Bianca is a content creator who's been writing professionally since 2013. She is now working towards building her online writing business.
The allure of freelance writing is the independence and freedom of choices. Choosing what hours you work, whom you work with, what projects you take up, when you take holidays, etc. It also requires minimal contact with clients, and even lesser face-to-face interaction.
Being part of the communications industry, it is evident that communication skills are key to succeeding as a freelancer. This isn't just restricted to writing, though. Communicating effectively with clients at all times is crucial to add value to your interactions, save precious time and maintain professionalism.
Communication becomes even more important when you are handling international clients across various time zones. It helps you save time and effort, getting the message across effectively in one go, and avoiding calls/pings/emails at odd hours with questions regarding the project or asking for updates.
Find the Right Apps
Did you know that there are various apps that will help you get started with your communication strategy? You can find apps for drafting and sending good emails, or having virtual face-to-face meetings with your clients.
Finding the right apps, tools and resources will help you get better organized with your client communication. From creating concise, professional messages to setting up meetings and scheduling emails, these apps will be of great help.
Use a Medium You are Comfortable With
Not everyone is comfortable or confident about sending emails, while others feel the same about face-to-face meetings or calls. The best way to start communicating effectively is beginning with a medium that you're most comfortable with.
It may so happen that, at times, a client needs to schedule a call or prefers communicating via email. Although you may need to oblige in such cases, it's best to initiate a conversation using your preferred medium. If you are much more comfortable with a call, email ahead and schedule a suitable time. If you work better with emails, then go ahead and draft a detailed email to the client.
This helps build confidence when you're still getting to know the client, and helps you stay in your element.
ALWAYS Follow Up
There is no way to stress this enough; following up after a meeting is CRUCIAL! so that you don't miss out on any important details, and can ensure that the client is on the same page.
I have encountered situations where I quoted an estimate for the project on a call, and the client later refuted it stating that they heard something different. I have also missed on important inclusions to be made to a project a few times because I missed what the client said on the call/there was a disturbance or distraction/the network fluctuated.
A good practice is to make a note of important points discussed (by both parties) in the call and then send these off to the client via email to get their confirmation. Preferably within a few hours of the call, so that you have a written record.
Take Your Time to Draft Written Communication
Drafting emails or messages isn't easy every time. There may be days when you're not feeling up to it, or are busy/distracted and need to send one out to a client. At these times, it's best to wait, organize your thoughts, and take your time.
If you are planning to send written communication at a later time, then it's a sound practice to jot down pointers beforehand. You might remember something important in the morning and then another thing in the afternoon. Take notes; you can copy these into the email/message, edit and send it out.
Sending one email/message with all the information always looks more professional and less spammy than sending out multiple ones with points that you forgot to include before.
Set Clear Expectations
It is very important to set clear, straightforward and unambiguous expectations about a project before you start. Clarify the timelines, scope of the project, costing, and how you will work to avoid any issues later on.
Let the client know when they can expect the completed work from you, how and when you will provide objects, what the project milestones will be, and how many changes/edits are included in the total cost. It's also wise to clarify when the cost of a project will increase (eg. if the number of words goes up, or after 3 edits).
This helps the project to flow smoothly and get milestones, updates and payments completed on time; and get you a potential long-term client.
Listening is just as important as speaking/writing to a client. Pay attention when the client is speaking on a call so that you don't miss what they are saying. When it comes to something as subjective as writing, the client may describe what they envision from the project using their own perspective.
It's pertinent for the writer to listen between the lines and understand what the client actually means. It may not always be as straightforward, so make sure you're paying close attention.
As a follow up to the previous point. if you're not sure of what the client wants, ask.
If the email that they sent is ambiguous, ask.
If what they said on the call is confusing, ask.
Always ask to clarify ANYTHING you're unsure of. This is also a precursor to setting clear and well-defined expectations. It also helps to avoid any shocks or surprises later on in the project. Ask as many questions as you need to understand what is expected of you, and preferably get it in writing so that you can refer to it even later on.
© 2021 Priyanka Athavale
Priyanka Athavale (author) from Pune on July 05, 2021:
Thank you, John! Yes absolutely, it's so much easier when it's all in writing!
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 05, 2021:
You offer very good advice for a freelance writer, Priyanka. I prefer to all my correspondence through message or email, even though some request a video or phone call. Especially if the client does not have English as their first language I find it often difficult to understand exactly what they want. It is much easier if it is all written down.