One of my most popular LinkedIn posts went like this:
Client: I need a carousel adding to my website homepage
£20/hr web developer: Okay!
£50/hr web developer: I can see that you'd like to showcase your latest content on your homepage to keep it fresh. However, the data suggests that carousels are not the best way to achieve this. Users typically don't engage with them and they can slow down page loading times, crucial to SEO. Here is what I would suggest instead...
Which web developer are you?
It seemed to resonate with a lot of freelancers (and indeed, clients) who understand the value of offering alternative suggestions rather than simply doing what is asked.
When I first started as a freelancer, I used to want clients to tell me exactly what they wanted. But I soon learned that a) most clients don’t really know what they want and b) when they do, often their solutions contain a number of questionable ideas.
You see, it isn’t the client’s job to dictate how we get to the solution. It is the client’s role to bring the vision, or at least, the problem. The best solution should then be devised by both the freelancer and the client together.
It isn’t the client’s job to dictate how we get to the solution.
Freelancers who simply do what they are asked without question are doing a disservice to their clients (and to themselves). And clients who make demands based only on their own preferences are missing out on the years of knowledge and experience that a freelancer can bring to the table.
I would not hire an interior designer then proceed to micromanage their every decision. That is because I know very little about interior design. An interior designer can advise me on how best to use the space, which textures to go for, how shadow and light can affect the mood. They can design an overall concept for the room in ways that I simply cannot (no matter how much I thought I could).
Instead of trying to prescribe how they designed the room, I would offer a problem, such as pointing out a space that doesn’t have enough seating for when friends visit. What I would not say is “please buy this particular chair in this colour and place it in this spot in the room”. Because that would be a monumental waste of money on my part and a depressing waste of time for the designer.
I would not hire an interior designer then proceed to micromanage their every decision
So if you’re a freelance service provider, try to understand your client’s end-goal. Have your clients articulate their problem, and steer them away from trying to impose their own solution. A better piece of work will be done all-round. One that you can charge a higher rate for, and one that you’ll actually be happy working on.
For years I struggled against the many challenges that came with managing picky and demanding clients. But with a few clever techniques and practices, you can get ahead of the game.
If you'd like to run a more peaceful and profitable freelance business, download my ebook Thriving in the Face of Danger now.