just a couple of the ideas that should help you better manage the expectations of your new clients when working as a freelance developer. As you can see, what matter most in maintaining a good relationship with your clients if you’re working as a freelance developer is developing an open line of communication.