This is the third part in our series. I’m going to be talking about each essential stage of freelancing. So this post shares some tips about the third stage: onboarding your clients.
We’ve talked about Stage 1: how to choose the perfect freelancing niche…how to determine if you want to be a bookkeeper, a proofreader, a freelance writer, that kind of thing.
We’ve talked about Stage 2: how to build an online marketable skill set to perform services in your chosen niche.
Now we’re going to talk about how to onboard new clients.
If you prefer to watch the video, just scroll down.
Usually, aspiring freelancers think that once they’ve chosen their niche and they’ve gained the skills needed to succeed in that niche, they are ready for clients.
No, it is not Phase 3.
Phase 3 is onboarding.
Why? Because onboarding takes care of how you are going to treat the client, the moment they become a client. So that needs to be done before you actually go out and seek the client.
It comes before marketing.
So how do you onboard new clients?
I like to think of onboarding as a two-step process:
- The Welcome
- The Work
Step 1: The Welcome
Now, step one is the welcome because you’re doing this online and the prospective client has said yes to working with you, and the moment they’ve said yes, there’s a small window of time where they are wondering if they’ve made the right decision.
They’ve just said yes to someone they’ve never met before, they’ve never seen before. Did they make the right decision here? You’re a stranger to them.
So the welcome part of the onboarding process tells them, reassures them in a very warm way that they have made the right decision in deciding to work with you. That you are a consummate professional, who can do the services that they require you to do and that they’ve made the right decision. So it’s a warm welcome.
A nice email or little personalized video can go a long way in securing a strong welcome onboarding process.
Step 2: The Work
Step two is the work. Step two determines how you are going to conduct your work for this client. If they’re a bookkeeping client, you need access to their books. You need to know how you are going to generate reports for them. Things like that. If you are a proofreader, you might need to ask your client what their preferences are in terms of corrections, in terms of perhaps which set of grammar rules they subscribe to.
So you need to know not just what you need from the client, but how you will get that information from the client. Because it’s no good to email them saying, “I need this from you,” and then two days later, texting and saying, “Oh, I forgot, I also need this from you.”
That comes off as unprofessional. So you need to have a strong onboarding sequence in the sense of, how will you accept what you need from that client, in a way that’s very structured and organized and very clear for your client.
You don’t want to overwhelm them with work…you want a very streamlined and effective way of getting what you need from them, in a way that makes them feel secure and taken care of.
Also Should Include:
Another aspect to this work part of the onboarding process is setting client expectations and guidelines.
One thing that I always encourage my students to do is to make sure that their clients know how to communicate with them. It is not acceptable for you as a freelancer to say, “You can text me, you can private message me, you can email me, you can send me a handwritten letter.”
That’s no good because then you find yourself manning different platforms for multiple clients and things will fall through the cracks. It’s very important in the onboarding process to be very clear about how you will be communicating with your client and how you will accept communication from them. I prefer email. I prefer one channel per client. So if it’s gonna be via text message, then it will only be via text message, not multiple platforms, preferably.
You also need to know what steps you’re going to take if you get this client. Meaning, do you have your invoicing system software ready? You want that already set up and ready to go, branded to your company.
These things are very important in a strong onboarding process and you want to have those two phases done, the welcome and the work process, before you actually begin marketing, which is Phase 4.
Let me know in the comments which phase you’re in!