Got my first client. What now?

4 years ago from , Stuff maker

I've scored my first client via friend referral. Though I got a full time product designer job, this is my first time handling a project for a client. I'm the sole designer that would handle the redesign of her website. Would be working closely with their marketing team and the PM.

Any tips, tools, or short step-by-step guide so I don't screw this one up?

Help a brother out. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 4 years ago
    1. Write out what you're going to do and what the client is going to pay. Both of you sign
    2. Do the thing
    3. Get paid
    23 points
    • Esther Schindler, 4 years ago

      Also, you can't be too detailed about step #1.

      Be really explicit about who is doing what, when. Make sure you explain what is and isn't included in the What. And who owns what.

      Be very clear about payment, and how to identify the points where you say, "Where's my money?" Most freelancers learn to ask for an advance of some kind. (Often 1/3 at signing, 1/3 at a halfway point -- which you document clearly -- and 1/3 when all is complete -- and define "complete.")

      I have found, in 30+ years of freelancing, that when something is documented there isn't a problem. You might grouse to discover that damn, you did say in the contract that you'd include the source code. But the lawyers make their money on what is left out of the agreement. For instance I had one huge job, which somehow left out, "How much will client pay freelancer if the project is canceled" and I got completely screwed in that deal.

      8 points
      • Patrik Arvidson, 4 years ago

        +1 on this. I've been through several projects where a solid agreement wasn't written out and every single time it has come back to bite me in the ass one way or another. On top of that there's not an issue to add on more work, but you have to define a clear line of what's included and what's not, and that they will need to pay more for what's not included.

        I usually aim towards getting paid on a monthly basis, but I realize that it's different in Sweden than other countries.

        And as someone else wrote here, I'd also recommend communicating with the client often and to keep them in the loop. It's a bad thing if they ask for a project update if the reason is lack of communication on your part.

        1 point
  • abhi .abhi ., 4 years ago

    God bless you. ✋

    4 points
  • Ismael Branco, 4 years ago

    Step 1. Don't be a brick Step 2. Do what they want you to do Step 3. If you have any question, ask

    It's not about the process, it's about the capability of you to adapt to others. Be a teamplayer, but don't share everything and don't ask too much.

    Just be yourself and do the best work you can!

    GL mate

    4 points
    • Dennis AnderssonDennis Andersson, 4 years ago


      Be honest but not pushy. If you feel a certain decision of theirs is wrong or could be better, tell them so and explain why, thoroughly. They will - I've yet to meet a team/person that didn't - appreciate the effort but it's not a guarantee they fill follow your advice. It does however make them more comfortable asking you for advice moving forward.

      No matter the outcome of a discussion, decision or compromise - do the best work you possibly can. Communication is boss!

      5 points
  • Gokhun GuneyhanGokhun Guneyhan, 4 years ago


    If they know you also work full-time, they will probably understand your late replies, but still, try replying them asap when they have any questions. Even if you wouldn't be able to, just let them know you read their email and will write back in a few hours. (and trying doing that before they leave the office). Everyone appreciates fast communication and in time, it will help them understand you really mean it when you say you didn't have time.

    Being flexible with the scope of work/timing is acceptable to some extent, be careful. From my experience, clients via friend referrals tend to abuse the 'relationship' between you, so be clear on what's agreed initially unless they're happy to pay for your extra time. Also be clear on the payment terms.

    And take your friend to a dinner/lunch when you get paid :)

    Good luck.

    3 points
  • Austin PriceAustin Price, 4 years ago

    Absolutely setup a contract. It doesn't have to be anything super detailed, just something that puts everything (scope, payment, timeline, etc.) in writing.

    It's not just about protecting you legally, but it's also a chance to have conversations about everything upfront to make sure you're on the same page.

    1 point
  • Gene M, 4 years ago

    Don't hesitate to ask for 50% up front, even on large projects. Like others have said, spell out everything in a contract of what's included and what isn't.

    One of the most common issues I face as a freelance designer are clients who delay their feedback to me, resulting in delays. These delays will cost YOU. Make sure to spell out contingent terms on such delays or factors it into your prices.

    0 points
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, 4 years ago

    Upvote for pretty much everything others have written here, and I'd add that since you're doing this on the side of your full time job, set expectations around response times.

    0 points