When I started freelancing three years ago, I didn’t set any boundaries with my clients. I wanted them to love working with me, so I thought I should give them whatever they wanted. This included extra revisions, design files that weren’t included in their quote, lots of time added to their deadline… You get the point.
As my experience grew, I realized this was not the right way to run a business. Not only did it drive me crazy but it meant that I was earning less than minimum wage and my clients thought I’d do anything for them if they pushed me a little.
In a mastermind group I run for awesome lady freelancers, I noticed some of members were going through the same things I did, and the root of their problem was because they weren’t setting boundaries with their clients.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
I established boundaries that would stop my clients from taking advantage of me, and I set up guidelines that would steer clients to communicate with me the way I wanted. I learned that clients like and respect boundaries!
Here are 9 boundaries freelancers should set with their clients:
If you don’t want to email your clients on weekends and evenings, don’t! Set up an auto responder that informs clients of your communication times so they understand this right from the start.
Form of communication
Some clients will want to communicate with you via text or phone. If you prefer to email, like most freelancers, then state this upfront in your autoresponder. It’s also helpful to send out a Welcome pack when potential clients get in touch, and you could state this (and your communication times) in it.
Work days and hours
In your welcome pack, add your work days and hours, and your time zone. Clients will automatically expect that you work Momday to Friday, but if you don’t work Friday’s for example, tell them.
Number of revisions
If you don’t set this boundary, clients will expect endless revisions. Trust me. Repeat their number of revisions in your welcome pack, your contract, your invoice and maybe even their initial consultation.
If you’re tired of clients sending you dozens of long emails that make no sense, do something about it. I send my clients a PDF called Feedback Guidelines that lists a few helpful tips on how to provide good feedback. All my clients seem to abide by it!
If you don’t set a deadline for your project you’ll never know when it’s going to end or when you should start booking more clients. Set a deadline, inform your clients of it upfront, and put it in your contract and invoice.
Feedback due dates
Have you ever waited weeks for feedback on mock ups? It’s the worst! Give your clients due dates on their feedback. This gives you reason to get in touch with them and ask for it if they haven’t provided it on time.
Extra work isn’t free
I learned this the hard way. If you throw in one freebie, they’ll expect another and another. If your clients asks for something extra, always tell them it will cost extra. Even if the extra work is small.
No emails or work when you’re on vacation
When you’re lying on a beach in the Caribbean, you don’t want to be emailing from your phone. You want to be sipping your cocktail and reading a book! Tell your clients your vacation dates at the start of their project, and tell them you won’t be available during that time. Then pause your inbox and relax!
Nesha works with passionate entrepreneurs to design brand identities and websites that attract their dream clients. When she’s not playing with pretty fonts she’s travelling the world, watching Suits or spending too much money in Topshop. Visit her at Nesha Woolery.