The beginning to every successful client project should start with some sort of brief. You can chat it over in a coffee shop, make a call on Skype, or simply go back and forth over an email.
It’s important for you as the freelancer to fully understand the client’s needs in and out, and it’s important for the client to fully understand what it is you need in order to get the job done.
I’ve automated the process of project briefing about a year ago. It has helped with getting more referrals, saves time and has helped filter out any unwanted projects. I want to share with you the importance of briefing your clients, what goes into it, and how you too can automate this process for your freelance business.
Why project briefing is important
Like I mentioned above, it’s important that both the freelancer and the client fully understand each other’s needs.
Not every project will require a lot of detail, so even asking a few questions via email can easily brief an entire project.
But when it comes to a new logo or website, an in-depth project brief should always be conducted. If not, you’re just setting yourself up for complications further down the road, and doing yourself a disservice.
Having a project brief in place gives you the chance to ask questions that the client might otherwise overlook, so it’s important for you to know what you need to ask in order to make the project go as smooth as possible for both yourself and the client.
What goes into a project brief?
As soon as you make first contact with a potential client, chances are they’re looking to get a quote on their project. This is your chance to cover everything you need to know in order to provide them with an accurate estimate.
Make note of the client’s basic contact information, understand what may have been provided thus far, then prepare your project brief.
To help you get started, here are some general questions that would apply to a website or logo project:
- How many people will be in charge of the decision making?
- Can you describe your business and it’s services?
- Who’s your target audience?
- Who are your main competitors and how are you different?
- What’s the main focus or problem you’re trying to solve with your website?
- What are some [websites or logos] out there that appeal to you?
- What feelings do you have about your current or past [website or logo]?
- Do you have a specific color preference, existing brand, and/or colors you do not wish to include in your rebrand?
- When are you looking to get started?
- Deadline, timing or exact date of completion?
- What is your budget? (Feel free to include your starting prices)
I’d suggest you organize the questions in the order you would need the answers: Start with the client and get to know them. After that, get introduced to their target market. Then get to know the project and it’s finer details. Finally you can end with the project time-frame and it’s budget.
Automating the briefing process to save time & filter the unwanted
Like I mentioned, I automated the project briefing process about a year ago, and it’s helped me tremendously. It saves time, the brief is always “on file” in my email, and doing this even helps filter out the unwanted projects.
Since I only have to take the time to create the brief once, it saves time for when I need to gather information from the client. When it comes time, I simply include a link to the brief and ask if they could fill it out at their earliest convenience.
A link to a professional, organized and secure form looks way better than a giant list of questions in an email, and I’ll always get the required information needed due to the required text-fields.
I also really enjoy handling my project briefing this way, because all submissions are sent directly to me via email, so they’re always “on file” for when I need to reference back to them.
Lastly, it also filters out any unwanted projects.
The clients that aren’t willing to take the time to understand their own project requirements are ones I have no interest in working with. There’s a difference between those that don’t know what they want, and those that just aren’t interested in working with me. If they’re willing to take some extra time to start the project off on the right foot, then they’re someone I want to work with!
Reference both of my project forms on my contact page, and feel free to use them as a base for your own briefing solution.
Conduct a follow-up brief
Here’s where you can get a lot of feedback on your process and get more referrals!
Once a project is complete, either shoot a couple questions off in an email or politely ask if the client would be willing to fill out a simple follow-up survey.
Here are some follow-up questions you could ask after a project:
- How well did the project go for you?
- Do you have any suggestions for me?
- Will this project need any updates at some point?
- Are there any other projects that I can do for you?
- How often are you in need of [graphic design, writing, programming, consulting] services?
- Can I showcase this work in my portfolio or on my Dribbble account?
- Would you be willing to give a testimonial on the service(s) I provided?
- Would you happen to know of anyone else that would be in need of my services? I’d love to introduce myself.
With the response you now have the information to improve your services, possibly continue working for that client, a new piece to update your portfolio with, and/or a new lead to take action on!
As you can see, briefing before and after a project is extremely beneficial for you and your clients.
Do you brief your clients? What’s your process, and what questions do you like to ask?
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