What freelance clients want

Freelance-Zone.com readers may already be familiar with the annual “Freelance Forecast” survey that I’ve done for the past two years. The survey polls client perspectives as well as freelancer perspectives…and today I’d like to dig into one of the client-side responses that can offer a bit of guidance on how you might want to pitch your services for freelance jobs—and retain clients for the long haul.

Top 5 Qualities You Look for in a Freelancer

  1. Reliability/dependability
  2. Talent/quality of work
  3. Ability to hit deadlines
  4. Understanding my needs
  5. Subject matter expertise/experience

Interestingly enough, these are precisely the same five qualities identified in Freelance Forecast 2009, though in a slightly different order. More than likely, none of these come as a surprise, especially if you’ve been in the game for a while.

But let’s take a moment to consider why these are important. All five answers speak to your ability to make your client’s life easier, and to make their business more profitable. They’ve chosen a freelancer as a business decision—rather than hiring someone or taking the DIY route.

My primary takeaway, though, is that answers 1, 3 and 4 are 100% under your control. (I’d argue that talent/quality of work and subject matter expertise require a combination of nature and nuture. You may simply not be a good fit for some freelance jobs and clients; or at least not yet.) Logically, it follows that you should work to ensure that those parts of your game are rock solid. Do that, and you’ll be way ahead of the pack of fly-by-nighters who exhibit the habits of a part-timer or hobbyist rather than a businessperson who’s serious about the client’s best interests.

Freelance-Zone contributor Jake Poinier is the founder/owner of Boomvang Creative Group and the newly launched advice blog for freelancers, Dr. Freelance.

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