Questions Freelancers Should Ask Their Clients: Breaking in as a New Freelancer

Freelancers are an important part of the economy. They provide a necessary service to businesses and individuals, as well as work for themselves.

One of the most important things to remember is to ask your clients questions before you start working for them.

Freelancers may be new to the workforce, or they might have been freelancing for years. Regardless of the length of their career, it is always good practice to ask questions about their client’s needs before beginning any work on a job.

Questions to ask clients
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Questions to ask your client before starting a project.

This article will go over some of the questions that you should be asking your clients when they come looking for help with their projects. Whether it’s marketing, copywriting or web design, there are many different services that freelancers can provide and every client has different needs. The more information you have about what they’re looking for, the better service you’ll be able to offer them!

Here are some questions that every freelancer should ask and get answers to, to get started with confidence:

1) What are your expectations?  

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As you onboard your client, you need to know from the start what their expectations are. What do they want to achieve from hiring you? Are there specific results that they’re looking for, or are they just interested in the general direction of where things will go?

Knowing what their expectations are lets you know which questions should be asked next. You can use this information when creating your project plan and estimate so that both parties have an idea of what to expect.

Lastly, knowing their expectations will help you determine how much time the job might take and whether or not it’s even feasible for your client.

2) Do you have any deadlines I need to know about? 

This is another very important question you should ask your potential client.

Finding out about deadlines will help you plan your work accordingly. You can’t guarantee that everything is going to go according to schedule. However, knowing the set due date ensures that you won’t be caught off guard by any future questions or requests from them regarding their project.

It’s also important to note whether they have a firm deadline for their project or if they’re looking for a general ballpark. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to know how far in advance they would like to receive your work.

This way, there is no pressure on either party and you can both enjoy the process of completing their desired tasks!

Lastly, this question also helps freelancers learn more about their client’s work habits. You don’t want to always be chasing your clients for questions or information, so knowing if they’re organized and punctual is a good piece of knowledge to have!

3) Have you ever worked with a freelancer before?

This might sound a little be awkward but it’s a question worth asking. Knowing your client’s history in hiring freelancers will help guide the process.

If they have worked with a freelancer before, you can ask them questions about the previous project. What was good? What was bad? How would they like to see things done differently this time around?

You should also find out what went wrong last time if possible. Maybe their first freelancer did not complete all of their tasks on time or to their standards. Perhaps they had a poor work ethic and were not as reliable as your client would have liked?

The point is, you want all of the information that you can get about previous experiences with freelancers so that you can build on those successes and learn from any mistakes! 

If they’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you’ll need to guide them through the process.

4) What are your terms of payment?

Is it an hourly payment? Will it be paid in a set of milestones? Is there a retainer fee?

It’s important to know the terms of payment before you begin your freelancing journey. If it’s an hourly rate, how many hours do they expect this project to take and what is their budgetary ceiling? It might help for you to break down questions like these into smaller chunks so that it’s more digestible for your clients.

If you’re being paid by milestones, what exactly do they expect? What are the deliverables of each milestone and how long should the entire project take from start to finish?

In addition, is there a retainer fee or deposit required upfront before any work can be started on their end? Knowing this information will help you create a project plan and estimate so you can best insert milestones into the process.

Lastly, it’s also important to note what happens if your client decides they no longer require your services before completing their desired tasks. Will there be any penalties? How much notice will they give for you to finish up all of your work and close out the project?

Understanding their payment terms is crucial in ensuring that both you and your client are on the same page! 

5) How often do you want updates on the project?

How often should you send your client updates? Do they prefer them daily or once every few days?

There is no right answer here. It depends on the type of project and what stage it’s in, as well as how much information you need to share with your clients! Communicating regularly can result in questions that need to be answered and it’s also a good way for them to know what stage the project is in at all times.

On the other hand, if you’re working with lots of different clients on multiple projects things can become overwhelming very quickly. Don’t forget that there needs to be room for questions from both sides as well. Your client might need questions answered and if you’re sending updates daily, that can be difficult to juggle.

Communication is key in any kind of project, so finding the best medium for your client will help save time and effort as well.

Find out more on how to best communicate with your clients here.

6) What is the project budget?

Do they have a budget for their project? Is there a specific amount that they have to stick with? Is the budget flexible or fixed?

Again, both parties need to know about any budgetary constraints before you begin work. If your client has a strict limit in place, then perhaps working hourly would be best so you can charge them more over time and make up for their low budget.

If the budget is flexible, then you can work on a fixed-price basis and develop an estimate that will be more accurate than if your client supplied very little information about their project before starting.

At the beginning of any kind of new endeavor, it’s always best to go in with as much knowledge as possible so that you’re

7) How is the communication?

In any given business, communication is key. Does the client have any special software or tools that they use to communicate with their team? What is the preferred method of sharing information and questions, in person or over email? Don’t forget about phone calls too.

What level of formality does your client prefer for questions and when it comes time to deliver any kind of updates on projects?

Is there a particular style guide they like to follow?

8) How many people will be actively involved in the project?

Depending on how large a project is, there could be several people involved in its execution. It’s good to know that in advance and then ask questions about who will be the primary contact.

Who is their decision-maker? Will you always need an intermediary or can they communicate directly with you without any issues?

These questions are all important when working on a project for clients! If there is more than one person involved it could get difficult to schedule meetings and questions may need to be forwarded on, which can also slow down the process.

9) Do they have a project manager?

Is there a particular person on the client’s team who takes care of these questions and deadlines? Who is in charge of making sure that everything falls into place at the right time?

If you’re working with a larger company it can be difficult to get your questions answered directly from someone without going through an intermediary. Knowing if they have a project manager who keeps everything on track can help eliminate any questions about timelines and deadlines which will save both parties a lot of trouble.

10) Am I allowed to work on other projects alongside your project?

This is an important question to ask in any kind of freelance situation. If you’re working on a larger project with lots of questions and deadlines, then it can be difficult to juggle more than one at once.

In some cases, your client may not mind if you work on other projects while they are waiting for updates from you or get questions answered. However, if that’s the case then you may want to consider how much work they are expecting from you before signing on for anything else.

11) Can I include this project in my portfolio?

After all of your questions have been answered, it’s also important to ask if you can list the project in your portfolio. This is a great way for future clients and employers to see what kind of work you’ve done so far and how much experience you have with certain tasks or skills.

12) Do you have a preferred payment method?

Many questions should be asked before signing on to a project or taking on any new clients, including how they would like to pay you. Some companies have an account set up for this already while others can handle payments through PayPal or other methods. It’s always best to ask about their preferred payment method so the process is smooth and efficient from start to finish.

13) Will you be providing any assets for the project?

Will the client be providing any materials for the project? It’s always best to know whether or not they will provide any of the assets upfront. If it turns out that you need something specific and they didn’t mention it beforehand, then this can be a costly mistake on your side if you have to go ahead and purchase those items yourself before working on anything else.

14) Do we have an official contract?

Do your clients have a signed contract for all projects or is there anything that needs to be agreed upon between the two parties before working on something new? It’s always best to make sure both you and the client are protected by having an official agreement in place. This can help avoid any questions about what was included, how much work should be expected, and other questions that may come up while working on a project.

15) Do we have an official invoice?

When the work is finished and you’re ready to get paid for your services, it’s always best to send over an official invoice so there are no questions about billing or payment in the future. This is a great way to make sure you get paid and your client doesn’t forget about it (which can happen easily in larger companies).

16) How do I add value?

This is more of a question you should be asking yourself. What value are you bringing into the project? What skills and experience do you have that will benefit the client? It’s important to know what your value is as a freelancer so you can highlight those strengths before any questions come up during the project.

17) Can I see an example of previous work done by this company?

Even if there isn’t much time for questions, it’s always a good idea to find out what kind of work your client has done before. This can help you get an idea for the direction they are going, their previous design choices, or questions that may come up along the way during development.

18) What is the company’s reputation?

It’s important to know the company’s reputation. How are they seen in the market? What kind of questions have other employees/freelancers asked before working with them? This can help you get an idea about how often questions come up, what questions may be relevant during development and overall how well your client is prepared to handle any questions that arise.

19) What questions do you have for me?

This is the last question you should be asking your client before signing on for anything. You want to make sure they are comfortable with answering questions and that there will not be any awkwardness during communication between each other in the future.

Get clarification!

Having questions answered in advance is the best way to start working with new clients! It shows that you’re professional and prepared, plus it saves everyone time when there are no questions left unanswered.

Freelancers are responsible for asking questions to establish a healthy client-freelancer relationship. This is an important step because it ensures that both parties are protected and comfortable with any questions or concerns, they might have about the project before it begins.

If you can’t answer one of these questions, don’t be afraid to ask your prospective client during their onboarding process so you’re not left wondering if something is missing later on down the line.

Knowing about questions like these can help you create your processes, allowing for a smoother workday and fewer headaches along the way. Not only that but it will also help you figure out if this is someone with whom you want to develop a long-term working relationship.

There are questions freelancers should ask their clients but this is not an exhaustive list by any means.

What questions do you think someone should always be sure to ask?

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