11 Tips For Successfully Managing Freelance Design Clients

If you’re reading this, chances are that you have a freelance design practice and have been asked to manage a client or two. You may be thinking to yourself, “I can do that!” It’s true: freelancing is an exciting way to make a living and provide value for your clients. However, managing clients requires specific skills that some designers don’t know they need until they’ve already taken on one or two projects.

In this article, I’ll share my top strategies from my experience as a designer who runs his own business. I hope these tips will help you avoid common pitfalls and increase your success rate with clients

3 TIPS to become a Graphic Designer | Find clients
Successfully managing freelance design clients requires clear communication, setting boundaries, and delivering quality work.
Building strong relationships with clients is key to long-term success as a freelance designer.
Pricing your freelance design services appropriately is crucial for a sustainable business.
Creating a strong online presence through a professional website and social media can help attract new clients.
Continuing to learn and improve your design skills is important for staying competitive in the industry.

1. Before You Begin A New Project, Make Sure That You Have Your Clients’ Contact Details

Before you begin a new project, make sure that you have your clients’ contact details, including phone numbers and email addresses.

Why? You don’t want to have to resort to sending messages through Facebook or LinkedIn if something goes wrong with the project and you need to get in touch with them. I’ve had situations where I’ve been unable to reach my client because they didn’t have a working mobile phone number or email address, so it’s not worth risking this happening again by not having their contact details before we start work together.

What happens if I don’t have my clients’ contact details? Well, if there’s an urgent issue with the project (or any other reason), then it’s very difficult for me as a freelancer to find out what’s going on when I can’t contact them. This would leave both parties frustrated and annoyed, especially if there were deadlines involved too!

Are you new to freelancing and not sure where to start? Our guide on web design freelancing for dummies can provide you with essential tips and tricks to get started on the right track.

2. It’s Your Responsibility To Keep On Top Of Your Schedules And Deadlines

The first step to managing a freelance client is accepting that it’s your responsibility. As a freelancer, it’s your job to keep on top of your schedules and deadlines. It’s not their job.

You will face pressure from clients who want you to work faster or harder. You must not give in to this pressure! You’ll only end up resenting them later when they don’t pay attention to what they’re asking for and then expect a discount because “you did all the work.”

3. Make Sure That You Plan And Create A Clear Schedule And Workflow For Each Job Before You Start

Freelancing is a fantastic way to make money, but it can be difficult if you don’t have the best work habits. To be successful as a freelancer, you need to be able to plan and create a clear schedule and workflow for each job before you start. 

This will help ensure that your client gets what they want in the time frame agreed upon and helps make sure that you can manage your time effectively. It also helps prevent overbooking yourself on multiple projects at once.

Prioritizing tasks is also key when managing clients; if something comes up or needs more attention than another task on the list then it should always take precedence over other things that need to be done right now.

4. You Need An Efficient System For Keeping Track Of All The Jobs That You Have Going On At Once

Once you have a steady stream of freelance design clients, you’ll need to keep track of all the jobs that you’re working on at any given time. It’s important to know when each project is due so that you can make sure it gets done on time, and it’s also helpful for billing purposes (more on this later).

You may want to use one system for each type of job or project so that everything stays organized. Here are some options:

A spreadsheet or other digital tool; For example, Trello is great for managing projects with multiple tasks and keeping track of deadlines. Or if you prefer something more visual (and tactile), Post-its work just as well!

A simple list kept somewhere obvious (such as a whiteboard); might take more effort than using an app like Trello but having your jobs in one place will ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle when there are too many other things going on around them. Plus something is satisfying about crossing something off your list once it’s done!

A calendar app like Google Calendar/iCalendar; although these won’t help with task management or budgeting (see below), they do allow clients who don’t use computers access without having to install anything else first which can be helpful when dealing with those who aren’t familiar with technology yet still have jobs needing to be done ASAP!

Are you considering a career as a freelance web developer? Our step-by-step guide on how to become a freelance web developer can help you navigate the process and set yourself up for success.

5. Provide Brief Status Reports Once Or Twice A Week To Keep Your Client Up-To-Date On Your Progress

In addition to being a great way for you and your client to gauge progress, a status report can help your client keep you in the loop. As long as he or she knows what’s going on with the project, they don’t have any reason to worry that something is amiss and when there are no worries, there are fewer questions.

So how often should you provide these reports? Once or twice a week is probably enough; as long as it doesn’t take up too much of your time, this frequency will keep things moving smoothly without bogging down communication. 

And if anything does come up that merits explanation whether it be another project request or an issue with another client the report will provide an opportunity for discussion and resolution rather than confusion later on!

6. Send Your Invoices Regularly; Most Clients Prefer To Receive Them Monthly

While it might not seem like a big deal, the frequency with which you send your invoices can make a big difference in the quality of service your client receives. Most clients prefer to receive them once a month, but some will be satisfied with weekly or even daily invoices. You may also send invoices at irregular intervals (e.g., yearly), but this can be a bit confusing for your clients since they’re used to receiving monthly statements.

7. Use Project Management Software Such As Basecamp To Easily Track Tasks

Project management software is a great way to keep track of your clients, tasks, and projects. We recommend Basecamp because it’s easy to use and offers a lot of functionality for its price point. If you’d like to explore other options, we suggest looking at Asana or Trello.

Basecamp helps you manage your clients by making communication between them and yourself seamless through its messaging feature. It also allows for easy file sharing, so if you need to send over some assets or example work that pertains specifically to the project at hand then this is where they will go (and only here!). 

You can also easily keep track of any milestones that have been reached during each phase of the project lifecycle by setting up checklists within each task list entry; this way both parties have an idea as to what needs to be done next before moving on from one stage in order receive feedback from each other on how things are progressing overall.”

Is your freelance web developer falling short of expectations? Check out our article on 8 signs your freelance web developer needs to be fired to know when it’s time to cut ties and find someone better suited for your needs.

8. If A Job Is Complicated, Ask Potential Clients If They Would Be Willing To Provide A Brief

A questionnaire can help you to understand the client’s needs more clearly. It’s often helpful to have a list of questions that will help you gain insight into what a potential client wants, including their expectations and objectives.

If your job is complicated, ask potential clients if they would be willing to provide a brief in the form of a questionnaire. This will save time for both parties and help ensure that everyone is on the same page going into the project.

9. Do Not Hesitate To Refund The Difference 

As a freelance designer, you are responsible for taking care of your clients. You should always strive to provide the best service possible, and if this means adjusting your billing to accommodate an old client’s needs, don’t hesitate it’ll only cement their loyalty to you.

So if you find yourself overcharging an old client, don’t be afraid to re-bill them for the difference or even credit their account with a small amount in appreciation of their patience (and loyalty). Just make sure that whatever reason you have for correcting is accurate–you want it to be clear that there was no malicious intent behind the mistake.

10. Meet In Person

When possible, try to meet in person with every client before you start any work for them. This is a good practice because it helps you build trust and rapport, clarifies expectations and establishes a working relationship, sets deadlines and payment terms, and establishes a schedule of communication that will make your job easier throughout the project.

Managing freelance design clients can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our article on 17 tips for almost stress-free freelance design clients provides practical advice to make the process smoother and more enjoyable.

11. Putting Together Proposals Can Be Time-Consuming Work

Putting together a proposal is a time-consuming task, and when you’re just starting, it can feel like an uphill battle. Not only do you have to provide all of your client’s information in the proposal, but also make sure everything is spelled correctly and looks half decent.

It’s easy for clients to get caught up in their daily lives and forget to respond within three days after receiving your proposal (this is especially true if you’ve sent them multiple proposals). Following up with each one individually via email using templates saves time and makes sure that you’re not forgetting anyone.

Do you dream of starting a freelance web development business but don’t know how to balance it with your full-time job? Our guide on how you can start a freelance web development business while working full-time offers insights and actionable tips to help you make your dream a reality.

Final Thoughts

This article has covered a lot of ground, so it’s time, to sum up. As a freelancer managing freelance clients, the key takeaway is that there are numerous ways in which you can improve your business and increase your profits by understanding how much value your clients place on each stage of the project lifecycle.

To achieve this, ask questions early and often to gain clarity about what’s important for them at each stage. Then use that information to create realistic timelines and estimates for each phase of the project lifecycle without being too aggressive or conservative with your projections.

Having said that, bear in mind that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to estimating projects so feel free to experiment with different ways of doing things until you find what works best for both parties involved!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help freelance designers:

11 Practical Tips for Freelance Designers by Mayer Design: A comprehensive guide with practical tips and tricks for freelance designers to succeed in the industry.

Freelancer Toolkit: Manage Your Freelance Business by 99designs: A collection of resources, templates, and tools to help freelance designers manage their business more effectively.

Freelance Designer Tips by Renderforest: A blog post with useful tips for freelance designers to improve their business and creative skills.


How can I find freelance design clients?

You can find freelance design clients by networking, using online platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, and creating a strong online presence through social media and a professional website.

How much should I charge for freelance design work?

Your freelance design rates will depend on your experience, skill level, and the type of project. It’s important to research industry standards and take into account factors like time, effort, and expenses when setting your rates.

How can I manage my freelance design projects effectively?

You can manage your freelance design projects effectively by using project management tools, setting clear expectations with clients, and communicating regularly to ensure that the project stays on track.

How do I build a strong portfolio as a freelance designer?

To build a strong portfolio as a freelance designer, you should showcase your best work, tailor your portfolio to your target clients, and keep it updated with your latest projects and skills.

How can I improve my design skills as a freelance designer?

You can improve your design skills as a freelance designer by taking online courses, attending workshops and conferences, seeking feedback from peers and mentors, and practicing regularly.

What Are The Best Ways To Manage Your Time?

To manage your time as a freelance designer, it is important to keep track of all client work and projects. This can be done through an invoicing system and by using project management software like Asana or Trello. The process of billing clients can also be automated using invoicing platforms like Freshbooks or Quickbooks Online.

Why Are You Using A Freelance Designer?

If it’s because they’re cheaper than an in-house team (and there are some cases where that may be true), then keep in mind that it can be more expensive in the long run. For example, if they get sick or injured and aren’t able to work on your project anymore, then not only will they still want to get paid but their replacement might cost more than them anyway!

What Is The Difference Between A Freelancer And An Agency? 

In short: one provides more hands-on service while another provides more administrative support. However, there’s no hard rule about which option is better for every situation so think carefully about what each partner offers before deciding which route would work best for your company’s needs at this time!

What Is The Best Way To Get A Client To Pay You?

It’s important that you set clear expectations and communicate these with your clients. The easiest way for them to understand your expectations is by using a contract, which will outline what, when, and how much they’re expected to pay.

You should also request that they sign it at the very start of your project (before any work has been done), so there’s nothing more for them to think about or negotiate later on down the line. This will make it harder for them not to do what they’ve agreed upon in writing!

How Do I Get More Clients?

This is a great question and one that we hear all the time. The first thing to remember is that getting clients isn’t a matter of being lucky or having a lot of connections it’s about understanding your market and being intentional about building your network. There are many different ways to approach this, but here are some basic steps you can take:

  • Ask for referrals from current clients and colleagues. Make sure you have a referral program in place so people feel comfortable referring business to you!
  • Network at events related to your industry conferences, meetups, etc. This will help grow both your professional network as well as awareness around what services Freelancers Union offers its members (which includes access to discounted studio space).

How Do I Get More Referrals?

Referral programs are an easy way for freelancers like us at Flux Studio who offer design services professionally to find new customers without spending much money on advertising campaigns or SEO practices that may not work out in terms of return on investment (ROI). 

When someone refers another person they know who needs similar services provided by our company then we receive additional income which helps grow business over time through word-of-mouth marketing efforts initiated by existing customers spreading goodwill outwards across social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook Live broadcasts

Where questions are asked live during each episode allowing viewers interested in learning more about how other companies operate while also serving their personal needs when searching for answers related specifically to running businesses successfully within their respective markets which usually involves finding professionals with expertise related directly to any given topic under question posted online today by someone else looking for advice themselves just like yours truly right now!

How Do I Get A Client To Pay Me Faster?

That’s a great question. Here are some general guidelines:

Make sure you have a contract in place that clearly outlines the terms and conditions of your agreement with the client. This should include an agreed-upon payment schedule and any additional fees (such as late payments) that may apply. If there are delays in getting paid, for whatever reason, it will be much easier for both parties if there is clear documentation on what is owed and when it should be paid by.

Talk about payment upfront with potential clients even before any work has been done. Tell them that you prefer to be paid upfront or at least partially upfront so there aren’t any surprises later on down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like “What’s your preferred method of payment?” or “How soon would you like me to invoice?”

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