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8 Things Clients Look for When Hiring Freelancers

Just like how an employer looks at your resume to consider hiring you, a client looks for certain competencies, disciplines, and evidence to consider collaborating with you. Here are eight things clients want when hiring freelancers.

1. Skill and Expertise

The first and most important thing clients look for is a fit between their needs and your skills. This means they want to see clear indicators of how your services can help solve their business problems.

One common mistake newbie freelancers tend to make here is that they sell themselves too hard to the client. Remember, you are not an employee, but a sole proprietor. You are as much of a business as your client is.

It’s not about you convincing the prospective client to hire you, but rather exploring how you, and they are a good fit to collaborate as two separate business entities. Basically, you analyze their needs while they analyze your skills.

2. A Solid Portfolio

An illustration of portfolio of a professional

A well-maintained portfolio is the most powerful tool you have in your arsenal as a freelancer. It shows that other clients have used your services and that they approve of you as a skilled professional.

This is crucial because, without a portfolio, a prospective client has no way of verifying whether you are what you claim to be. There is no hard evidence why they should spend their money on your services.

In a way, a portfolio is a collection of success stories of how you were able to solve your clients’ problems and sustain a relationship with them. This gives your prospective clients a sense of reassurance that they can rely on you.

3. Familiarity With Content Management Systems

Illustration of complex projects and its management

Content Management Systems or CMSs are tools designed to organize and streamline workflow. Tools such as WordPress, Asana, Trello, Clockify, and Pivotal Tracker are some of the most common CMSs used by businesses worldwide.

If you are just starting out and don’t know anything about these tools, it’s a good idea to use their free trials to get acquainted with their UI. Better yet, you can ask your prospective clients which CMSs they use to figure out which tools are popular in your industry.

Apart from the obvious benefit of better workflow and organization of tasks, knowing about CMSs also helps you come across as a professional. It creates a good first impression in front of prospects and separates you from other less-knowledgeable freelancers.

4. Proper Invoicing

Person using a calculator and a PC

Right from the get-go, one thing that you have to get right when freelancing is invoicing. Whenever a client buys a service from you, they expect to receive an invoice (or bill) that displays all the important details of that transaction.

Without an invoice, both you and your client will have trouble keeping track of the work you’ve done for them and the payment they have made to you. An invoice is not an expendable thing, and it’s a legal document that proves your income.

Speaking of legal, make sure you understand taxes before you send your client an invoice. A wrongly-charged tax will make your client doubt your expertise and even cut ties with your business. Consult your accountant beforehand to make sure all legal requirements are followed.

5. Timely Turnarounds

long loading time due to unwanted opening apps

As a freelancer, a big part of your job is to try and save yourself and your clients as much time as possible. While a typical employee has no real incentive to get their work done faster, such is not the case for freelancers because they are paid for their work, not their time.

This means there is no real ceiling capping your ability to earn more. The faster you can get your work done, the more work you can pick up. This is good for your client as they can get more done in less time, and it’s good for you as you can control your income.

Related: Employment vs. Freelancing: Which Is a Better Career Choice?

6. Compatible Pricing

Clients come to you with their problems to find solutions they don’t know or don’t have the time to figure out by themselves. This leaves enough room for you to use your creativity and expertise to help them out.

An illustration of someone paying money to the beneficiary

To measure how valuable a client problem is (and how much you can charge them), you can judge it based on three main categories: necessity, urgency, and scalability.

If a project is necessary to do, that means its absence is hindering the company’s growth. If it’s urgent, its absence is actively hurting the company (financially or otherwise). If it’s scalable, it will deeply impact the company’s future. Based on these criteria, you can come up with prices compatible with your client.

7. Project Management

Most freelancers work with multiple clients at a time. By doing this, they increase their financial security and decrease the inconsistency of their workload. Clients know this, and that’s why they often ask you to prioritize their work over others, for obvious reasons.

An illustration of planning ahead

And while you might be tempted to say yes just to get a new client, this is not a good long-term strategy as your existing clients won’t have an incentive to stay loyal. After all, nobody likes to hear, “Sorry I couldn’t deliver your work on time, a new client approached me.”

Instead, what you can do is charge a “priority fee”. That means if a new client has an urgent requirement and needs to override a pre-booked slot in your schedule, you can charge them an additional fee for the extra hassle. But make sure to let the new client know of this fee before making the deal; nobody likes surprises in an invoice.

Related: Free Project Plan Templates to Simplify Complex Tasks

8. Testimonials From Other Clients

People find it easier to trust something or someone once it’s tested and verified by other people. It’s called social proof. It’s why we read Amazon reviews and watch YouTube videos before buying a product.

A visual showing many clients giving stars to freelancer

The same applies here. If a prospective client can see visible evidence of you being a reliable freelancer, they are more likely to hire you. If you happen to have loyal clients who have been working with you for a long time, it’s a good idea to ask them for a testimonial.

This will help increase your credibility and desirability as a skilled professional. You can offer small benefits to your clients as motivation to write you a testimonial; although, they usually don’t mind doing it out of pure gratitude.

Become an Employable Freelancer

Getting hired as a freelancer is not the same as getting hired as an employee.

While the latter is mostly limited to your primary skill, such as writing or coding, the former tends to be more demanding. It requires additional skills and know-how to be employable.

10 Client Red Flags Every Freelancer Should Be Aware Of

We all have clients who aren’t a good fit. Here are some red flags to watch for when working with new clients.

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