The good, the bad, and the ugly. All freelancers should know how to remain professional when dealing with a difficult client. Or at least, how to identify a poor project request, that can only mean troubles, and avoid it at all times.
On the other hand, as freelancers, we cannot expect better requests if we don’t point the problem!
Do you work with freelancers? Then this article is also for you! Learn what makes a good project request and ensure your next request grants you the interest of the best professionals.
Defining the problem: what are poor project requests?
When you freelance, you will often get project requests that are very poorly defined. This can make it difficult to know how to proceed and can lead to frustration on both your part and the client’s part. Bad request usually means one thing: not enough information or misleading information.
Not providing enough information can be extremely frustrating for the freelancers. It is hard to believe but there are requests that miss such basic data as the project scope, expected deliverables or deadline. The budget is not less important – if not defined correctly, can lead to very unpleasant situations. Poor requests are also the ones that are written vaguely or in a sloppy manner. They may contain mistakes and contradictory information, for example have two different deadlines.
On the other hand, over-complicated requests can turn out to be difficult as well. Lengthy descriptions of the company that do not bring much relevant info may distract the reader from the core information. Keep in mind as well that search engines rank long descriptions lower than concise, clear, and direct ones.
Why do clients make poor project requests?
There are a number of reasons why clients may make poor project requests. They may not be clear on what they want themselves, or they may not be able to articulate their needs. Even though sometimes those poorly written requests may be annoying, do not let the emotions control you. It is completely natural for the client to make these mistakes, as they are not experts in your field. In both cases, your expertise as a freelancer can be of much help. By presenting the available options or asking simple questions, you may lead the client to a better understanding of their needs.
How can you deal with poor project requests?
There are a few things you can do when you receive a poor project request. First, try to understand what the client is looking for. If you can’t figure it out, ask them to clarify their goals. Once you know what they are trying to achieve, you can give them some options for how to proceed. In some cases, you may even be able to negotiate a higher price in exchange for more detailed instructions. As mentioned before, some clients simply need a helping hand to understand or articulate their needs.
Imagine that you are a branding specialist, and a new client comes to you for “branding for their company”. As you may figure out, one does the company branding only once, or a few times during the company lifetime. So, it is completely understandable if they are not familiar with the details of this job. A good approach would be to show them what options they have. It may be, for example, creation of a brand identity, brand voice, logo, and a style guide. Don’t forget to explain why such a package will suit their needs. Remember, it is a both way communication: if you want the client to be satisfied with your offer, invest some time to talk to them and analyze their needs.
Beware though because some may try to make use of you by playing dumb. If because of the explanations the project scope increases, make sure that you inform the client upfront about how it affects the final price. Upon receiving the final work, some may pretend they did not request your extra effort and deny the additional cost. It is best to always inform the client on the price on writing and request their written approval before starting the work.
Why writing a good project request is worth your time?
A good project request is important because it helps the freelancer understand exactly what the client wants and needs, and also sets clear expectations for the project. Before you create a project request, sit down, and try to write down your expectations. What should the final work be? What is the budget you have prepared for it? When do you need it? The more detailed description of your idea you can provide, the better chances for finding a professional who will be able to meet your expectations.
Are you uncertain about your needs? Try to do some research! If you need a marketing campaign for your new product, check what are the services provided by the marketers in your area. You can also research other project requests for similar service. If you encounter things you don’t understand, do not hesitate to reach out to the professionals with questions. For example, why is the SEO strategy important? I assure you; it will not take much of your time, but it will definitely help you define your needs better.
What are some elements of a good project request?
Okay, now you may say that you see the point of writing a good project request… but what does a “good” one mean? Some elements of a good project request include a project name, detailed description of the project, the desired outcome, the budget, the timeline, and any other relevant information. Think of all the specifics of your company that may have an impact on the project. For example, are your employees mostly Spanish speakers? It may be important to mark Spanish language as a requirement for the project if the freelancer will need to consult some things with them. Are you planning to go on vacation during the project development? Make sure you inform who is the contact person in case the freelancer has any questions.
You may find useful the templates, like the ones you can find on Smartsheet. They have fields for all the essential information, so using them may simplify the process. You can later publish your requests keeping the form of table or use them as a draft for creating the request text.
How can you make sure that your project request is clear and concise?
Finally, make sure you do not confuse a detailed project request with a super lengthy one. You should always try to make it as clear and concise as possible, by being specific and providing all relevant information up front. It is a clever idea to review the text before you publish your request and ask yourself if any of the info may be irrelevant for the freelancer. If so, remove the unnecessary details.
The style and form matters, as well! Long blocks of text full of complex wording or over-complicated sentences does not make your request clearer for the reader. Try to keep it formal, and avoid any unnecessary words, like emotional adjectives. It may be best to divide your request into sections, like “scope, deliverables, timeline, budget” to make it easy to read. A bulleted list is also a good idea in such situation. You may also use some simple effects, like bold type, to emphasize the most important details.
Good project starts with a good request
In conclusion, a good project request can lay a solid ground for a fruitful cooperation. It is essential for hiring a freelancer the right way. It helps the freelancer understand exactly what the client wants and needs, and also sets clear expectations for the project. Either you are a client or a freelancer, use the tips from this blog post to make sure your next project begins at full speed!