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Communication is key to a successful freelance project. In the past, you would need to call and visit with clients frequently to maintain lines of communication. Now we can easily and quickly get in touch with clients around the world from the comfort of our homes. This luxury can have its pros and cons so it is important to have efficient methods to convey information. The primary ways are through calls, emails, and online forms. I’m going to go over the latter and discuss an online form to use for each phase of a project.
1. Contact Form
The basic contact form is the most obvious of the three but is completely necessary. This form allows people that are interested in talking to you or working with you to get in touch. These are your future clients. Anyone that has been in touch with you before should be able to reach you by phone or email. However, this form allows new opportunities and prospects to reach out to you.
A contact form should at least include four fields: name, phone number, email address, and a comments box. These are the necessities to establish a good line of communication with your future client. You can also add more fields here, but research shows that the more fields you have the lower the conversion rate. Keep it simple to maximize conversions, you can always get more information from them later.
2. New Client Questionnaire
This is where you can go deeper into the information you will need from the client to make a project a success. You’ve already been in contact with the client so now you can start to ask all the details you’ve been wanting to know. There are many types of questionnaires that can be asked at varying times during the project.
I personally use a basic discovery one towards the beginning to help gain insights on the current state of the client’s website, the scope of their project, their budget, and their wants for a new website. This is sent after the first contact before any contract is signed. I use the information to get an idea for what kind of project this will be and it helps form the contract. I send this form in an email and also set up a discovery call once the form is complete so I can go over the answers with the future client.
Again, try to get as much information as possible but don’t send a 100 question form, no one will complete it. That is what the accompanying call is for. This form will be a constant adjustment as you tweak questions and refine predefined answers. You’ll learn not to use industry jargon that clients won’t understand and remove options that might send the wrong message.
Learn from my mistakes
When I started out I had a question that asked the client’s budget. I did have the foresight to not make this a fill-in box but rather a dropdown with a few different ranges. The first one said “$0 – $1,000”. I promise you that almost everyone will choose this option, which is exactly what happened to me. I then adjusted by finding my minimum charge for a project and having that be the lowest option.
So, for example, if you don’t want to do a project for under $1,000 set the lowest option to be something like “1,000 – $3,000”. This will set the baseline for your projects and has the added benefit of weeding out clients that do not have that budget. (Hint: those clients were probably not the clients you wanted anyway. Your work is valuable, never be afraid to charge what it is worth or turn down a client that won’t pay that price!)
3. Follow Up / Recommendation
The follow-up form might be the most important of the three, but also the most often overlooked or forgotten. This form should be sent out after every project is completed. If you already have it set up it becomes very easy to send in an email. This form serves a dual purpose: it provides feedback and gets recommendations.
You should use this form to gain feedback on what worked well and what could be improved on future projects. For example, your client may have liked quicker responses to emails. Without anyone telling you this you might not have known that it was an issue so you could then adjust for the next client or project. In this example, you could respond to client emails faster or you could set expectations upfront: “I only respond to emails between 9 and 5 on weekdays”.
The second part is to ask for a statement of recommendation. You have a few options here: you can flat out ask for a recommendation or you can ask questions that can create a quotable snippet. I usually choose the latter because I know how hard it can be to write a recommendation from scratch. Would you rather be asked “Write a recommendation for us” or “if you were to recommend us to your colleague or best friend, what would you say?” The second one provides more of a prompt for the satisfied client to write from. Also, make sure you ask permission before associating their name or company with their recommendation on your website or social media.
Don’t be afraid to ask if they know anyone that might need your services. Referrals are undeniably the best way to gain new clients. Asking after a satisfied client has just gotten a great deliverable from you is perfect!
Online forms are incredibly helpful for saving time and money when it comes to your business. Below I’ve linked to each one of the forms I have for my business to help you get an idea of what these might look like.