At Hat Trick Associates, we like to share information that better prepares ourselves and even our competitors when it comes to successful web content writing and other online services. (Why? Because we often partner with other freelancers in what we do, and education is a primary goal for our company) When being a freelancer things can go wrong because we haven’t properly prepared. Today we have put together a list of sort of rules to follow as a web freelancer or web content writer, let us know which of these you follow and which ones you wish you knew before something bad happened.

Always get a deposit

This is a tricky one but a must. It is important that they give you a percent of the price up front to insure you get paid for your work. The typical rate is from 25% to 50% depending on the size of the project. However this can back fire for clients as I’m sure its happened to most of you, I recently hired someone to redesign WebDesignDev and I paid 50%, when he showed me the design I told him I liked the concept but it lacked design, he turned on me and said its obvious you won’t like it so you can either pay me 25% more for PSD or I will just go with your deposit. Everyone has this doubt and it does happen often, reassure your clients about this and make sure you will be there for them, you will follow out the work you have been set to do or you will refund them.


Get 100% verification of what you must do for your client

When starting a new project with a client, be sure to find our 100% exactly what it is you need to do. There is no point in starting a project if your unsure. You will get half way through it and then client will say its all wrong. You will just be wasting time, so get verification.

Decide an hourly rate or rate on a project basis

It depends a lot on the freelancer which works best for them. If you like to take your time and  get it perfect then hourly rates are the way to go for you. If you work fast and because of this value your time more highly then you could consider a price per project. However in experience I have found working a hourly rate allows more freedom to explore ideas and get things perfect. It also means that if the client wants revision after revision then you can keep going as you will be paid more.

Never ask for referrals

Don’t ask your clients for referrals. If they say you have done a good job for them, then I’m sure they will refer you to friends, and most likely come back themselves. Asking for referrals can make you sound desperate for work.

Offer incentives to your regular customers

If you regally go out to eat at a restaurant, and the restaurant know you are regular customers and know you, then I am sure every once in a while they put drinks on the house etc, as a reward for coming back to them. Freelancers should do this with their regular clients, to let them know they are special.

Keep your clients notified

This can help you gain / keep that professional status. If you notify your clients every time you reach a checkpoint, then they can stay updated, and it keeps them informed on how fast you’re working and generally what’s going on at your end.


If you’re hosting for them, remind them of costs

Hosting clients websites can be a good upsell you can use on your clients but its very important if you are offering it that you let them know that there will be further payments to make, perhaps on a monthly or yearly basis. Make sure you make this clear when you quote the price for hosting or domain names.

Be Honest

Be honest with your clients. An example would be if you wanted more work, just say to them, hey if you have any more design projects that need completing, feel free to send them across as I’m a bit short of work at the moment. If the client likes your work and the way you do things, they will sure take you up on the offer – that is if they have any more work.

Keep business and friendship separate

So often great friends fool out before they do business together. Keep a strict rule that you don’t work with friends however tempting it may be.

Be flexible

You need to be flexible, for instance if you were meant to be having a conference call with one of your clients, and they did not show, be prepared to rearrange your schedule and tackle something else. If they show late then reschedule again.

Use Social Networking Sites

Freelance designers should use social networking sites to promote themselves, and connect with clients. Some of these sites specific to design are allfreelancework, linkedin and deviantart.


Know your clients by name

If you know your clients by name, then they will feel comfortable employing you to complete their web design / graphic design project. On the other hand if you can’t remember their name, they may think you’re a really really busy person who has no time for them. Clients are number 1 priority – after all they pay your bills.

Make conversation with your clients

Freelancers don’t always have to talk about the project in hand. Make small talk with your clients on a personal level, maybe about sport, or hobbies etc. The client will like the fact that you are interested in them, and will most probably come back for more work.

Have set prices for follow up work

Quite often you will be hired to do a design job, be specific about what is included and make it clear that anything on top will cost more money. For example they may ask for revisions, new sub pages, other small features. Your time is money and make that clear.

Learn how to say no

With all freelancers, it may get to a point where you have a lot of work, and your mates may ring up and ask you to come out for a drink. You need to learn how to say no, no matter how tempting the offer maybe, if you have a website that needs to be emailed to a client within the next hour, or a design project that needs finishing off, then that takes priority to keep you staying professional.

Set completion dates

Its important that you set a date to complete, this is good for yourself and the customer. Customers are always excited to see what you have come up with so make sure you give them a date to keep them happy. It will also make you more organized so that you can plan future work and time off.


Be Persistent

Don’t forget about something if you don’t get a response. Chase people up, but not to the stage where it’s annoying. Showcase your work and sell yourself to new clients.

Always offer a top notch service

You should always offer a top notch service, whoever the client. If they are really bossy you have to deal with it and stay professional. If you offer a top notch service, customers are sure to refer you and come back for later work.

The customer is always right (with exceptions)

Ever heard the phrase the customer is always right? Generally speaking they are, but sometimes they can be wrong, very wrong. If the client has given you a spec and you have completed the design, and they said it’s not as they described, they wanted a red color scheme when they clearly said in the brief they wanted a green color scheme, they are wrong. You just have to deal with fussy clients like that on a professional and mature level.

Go that extra mile

To make yourself stand out from the freelancer crowd, go that extra mile for your clients. If you have just designed a beautiful website for them, go the extra mile and say you know what, how about I upload that for you? No extra expenses. It doesn’t cost you anything, and your client will be amazed at your level of service and will be sure to come back time and time again.