One of the things I think gets any freelance artist nervous beyond words, no matter how seasoned they are, is the consultation – not the trial run – the consultation. ( Side : if you are a freelance artist not willing to meet a client for a complimentary consultation because you aren’t getting paid for it, well … you should rethink that choice … ).
In an age of emails, Facebook / Twitter direct messaging, and form pages on a website, the art of communicating … really communicating … with a potential client is essential to placing you above the rest of the freelancers they are currently shopping.
Being a freelancer is like dating. Period. Consider the consultation as the initial meet up or the coffee date before the big first dinner date ( which in BlushPretty’s world could be the trial run, the beauty event itself, the wedding day … you get what I’m saying ). It’s the chance for both the freelancer and the client to make sure they mesh before dedicating any more of their time to each other. After all, if sparks aren’t going to fly at the coffee date … why would you sit and suffer through a movie and a dinner and a quiet drive home?! The consultation is a way of respecting each other’s time by not wasting any of it.
The consultation is the perfect opportunity to suss out some key details before agreeing to the larger project/event at hand and freelancers should use it as a means to assess the following:
what the client truly needs from you : an introductory email provides the key details but sometimes they need fleshing out. And yes, follow-up emails can do that but words, phrases, and statements can often be read two ways or remain unclear. Face to face communication will allow you to really read each other and understand what is being requested, and also, to ask questions and discover new pieces of information that didn’t seem relevant at first … but proved otherwise.
what the client thinks of your work : while images of your work can be found online in your gallery, showing your client your work IRL (i’m so on top of the short form) allows you to explain to them your work in detail and the concept behind each project / look. Every client is different, so even though a completed project in your portfolio was deemed awesome by the client who commissioned you for it, your new potential client might feel it’s not their cup of tea. If that’s the case, you can show them a whole new side to that project and speak to them about the techniques you used, how you learned from it, and how you can take that experience to better help them. This is so much better than letting them create judgement on the image/project alone.
what the client expects of you : so to backtrack a bit, yes, I relate the consultation to dating … but it doesn’t mean you and the client are exactly equals. The consultation is where the client will let you know the W5H and more of what they are looking for and what they expect of you, your brand, your team, or your company. While you have every right to say no to a client if the fit isn’t right, your job at the consultation is too listen to them and make mental notes on what you can and cannot provide.
I know that the above is common sense to most savvy entrepreneurs and freelancers out there, but its funny how when building your career hits full speed, you forget the importance of treating each client with the proper respect they deserve. The consultation is the first step is showing them respect.
Now this is only the half of it when it comes to successful consultations with clients … I have plenty more to say about how to conduct a consultation that I want to share with you but …you’re going to have to wait!
Thanks for reading up on the blog today, and I promise you, Part 2 will come soon!
Have a great week everyone,