After You’ve Landed Your First Gig

Hello OkDork readers!

Congrats, you’ve landed your first freelance gig. But don’t break out the Cristal just yet, the most crucial part comes next: doing a kick-ass job for your client.

The first thing you need to do is agree on the scope and deliverables. This can is done through great communication and a clear contract. What goes in a typical web design contact?

Download my free, open-source contract here.

Once they’ve signed off, here are few things you can do to make sure your first (and all subsequent) clients see value from your work and are glad they hired you:

  • Actually listen. Make sure you understand everything client wants and communicate exactly what you’ll be doing for them before money is involved. Make sure both sides understand and agree to the time, money and deliverables.
  • During the project, be responsive. If there’s a question, answer it quickly. If there’s a problem, solve it and own it instead of disappearing.
  • Ensure the client is happy with your work through-out. If something’s wrong, work to fix it. A happy client is a client who’ll potentially refer more work your way.
  • After the project, follow up! Did the work meet their expectations? If so, ask for a testimonial (more on this later, it’s important). If the work met their expectations, can they think of anyone else who’d benefit from your services? Ask for a quick introduction.

Testimonials, references and referrals are so important at the beginning. Here’s quick script to use after a project is finished:

Hello [Name],

I’m so stoked we had the chance to work together. Your knowledge of your industry and audience really helped make this smooth and enjoyable on my end. I hope you’re as pleased with the results as I am.

Are you able to pass my name along to a few people that may also be interested in [what you did for that person]? If you can’t think of anyone right now, that’s not a problem.

Is it also possible to get a testimonial from you for my website?

-Paul Jarvis

First, it’s a short email, because you value their time. Second, complimenting them on what they do is always a good idea, since you’re looking to them for a compliment in the form a referral or testimonial. Third, as for referrals first, since that’s the most important. But if they don’t have any, make sure a testimonial from them is just as important.

Some testimonials are better than others. Simply having a client say “Paul is a great web designer” is good, but not as effective as, “Paul took the time to understand my business and goals and created a website that reflected that. His design work increased our sales by 500% in the first week”. I’d hire the second Paul in a second.

Here’s an example of my best testimonial:

“I rarely say flashy stuff like this, but here goes: I have a million dollar online business. Why am I telling you this? Because Paul Jarvis knows how to succeed on the web.”
Danielle LaPorte, bestselling author of The Desire Map & The FireStarter Sessions

It works because the client gives proof as to why my design work for her produces results (a million dollars worth of results). Danielle is also the top of the industry I focus on, so her name carries a lot of weight.

If your client agrees to a give testimonial but is busy, offer to write it for them (with their approval of course) or ask them to include the specific benefit they received from your work.

The key to a long-lasting freelance career is keeping your existing clients happy. Those clients then become your best (and free) sales team, making recommendations and referrals to people they know for years to come.

It may seem passive on the surface, but it takes a lot of effort to ensure every client is so happy with the end result that they shout it from the rooftop (or at least on social media).

In the end though, people will talk – so make sure they’re talking about the GREAT experience they had working with you.

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