Freelancer Best Practices

FreeUp Freelancer Communications Policy

If you’re reading this, you’ve passed the FreeUp application process. Congratulations! 

Let’s start by stating the obvious: excellent communication is what makes good freelancers great. 

We want to set you up for success. That’s what this communications policy is about. Plus, when you’re working with clients on FreeUp, you’re representing FreeUp, which has an impact on the whole community. Good experiences on FreeUp mean more clients and projects for everyone! 

Be sure to read these carefully, as not following these guidelines can result in your suspension or even removal from The FreeUp Marketplace. 

All Freelancers Must Respond to Clients Within One Business Day 

Remember: this does not apply to holidays or weekends. (Still, it’s good practice to let your client know if you’re taking a holiday.) 

Also, keep time zones in mind, and make sure you’re on the same page as clients in terms of when you’re online re: “their time” vs. “your time,” and can expect a response. 

That said, things do come up. If you fall ill or there is another event that will impact your ability to communicate in a timely manner, it falls on you to let the client (and FreeUp!) know as soon as possible. Most of the time if you set the right expectations, people are understanding. 

This should go without saying but have a back-up internet option. No internet access is not an excuse for not getting in touch with clients. 

Clients have the right to stop work or contest hours due to an uncommunicative freelancer. Don’t let that be you! 

Note: this includes your initial introduction. If you are matched to a client’s ticket, please email them an introduction within one business day!  

A Note on Following Up With Clients 

If you are waiting to hear from a client to see whether or not you’ve been hired or for additional information, please make sure you are respectful of their time and business. 

If you are having trouble getting a response from a client, you are absolutely welcome to reach out to FreeUp Support– we are happy to help get in touch. 

But please do not message them on various platforms, social media, or use communication channels that you have not used prior. 

If you are waiting on a client, you are free to pick up other jobs. FreeUp is “first-come, first-serve.” If the client returns and your schedule has changed, you can let them (and FreeUp) know. You can either work out a different arrangement, or FreeUp will assist them in finding another freelancer. 

All Freelancers Must Disclose if they are an Agency or Will Have Other Freelancers Working on the Project to the Client 

You MUST get client approval before allowing a different freelancer to work on a project. Furthermore, you must disclose to the client if you are an agency and if other freelancers will be communicating with the client or working on the project. 

Failure to follow this procedure is considered fraudulent and will result in immediate termination / removal from the platform. 

Determine the Project (including Billing and Hours) Before You Start Work

Again, this rule is all about setting and managing expectations. And please, do not begin work until you have confirmation from FreeUp that the client has hired you! 

Don’t start work on an unclear project. You should know the expected hours and productivity before you run the clock. Determine and agree on the scope of the project. Get that agreement in writing, even if it’s an email. You may need it later. 

If you do work outside of your initial agreement and charge the client, they have a right (and probably will) contest your billing. Furthermore, if you find you’re unable to meet the productivity expectations you set with the client, they have a right (and probably will) contest your billing. 

We take billing issues very seriously, so please try to avoid having your own at all costs. 

That said, we understand this can work both ways. Clients may ask you to do tasks outside of the initial agreement. Make sure to communicate if you need more hours before you start charging. Get the agreement in writing, even if it’s an email. You may need it later. 

Furthermore, if you find that clients are adding tasks that go beyond your capabilities (either skillset or time), please please let the client know and cc so we can step in and help mediate if needed. 

Determine Quality of Work Expectations 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring this up, especially since we do occasionally get complaints from clients about the quality of work completed. 

There are a few ways quality complaints go back to communications: 

  1. Don’t apply to tickets you aren’t a good match for– FreeUp is not the place for you to “try” or “practice” new skills. Remember: you’re representing the company every time you take on a project. Your performance has an impact on the entire community. 
  2. If the client is asking you to take on more than your initial agreement, reach out to immediately so we can help mediate and find a freelancer that can suit the needs that go beyond your area of expertise 
  3. Provide consistent updates and ask for feedback — as mentioned, keeping the client in the loop in regards to what you’re working on and how it’s going will mean there aren’t any bad surprises down the line. 

Define each of these from the beginning. It’s okay if you end up not being a good match for the client’s needs, as long as you’re constantly communicating and being honest about your expertise. 

Again, this works both ways– if a client is asking you to go beyond the initial scope you agreed to, and you do not feel confident, let the client and FreeUp know. It’s all about communication. 

Provide Updates to Your Clients on Projects 

Seasoned freelancers know how important it is to routinely provide updates on where you’re at with a project! 

This comes up on a regular basis, and we get it– you’re plugged in and working, and it can be tough to take a few minutes to touch base and let them know where things are at.

That said, especially when you’re freelancing, the client doesn’t necessarily see where you’re at and how things are going. Letting them know is a big part of providing the amazing experience of working with you. 

This is also a great thing to talk about when you’re figuring out the initial scope and communication with the client– how often would they like you to check in? What are the details they want to hear? Is there a particular schedule they’d like you to follow in terms of task completion and communication?

Figure out that schedule, and stick to it! 

How to Discuss Rates with Clients

One of FreeUp’s goals is to create an environment for freelancers that takes the pain of negotiating with clients out of the equation. 

That said, there may be times when you do need to negotiate rates for additional tasks and hours outside of the initial project ticket. 

This is fine. But you need to keep in mind that clients pay a 15% service fee with a $2/hour minimum on all hours billed for freelancers through FreeUp (this is how we’re able to maintain the platform, provide staff, make enhancements, etc). 

Again, we take billing issues really seriously, so please make sure clients aren’t surprised by being billed for an hourly rate that’s 15% more than they anticipated. 

Charging for Consultations 

There is a difference between the initial interview with a potential client and a consultation. And, not knowing that difference may mean you’re missing out on money! 

During an interview, the client should be asking you about your prior experience, and how you operate as an independent consultant or business– not particulars about how to fix their own systems or processes. That’s a consultation, and we encourage freelancers to charge for their knowledge. 

Interviews should be about 15-20 minutes (of course there are exceptions). If a client is using the interview for your expertise rather than to learn about your expertise, it is appropriate to let them know that you’d be happy to schedule a paid consultation after you’ve been hired. 

While FreeUp is big on customer service, we are also here to support the freelance team who makes this all possible. This means supporting you so you are not being taken advantage of. 

Using Different Communication Platforms

Slack, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc… 

There are a ton of communication platforms out there and different clients are going to have their own preferences. 

As a freelancer, it can be tough to set boundaries and be accommodating to different needs. For instance, some clients may want your phone number, or to communicate with you via social media platforms (such as Facebook messenger). 

It’s up to you to determine what you feel comfortable with. 

We recommend setting up freelance-specific profiles if you choose to communicate with clients via social media. We also recommend solidifying all project agreements via email rather than in chat. 

A Note on Video Chats

Some clients are going to want to do a video chat to determine if you are the right fit for their business, and that’s completely within their rights. 

This should go without saying but have a clean and quiet space. Be present. Make sure all apps are downloaded and tested before the call and that your usernames are professional. 

If your internet connection is giving you trouble, let them know up-front. 

And, be confident! HELLO, you’re a FreeUp freelancer, which makes you pretty awesome. 😉 

Protect Client Confidentiality 

Communication is about building relationships and trust. And sometimes, you’ll be trusted with sensitive and protected information that you should not communicate.

Please treat all client information with the utmost care, and take all precautions necessary to make sure their information is protected. 

Sharing this information with another freelancer not approved by the client (if you are an agency or have disclosed other freelancers will work on the job) is grounds for immediate suspension or removal from the platform. 

Part of our terms of service is to keep all client information confidential as well as to return it to the client once the project is completed. 

Communicating with “Tough” Clients 

We put “tough” in quotation marks because we’re all human, and we all have bad days. But yes, it can be tough to communicate with clients who you feel aren’t being reasonable. 

Truth is, that’s always going to be part of owning a business (and as a freelancer, you’re running your own business– congrats!). 

Take a deep breath. Try and understand where the client is coming from. And always conduct yourself professionally. This means taking ownership of your part of the equation and setting expectations. If you need to reset these, do it in writing. 

That said, abusive language from clients is not tolerated. If a client is being unreasonably abusive (using insulting, inflammatory or offensive language) please get in touch with FreeUp immediately

We will reach out to the client to mediate and let them know that this behavior is not tolerated. 

On the flip side, being rude to clients is grounds for immediate suspension and/or removal from the platform. 

Can You “Fire” a Client? 

If you are having an issue with a client, immediately reach out to to let us know. 

You should never have a conversation with a client about not being able to work with them.

That said, if you ever feel like you cannot work with a client, please, please get in touch with us so we can help mediate and find a solution. This may mean finding another freelancer for the client. This is determined on a case-by-case basis, but FreeUp will handle the conversation and communication with the client regarding this.

If a client is being unnecessarily abusive or offensive, let us know immediately. This is not acceptable on the FreeUp platform. Furthermore, if something seems “off” to you — like a client is trying to take advantage of the system or is committing some sort of fraud, scam, or something illegal, please reach out to immediately so we can get ahead of the issue!  

Your Profile 

Yes, your profile is a way to communicate with clients. So, strut your stuff! 

Freelancers who do not have a completed profile will not be connected to projects. If that’s not enough to get you to complete yours, know that we send freelancers to clients based on their profiles

Does yours speak to your strengths? Do you have a work history that shows your expertise? Do you have a headshot? Is your “About” section a clear introduction of who you are, how you work, and what you bring to the table? 

Profiles are what get freelancers hired, so make sure yours is on point! 

FreeUp Culture Document 

Now that we’ve covered communication with clients, let’s talk about how we treat each other

FreeUp is a community. This means that we are respectful, honest, and that (when we get the chance), we enjoy each other’s company and have fun! 

The FreeUp Culture Document outlines everything we stand for as a company, including how we treat each other. 😀 

Slack Guidelines

Since Slack is our main freelance communication platform, be sure to review these guidelines before logging on and saying hi!  

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