How to Avoid Misunderstandings with New Clients

Working in the online business environment can lead to different kinds of business collaborations. Many times, you will come across some understanding and supportive clients. Still, there will be times when you’ll agree to collaborate with some too demanding entrepreneurs, out of various reasons.

What’s important to know is to build your own strategy which can be applied to every new client. Here are some clever strategies that will help you understand what clients want and how to meet their requests without making too big compromises.

Talk to them in advance

The only way to realize what your client wants from you is to communicate with them before you accept their business offer.

The range and type of your communication will depend on the medium you’re communicating through. For instance, if you’ve found your client on one of the popular freelance websites, you should maintain your negotiations and other conversations through that platform.

On the other hand, those clients who weren’t contacted via freelance websites should be invited to Skype conversations. Of course, you can use some other VoIP services, as well, in case you don’t like Skype.

A video conversation with your new client will give you an opportunity to discuss all the details of your potential collaboration.

Also, this is a perfect moment to ask them a bit more about their vision of the project in question. Naturally, this part will depend on the niche you’re in. That way, a content writer might want to know what the client wants to achieve with the content they’re about to order (e.g. brand promotion, improved SEO, higher conversion rates etc.).

Moreover, a web designer could be interested in the number of features the client would like to have on their website.

Talking about all these aspects of the project in advance will help both the client and the freelancer to get a deeper insight into the project in question.

What’s more, this synergy of opinions could generate some new ideas and improve the initial concept.

Determine the project duration

One of the key features that will bring harmony to every client-freelancer collaboration is determining the duration of every project you accept.

Otherwise, you might keep working on the same project for a fixed amount of money for months. This won’t exactly be the life you hoped for.

In order to give your collaboration with a new client a fair start, there are two key elements: the negotiations and the project estimate.

As for the former one, you need to clearly define the amount of time you can commit to that project. This is imperative because being frank at this point leaves enough room for both interested parties to skip that collaboration if the terms don’t suit them.

If you and your new client have agreed on the project duration, now it’s time to give them a top-notch project estimate. Before you click on the send button in your email, double-check if you’ve included all the little details in your estimate. Think about the milestones, the payment dynamic and the number of revisions your client is allowed to make.

Talking about all these elements in advance will help you avoid misunderstandings with your clients and build your collaboration on mutual trust.

Set the number of revisions

Yes, we’ve all been there – you’re the new star in the business sky and your only goal is to jump-start your career. As a result, you accept any sort of project under any given conditions. Naturally, it doesn’t always go the way you planned and you end up dealing with the same project forever.

This is why you should limit the number of interventions your client is allowed to make from the very beginning. The best moment to bring up the case is the negotiations. If you speak your mind loud and clear at that point, the other side will see that you’re an assertive, reliable professional. In turn, they’ll have more respect for your attitude, as well.

On the other hand, agreeing with every desire your client has – revision-wise – could make them think that they’re dealing with an unmotivated slouch. Such an image won’t help you build the desired online freelance career.

For all these reasons, determine the highest number of changes you can allow within a project even before you score your first client on the Web. That way, both you and your client will know how to maintain a satisfactory collaboration.

Count on the potential difficulties

Accepting a project with a new client without a backup plan is something rookie entrepreneur often do. Their zest to kick-start their business career and build their portfolio in a jiffy is often stronger than rational thinking.

However, you should resist that tempting drive to become a business wonder overnight.

As opposed to that, give yourself some time to ascend to the business heights.

Making a B-plan is a good way to start this slower, but less hazardous climb to the top.

The first thing you should take into consideration is that the amount of work on a project might exceed the agreed one. In that case, you can terminate the contract and stop working on the project. Nevertheless, if a client is an honest person and the payment is high, you can make an exception and accept the extended duration of the project.

As a matter of fact, you can even start working on a new project simultaneously, given that you can outsource part of work to the professionals as knowledgeable as you.

Speaking about the payment, you should also be cautious when it comes to invoicing and payment conditions. If you want to get and stay on the same wavelength with new clients, you need to set all the payment terms in advance.

Similarly, make sure that your invoicing is consistent and fair both to your clients and to your business interests. In line with that, don’t allow too long payment periods – 15 or max 30 days is an optimal period for payments.

Finally, be aware of the fact that some of your clients might be late with their payments. If not discussed and agreed in advance, this could lead to major misunderstandings. Because of that, apply some of these strategies to prevent late payments and your work will be much easier.


Finding your place under the business sun is no cakewalk. You’ll be coming across some flexible and some demanding clients. What you should try is prepare your own set of rules in advance and inform every client about them before the project starts. That way, you’ll look as a genuine professional.

What’s more, you’ll also protect yourself from ending up in some business dead ends and avoid conflicts with your clients. As a result, the beginning of your entrepreneurial career will be less stressful, which will help you run a successful business life from the very beginning.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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