Working with a freelancer is an easy way to hire extra resources for a specific project without having to incur the added expense of hiring a full-time employee. Despite there being a number of advantages to hiring freelancers, many companies dread working with them.
This can be because of previous bad experiences with freelancers or simply a preconceived idea that the company might have. Here are some of the top reasons why companies don’t want to work with freelancers and how you can help change this.
1. Not accepting feedback or constructive criticism
Being able to receive criticism without taking offence, but proactively acting on it is a great trait to have. Accepting criticism is a crucial step in improving your skills and customer service. Some freelancers, however, take a defensive approach to feedback and aren’t open to listening to input from their clients.
The fact that a company hired you because you are a professional in your field, doesn’t necessarily mean that you know everything. Of course, some clients are just outright unreasonable, however, it’s important to be open and listening to them. Individuals might have much more experience than you have and see things from a different perspective. Their advice just might help you to improve your services and make more money.
It is important to listen to your clients throughout the project, however, an easy way to get feedback from clients are with a short customer satisfaction questionnaire after each project is completed. Ask questions such as their satisfaction with the quality of work, price, overall satisfaction, recommendations on where you can make improvements and what they liked about your services. Your clients are busy so keep it short.
2. Not asking enough questions
The challenge of being a freelancer is that you don’t work for the company. You need to grasp the company identity, scope of the project and desired outcomes very quickly in order to successfully complete the work that the company requires from you. The one big headache that companies have regarding this, is that freelancers don’t ask enough questions during the brief and throughout the project.
Ask as many questions as possible during the first brief. If something is even slightly unclear, ask about it. The more questions you ask in the beginning, the easier your job is going to be later on. It might even be a good idea to make a list of questions that you frequently have in a project.
Secondary to asking more questions, it is also important to not make assumptions. Get clarification from your client rather than making an assumption which is likely to be wrong.
3. Over exaggerated claims of skillset
In the extremely saturated freelancer market of today, it is difficult to stand out from amongst the crowd. This might tempt you to inflate your skills and pretend to know how to do certain things that you actually do not know how to do. There is no easier way to break trust and ruin a relationship than to lie to your client.
Yes, it is relatively easy to learn a new skill with the amount of information available at our fingertips today but don’t use that as an excuse to say that you know how to do something if you don’t. Be honest with your client and tell them that you cannot do something if that is the case. If you have already built a strong relationship with them, they will likely give you the playing ground to do the necessary research and develop that skill. If not, you will have gained their trust in being honest and looking out for their interests.
4. Lying about portfolios
While the majority of people might think this obscene, freelancers have been caught claiming others’ work as their own. This is not only unprofessional but also unethical and plagiarism. Yes, not all your clients will do the research required to double check your portfolio, but if you do get caught, it will ruin your reputation in the industry.
If you don’t have a portfolio to show clients, start creating one that you can use. You don’t need clients to build a portfolio – it is as easy as starting a blog, creating an Instagram account with your designs or building a website for yourself. You might become inspired by others’ work, but don’t simply steal it!
5. Pricing services incorrectly
Pricing yourself correctly is always a challenge that freelancers face. Are you overcharging? Undercharging? How do your rates compare to that of the industry? These might be your concerns but what about your clients?
If you are pricing yourself too low clients might be afraid that you don’t have the necessary skills and experience that they require for their project. At the same time, if you overprice yourself clients become concerned whether they will truly get the best value for their money.
It is important to be aware of what the market rate is and strategically position yourself accordingly. You can also look at our article ‘How to calculate your hourly rate as a freelancer?‘ to work out your rates. Also look at what your competitors are doing and remember that adding value can help you justify why your price is marginally higher.
6. A saturated market
Nowadays the freelancer market is just as difficult to enter as the formal corporate world with freelancers competing against each other for projects. This makes it difficult for companies to get professional freelancers who truly know what they are doing. It can simply be too time consuming to search for a decent freelancer that will be able to do the work that they require.
This is the place where all the previous components come into play. Word of mouth marketing is the best kind available. Being able to receive constructive criticism (and acting on it), ensuring that you completely understand the project and what is expected of you, asking questions when you are unsure and being honest with your clients will help you to build a good relationship with them. Your clients will not only come back to you time and again once you have proven yourself reliable and trustworthy, but also start referring you to other people.
Client service isn’t rocket science. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and think what service you would like to receive and provide that to your clients.