When getting started with a new client, we always want to put our best foot forward. We can often find ourselves going out of our way to make them feel as though we are the best freelancer ever (which isn’t inherently a bad thing).
However, when getting started with a client it is important to be honest about your boundaries and not set unrealistic expectations. Having boundaries with your clients is essential to forming healthy relationships. I have seen it time and time again when a new freelancer overpromises their time or ability and then ends up with a disappointed client. Not only this but understanding your client's requirements and being honest about what you can provide is essential to setting healthy boundaries upfront. You need to decide, as a freelancer, what boundaries are most important to you. Identify comfortable physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual limits before starting out with any clients. Consider these 6 things when getting started with a new client:
1. Respect your time: Make your availability clear upfront and stick to it as much as you can. Do not allow your client to take advantage of you to suit their schedule. Though being flexible is important, make it clear that any work you do outside of your working hours is a one-off favor, not something that clients should expect regularly.
2. Communicate often and effectively: Understanding your own communication style is important to target the best clients for you. Some clients' communication styles will align with yours, while others will not. Learn the difference and have the appropriate conversations early on in the relationship.
3. Say NO and mean it: This can be a difficult thing for many freelancers (especially those who are new to the profession). However, saying no to activities, meetings, or tasks that are outside of your pre-set boundaries (or just simply are not what you agreed to) is so important to maintaining a healthy client-freelancer relationship.
4. Set your expectations & boundaries early: When you are first getting started with a new client, the first 30 days are going to be the most important time to set and maintain your expectations and boundaries. Don’t hesitate to have a clear conversation about these things with your client. Keep the client informed and hold your ground.
5. Keep control: Remember that your client is essentially your boss; however, this does not mean that they should have complete control over your actions and boundaries. Maintain a firm grasp on the relationship and don’t be afraid to be assertive. If your client seems unaware that they are overstepping your boundaries, they might need a firm reminder.
6. Let go of the guilt: Never feel guilty about having and setting boundaries with your clients. A client who doesn’t like or respect your boundaries may use manipulation or guilt to try and change them. These clients are NOT worth your time and are better left to fend for themselves.
Setting boundaries with your clients should not be thought of as a bad thing, but instead a way to be a better freelancer and create clear and open communication between you and your clients. Your professionalism should establish you as a valuable member of your client's team or business. Building this relationship of trust and communication will serve both you and your client better.
Author: Camryn Pickworth
As the head VA and owner of The First Pick VA Group I have found such great joy in sharing my experiences and top tips with other freelancers and aspiring VA's. I hope that our blog can service as a great reference for VA's and Clients alike!