Top 5 Questions Freelancers Need to Ask their Clients

Save yourself time, money, and possibly your sanity by ensuring you have the information you need before starting your next freelancing project.

This freelancing checklist will help you make better decisions when creating freelancing work for clients. Its guiding voice is a simple but powerful mantra, “Respect Yourself. Respect Your Client.”

Top 5 Questions Freelancers Need to Ask their Clients

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Sample Questionnaire for the Client You can Use

The more you can get inside your client’s head, the better. Good communication is an essential freelancer skill so before diving into creating what YOU think would be best, make sure you first know the ins and outs of what your client wants and needs. Remember: “A job well begun is a job half done.”

Doing this communication step well can save you (and your client) hours, days, weeks, or more of frustration and tears.

Have your client answer the following to the best of their ability:

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Describe what you are looking for, any specifications required, and what the final purpose of the work is.

If for a video or animation, ask for length, frame-rate, dimensions, etc. If for a design, ask specifications like width, height, resolution, etc. For both ask if the work is for web or print, broadcast TV, etc.

Here you should also ask for their time-frame so you and the client both have realistic expectations regarding when you can deliver the final work.

Hint: Sometimes the client doesn’t realize how much time goes into a design and thinks you can easily “whip up” 50  hand-painted illustrations in a day.

You’ll have to gently nip that notion in the bud if you are both going to work well together. Be honest about your schedule and when you think you can deliver the end result.

How do you want people to feel when they view the work? Use adjectives to describe their reaction.

E.g. uplifted, motivated, shocked, moved, angry, etc. 

Figuring out what “vibe” the client is after will make designing for them a thousand times easier. The vibe will inform your color choices, composition, fonts, image choices, etc so make sure to find out before you start designing or creating.

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What is the ultimate goal of this work and what action, if any, do you want your audience to take?

E.g. “The goal is to create awareness about a cause or product and then have the viewer visit a website.” or “The goal is to get people interested and make a purchase, sign a petition, donate to a cause, etc.” 

* Here you may want to warn the client that projects only trying to accomplish ONE main goal are the most effective.

Who is your main target audience?

“Everyone” is NOT a good answer and will lead to you making ineffective work that appeals to no one. Think more like: “Busy working moms with little free time,” “Young men aged 18-25 looking for adventurous entertainment options,” “Girls aged 6-8 who are just learning how to read,” etc.

You can also consider a secondary audience like “parents of girls aged 6-8 who are just learning to read.”

Can you please give me links to examples of work similar to what you want that you like (or what you know you DON’T like)?

This one helps you get an idea for their general tastes, e.g. casual vs. sophisticated, jam-packed vs. minimalist, preferred colors, fonts, etc.

* DO beware of clients asking you to outright copy someone else’s website, logo, or design! This is illegal and defeats the purpose of being hired to make something original for the client. My own dear brother once asked me to copy another radio station’s logo. I had to educate him a bit on why that was a BAD idea!

If you have any other questions for the client, please ask those as well! This list not only helps you get started making work that the client will love (or at least like) but it also forces the client to have a really strong idea about what THEY want. Dealing with clients who don’t know what they want can be a miserable experience! This questionnaire attempts to save you from such suffering. 

You’re welcome! 🙂

Want to learn more about freelancing?
Have a look at a recent live interview I did for Essitino Artists.

Take a look at Kristen’s online courses here.

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Kristen Palana
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Kristen Palana
Award-Winning Artist, Associate Professor of Digital Media, Animation Specialist
Subjects of Expertise: Animation, Digital Media, Graphic Design
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Kristen Palana
Award-Winning Artist
Associate Professor of Digital Media
Animation Specialist

Subjects of Expertise

Digital Media
Graphic Design

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