Finding clients gets talked about a lot.
But what to do once you have them…not so much!
For designers, there is so much that goes into starting a business. Lots of stuff I didn’t really think about when I started. Like what the heck to do once you have a client who says, “I’m interested in working with you.”
At the beginning, my client intake process was messy and confusing. It took me a few years to figure out how to structure and refine it into the efficient gazelle it is today. I became pretty obsessed with making it awesome once I realized how time-consuming it could be. I’m all about maximizing my time! Heck yeah.
What matters when it comes to client intake?
It has to be fast and simple for clients—and for me! I want to prevent a lot of emails back and forth so the channels of communication open for other important stuff. We need to set clear expectations, get a contract signed and get a deposit. A project isn’t real unless you’ve gotten money for it. I need to define next steps, provide documentation of prices and costs, and make it all digestible and readily available.
Stuff that’s unnecessary
When I first went freelance, I was under the impression that I had to write a proposal for any new work. I was putting a lot of time and effort into proposals—not knowing if they would actually yield projects or if the client was valuing any of it (or just price shopping)—and pretty much, it was a waste of time, at least for me. I quickly got rid of proposal-writing and put everything into a quick and easy estimate.
The way you intake a client is a precursor to what working with you will be like! If they’re confused at the beginning, what does that say? If you’ve got a buttoned up client intake process, your client will have confidence moving into the project with you. It’s how you set the stage for a smooth and successful project (and keep yourself efficient, calm and sane).
A while ago, I outlined my client intake process here. And since I continue to get questions about it from other designers, I thought—why not take this maximization to a wider audience? If I share my process, it could save new freelancers tons of time and let them get down to the part they love—design.
So, I’m going to create a product that will essentially be an all-in-one client intake process that designers can take and use in their own businesses right from the get-go. (I wish someone had built a client intake process and given me the keys ten years ago!)
I want to make sure I share everything, so my first step is documenting my whole process from start to finish. Ready, set, go!
Update July 2020: it’s here! The Client Onboarding Toolkit is a simple, 4-step digital course that walks you through my time-tested process for onboarding clients. Designed for creative professionals, it’ll save you time, stress and frustration while making you look like the creative rockstar you are. You’ll turn prospects into paying clients with more clarity, sanity, and confidence than ever before. Learn more »