You’re excited to work with your new client.
You want them to know what to expect.
But today I want to say, let’s not overdo it, folks!
If I hire someone to do a service for me, and they give me a bunch of restrictions and rules, I don’t like it. Especially when it’s one of our first interactions! Every person and project is unique, sure, but if you try to define every detail it’s impossible—and it’s going to make everyone tired. Aren’t we already tired enough?
Especially when you’re first starting out, you might want to figure out everything.
It’s fine if you want to do this for you—but you don’t need to share it all with your client. Absolutely, get your ducks in a row. Know how you want your systems to work. But realize that if you try to control too much, up front, it can come off at micro-managing and overwhelming.
Later in your career, there might be some important boundaries you want to set.
I get it. This isn’t your first rodeo. You know the things that drive you crazy, and you want to try to avoid them. It’s fine when it’s a few things (like your values), but it can be overkill when it’s everything.
Either way, when it comes to the welcome packet—let’s keep it simple.
It doesn’t actually need to be a packet. You want your new client to be excited about the upcoming project. You want to take the burden away and give them relief—not extra rules, regulations, systems and how-tos to worry about! That’s information overload.
What should the onboarding process make them feel like?
Your onboarding process should recharge them and get them excited—not drain them! You want the client to think: Cool, this is easy. I’m excited and I know what’s happening. You want them to think about the work, not how you’re going to do the work. Take the stress away! Give them relief. You’re going to lift the weight and help them get it done!
The trick is—define boundaries quickly and clearly as the project goes on.
So, if not in the welcome packet, how do you share all of your boundaries then? Well, you can do it on an as-needed basis once you start the project. Because even if you sent them a 200-page welcome packet with all rules, you’re still going to have to do this anyway, because who’s going to read and remember all of that? And even in 200-pages, you still won’t be able to cover all the possibilities. Your clients are going to have questions and need your support along the way. You’ll still need to manage the client as you go. No matter what, you’re going to need to get comfortable sharing boundaries in real time.
But that’s such a time suck!
I understand. But that’s also life and human interaction. Maybe you want to raise your rates a little bit so you can do this back-and-forth without feeling like it’s inefficient. Personally, I think some hand-holding is part of the personal service our clients need and pay us for.
What onboarding should look like…
Creative projects are already beasts—you don’t want to complicate them any further.
You might really need a client to do and understand a couple of things before you start.
The other stuff can get handled later.
I think onboarding should be easy. Get the contract signed, get the payment, and get moving. You can outline the most important things, but not make them a hindrance.
I promise. An efficient welcome or onboarding process doesn’t have to be stressful (or burdensome) for either of you! Here’s a quick peek into my intake process.
If you want more specifics, here’s my Client Onboarding Toolkit: a simple, 4-step digital course that walks you through my time-tested process for onboarding clients. It will help you create your own, simple intake process that starts the project right. Organized, in-the-know, relaxed and excited!
To sum it up, skip the hefty welcome packet and keep it simple!