The world of freelancing is open to thousands of millions of wonderful possibilities—but don’t let that freedom become a risk because of poor communication. Bad communication can seriously threaten your career and certainly your livelihood. Communication, if not the most important, is one of the top skills you need to master being a successful freelancer and avoid having to call it quits and find a desk job.

Even before landing the gig, a lack of quality communication can be a death sentence for a freelancer. If you don’t effectively communicate your skill-set or experiences in a proposal you won’t get hired. If you can’t be open and honest about missing a deadline bad consequences could follow. If you aren’t upfront about your worth, project timeline, and how much you need to be paid, you could be doing a lot of work for very little pay-off. If you can’t ask the right questions the project and situations can very quickly get out of control.

You need to be able to ask the right questions and completely listen to and understand what your client expects and wants—getting crucial information and details upfront can save you from having to produce three, four, five mock-ups and increase the amount of revisions you have to do before the client is satisfied. Sometimes a client might not understand the true extent of their project, so being clear about how much effort and time it will take to complete can ease the process and help build a stronger relationship.

To save more time via good communication, be sure to check out our post detailing the construction of a solid proposal, so we’ll move right into communication necessities after you’re successfully hired.


  • Look through the job details and ask questions about anything you’re unclear on; don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on things you think you might know but aren’t sure of. Ask them about the nitty gritty: tone, style, personal brand, color scheme, samples of work similar to what they’re looking for or generally like.
  • Ask about their end vision and what the perfect product would be. Doing all of this groundwork will save you so much time in the long-run, and will show the client you know what you’re doing.
  • After you have that information, make it very clear how much time it will take you to complete each task, and ask them if they want updates or just want to see the first mock-up. Consider establishing a “drip” of sorts: if they want 15 things, see if they would like 3 things every 2 days, for example.
  • Be upfront about the business overhead and the additional research and the time that might take you. Some people might think a logo can immediately be made, so you need to be sure to tell them about the extra tasks you’ll have to do that they might not have accounted for.
  • Send them your first draft or sample or what-have-you, and explain the decisions you made, why you made this look like that, and so on. Be clear and upfront about how you think your sample is what they want. Ask questions about things they don’t like. Once again, make sure you get as much info as possible to save yourself and your client time in the end.


  • Don’t be afraid of a phone call or a skype session, but be honest about what kind of communication you’re most comfortable with: if it’s an email, fine, but be clear about when you’ll be responsive and when contact will be difficult.
  • Attempt to standardize your process of communication. If you have a set system (for instance: 1st day of a project I ask x, y, and z questions, 2nd day of the project I update with a, b, and c; only respond in the mornings or evenings, etc.), it will save you time in the long run.

Remember that ultimately you’re providing a service for somebody else: keeping this in mind, listening is far more important than talking. It is about what the client wants, not what you think they want, and not what you think might be better than what they want.


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