Client Communication as a Freelancer: Tips & Examples


​Freelancing gives you the freedom to work with an array of different clients from all over the world – but with the rise of technology enabling freelancers to work remotely, managing communication with clients can often prove to be a challenge. How can freelancers interact with clients to ensure effective communication (and avoid misunderstandings)?

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What is client communication?

Client communication refers to the process of exchanging information, ideas, and opinions between a service provider (freelancer) and a company (client). 

It involves understanding the client’s needs, addressing their questions and maintaining an effective dialogue throughout the project and working relationship.

Client communication includes:

  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Phone calls
  • E-mails
  • Video conferences
  • Project planning
  • Bbriefings
  • Reports

Thanks to effective client communication, projects will run without much hassle, clients’ relationships will be healthy and project quality will be outstanding.

According to our freelancer study, 71% of freelancers agree that having good communication skills is the most important soft skill to have as a freelancer.

Freelancer survey 2022 results about the most relevant soft skills for freelancers where communication skills is the most voted
Client communication skills – The most relevant soft skill for freelancers (Freelancer study 2022)

But what does a freelancer need to be considered a good communicator?

Some characteristics of a skilled communicator in client conversations include:

  • Active listening: Paying full attention to the client and responding appropriately (show that you care!)
  • Empathy: Understanding and relating to the client’s perspective and emotions.
  • Friendly: Your tone of voice should always be friendly to create a welcoming and approachable atmosphere
  • Patience: Remaining calm and composed, even in challenging or difficult situations with clients will make all the difference
  • Polite: Show your manners and be considerate in all interactions
  • Negotiator and problem-solver: Conflicts might happen and freelancers need to have the ability to handle arguments in a constructive manner
  • Down-to-earth: Able to communicate in a way that is easy to understand, avoiding technical language or jargon
  • Emotional intelligence: Freelancers need to use logical reasoning but without forgetting about emotional intelligence.
  • Respectful: Respect your clients’ time, for example. Group questions to avoid bombarding the client.
  • Adaptable: Each client might have their own preferences or favourite tools. Ask and adapt to their preferences. Doesn’t he like emails? Look for another communication channel. Is he annoyed by too many check-ins? Space them out.

Developing excellent client communication skills is best achieved through experience. You will get better as you fail and make mistakes. Also, remember that we’re all humans and have our own preferences. So your communication won’t always be perfect (and that’s fine!).

Communication skills needed as a freelancer
Client communication skills needed as a freelancer

Why should freelancers learn how to communicate well with clients?

Ultimately, good client communication skills will be the key to continuing to get work as a freelancer. 

Often the success of a project is closely linked to the freelancer’s communication skills. If the freelancer is able to deliver great work and is easy to communicate with, the client will be happy with the freelancer. This increases the chances of getting a good recommendation from them or getting to work together in the future.

So, how can good communication help freelancers?

1. Build better relationships

Effective communication helps establish strong relationships with clients. As we mentioned before, this can lead to repeat business and referrals. Clients are more likely to trust and enjoy working with freelancers who can clearly understand their needs and provide updates and feedback in a professional manner.

2. Better understanding of client requirements

By actively listening and asking the right questions, freelancers can avoid misunderstandings and deliver the desired results. This saves time and resources for both the client and the freelancer.

When you bill your clients per project, this time saved will translate into less time invested in the project itself. This means more time that you can invest in your business in other ways (admin tasks, client acquisition, etc.). In other words, you are more productive and making more money

3. Help with managing expectations

With effective communication skills, freelancers will be able to set realistic expectations with clients. This reduces the likelihood of disappointment or disagreement as the project progresses.

If project deliverables, costs and timelines are well-defined upfront that would make the project run smoothly. If everything is set, you probably won’t hear from the client unless you miss a deadline or something suddenly changes. 

Clients always appreciate an update on their projects. Providing your clients with check-in emails or calls or even submitting a progress report will allow them to trust your work and have the peace of mind they need. 

4. Show professionalism

Being able to communicate effectively will show your problem-solving skills, too. Freelancers will be able to address concerns and problems promptly and so, find viable solutions that avoid potential issues or harm client satisfaction

If you work on how to write client emails, confirm new details about your collaboration or answer a phone call you will be going the extra mile.

Freelancers with good communication skills are also prepared to receive feedback (and handle it) professionally. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your client and accept criticism from the client, too. Once you get their input, you will be able to work on a solution to meet their expectations.

benefits of having good communications skills as a freelancer
Benefits of having excellent client communication skills

5. Advantage in negotiations

It’s not only about communication in general, but also about negotiation skills. Being a freelancer means running a business and you need confidence and communication skills to negotiate the terms of the agreement. You need to trust your value to effectively communicate your freelance rates, rush fees, schedule, terms and expectations in general. 

6. Help you stand out

Yes, there are many freelancers out there. You can find thousands of Freelance Python developers or SAP consultants but there aren’t that many who are early, frequent and good communicators.

Enhancing your communication skills as a freelancer is key to standing out from others in your field. Even if you lack experience, you can surpass the competition by establishing a reputation for excellent client collaboration. This ability will continue to benefit you throughout your entire freelance career.

7. Increased productivity

Is there anything more important to clients than productivity? If everything is clear up front and the timeframe and tasks are clearly defined, the same issues don’t need to be addressed over and over again.

With effective client communication, you reduce the amount of information that needs to be repeated, which means less clutter to deal with and therefore more effective execution.

Portfolio Dragos Muntean

Tips for Better Communication with Your Clients

From spending more time with your children by working from home to developing your versatility by working with a number of different clients, there is no shortage of reasons why freelancing is such an appealing prospect for many professionals.

And with the exponential advancement of technology creating even more opportunities for freelancers, the flexibility of working remotely has given freelancers the ability to expand their client list on both a national and international level – making great communication all the more important.

Whether you’re freelancing for a company based overseas or working for a number of different clients during the week, working remotely can often create challenges when it comes to communication.

As opposed to an in-house employee, freelancers can often be less familiar with a client’s company values and expectations – and the physical distance between you and the office can make getting in contact increasingly difficult.

Here are a few tips on how to ensure that you’re communicating effectively with your clients – so you can complete your projects to the highest standard, in the most productive way.

1. Regularly report back

Whether it’s due to the time difference or your flexible working hours, freelancers can often end up with entirely different work availability to their clients – which means that getting in contact can sometimes prove to be tricky.

Whether you’re online at the same time as their office or not, setting clear deadlines for each task and regularly reporting on a job’s status to the client means that you can avoid running into any time-management difficulties, should you be unable to keep to the initial schedule.

Client communication example for reporting / checking-in:

Hello [client],

I’m sending an overview of my progress this week, as well as some planned actions for the upcoming week.

Logo design: After several design iterations and feedback, the new logo is ready. I’ve attached the final version for your final review.
Dashboard redesign: I have made significant progress in the website redesign project. This week, I focused on wireframing and creating a user friendly layout for the dashboard. I will share the design mockups with you next Wednesday for your feedback and approval.

Next steps:
Branding collateral: In addition to the logo design, we discussed creating business cards, letterheads and social media graphics. I will start with this next week as soon as you approve the logo.
Web development: I’ll proceed with the development phase as soon as you approve the web design.

Thanks for your trust and looking forward to another productive week ahead!

2. Ensure clarity with virtual meetings

From briefing staff members to encouraging the sharing of ideas, team meetings ensure that each employee and freelancer is well informed about the company’s current aims – as well as allowing a business to benefit from considering a variety of new creative ideas.

When we discuss working with freelancers with companies, we always stress the importance of onboarding freelancers correctly, which includes the onboarding meeting. 

However, not all clients are in the same spot when it comes to hiring freelancers, so the freelancer can also make sure that they have all the details needed.

With video and voice conference call channels aplenty, it couldn’t be easier for freelancers to join in and contribute to these regular meetings – so it may be worth suggesting that your client arrange a virtual meeting to discuss the project.

A video or voice conference means that you will be able to speak to all of the team members that you’ve been in touch with at one time too – so you can clear up any ambiguities or discrepancies that have arisen from communicating with more than one contact.

A video or voice conference means that you will be able to speak to all of the team members that you’ve been in touch with at one time too – so you can clear up any ambiguities or discrepancies that have arisen from communicating with more than one contact.

Also it’s a good idea to go through all the documentation the client has sent you, make notes and analyse the content and then call that meeting where you describe what you understood in your own words. This way you will be able to spot potential misunderstandings.

Many remote teams are also making the most of asynchronous work when setting up a virtual meeting is not an option due to differences in time zones, for example.

3. Always follow-up with written communication

The flexibility that comes with freelancing means that it’s up to you and the client to choose which communication channel will be the most appropriate for the task, but it’s important to remember that written communication will always be key when it comes to discussing the more serious side of the business.

Oral communication is likely to be quicker, but with the potential for things to be forgotten after the call, confirming your conversations in writing afterwards is highly recommended. From instant messages to phone calls with the client, providing evidence of your discussion and establishing the key aspects of the outcome by sending a concise email means that you can ensure you and your client are on the same page about the project in hand.

Client communication example following up on a call:

Thanks for bringing up the issue with report X on our previous call. I’ve checked it and made amends for the first point in report X. Please review it to make sure everything is all right now. 

4. Give crystal clear advice

With many freelancers commissioned tasks due to the company lacking a specific skill set, it’s important to bear in mind that your client may not fully understand the reasons or requirements for your actions in the project.

Transparency with the client will ensure a good working relationship and could mean more business together in the future, but that’s not to say that you should overcomplicate things when communicating.

Ensuring clarity is a must for every conversation when you’re a freelancer, but adapting your advice so that it’s understandable for the client means that they’re more likely to consistently implement it into their business.

You can suggest other options to your client, but do it by first listening to the client, their problem and their proposed solution. You are welcome to suggest a new solution as the expert but make sure it’s within budget and schedule, too.

For example:

I wanted to provide you with an update on the ongoing bug fix. The cause of the bug is more complex than initially anticipated, requiring thorough investigation and testing. I totally understand the impact this bug has on your system, and I sincerely apologize that this is taking longer than anticipated.

I’d like to request your patience and understanding as I work towards a solution. Rushing through the process could lead to temporary fixes or potential regression, which would impact the usability and stability of the system in the long run. 

I want to ensure that the bug is resolved with a robust solution that effectively eliminates any further occurrences. Also, this will help me better prepare for similar bugs.

Thanks for your patience and understanding!

5. Ask the right questions during a project

One of the biggest mistakes that a freelancer could make is arguably one of the simplest – and that’s not being confident in knowing what the task that’s been briefed actually is. As opposed to the full-time team, who will boast a wealth of experience in the client’s brand, freelancers won’t have the luxury of knowing all the ins-and-outs of the business – and that means that in order to produce the high quality of work that’ll be expected, finding out as much information as possible is crucial.

Asking questions will show both initiative and motivation to succeed at a task, so if you’re confused about a brief or looking for clarification about what the client actually wants, make sure you ask for the right answers – rather than just assuming them.

Effective communication example to avoid assuming you know what the client wants:

I was checking the briefing and I wanted to reach out and seek some clarification to make sure I fully understand your expectations. You shared a couple of examples of designs you liked but these are not 100% the same. Are there any specific guidelines regarding the design of the project? Knowing this information will allow me to create an end project that meets your exact expectations.

6. Connect emotionally with the client

Freelancing requires empathy and connection on an emotional level. It doesn’t mean that your client is always right, but you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes. 

This will help you to interpret communication with your clients in a more human way and to use the right tone when talking to them.

How we say things is often more important than what is actually said. If your tone is too harsh, the client may think you don’t respect them; if your tone is too relaxed, the client may think you don’t care about them.

In most cases, it wouldn’t be your intention to sound harsh or relaxed but that’s what the client gets from your tone. So the aim should be to use a professional tone, full of sincerity, confidence and customer focus.

For example:

You had assigned me an urgent task due today at 11:00 and it is with great regret that I have to inform you that the assignment is a little bit behind schedule. I’m asking in an untimely manner as the deadline is in 1 hour, but it would be great if you could extend the deadline by a few hours. I think I should be able to finish it in the next 4 hours. Thank you!

Extra tip: Communicating with clients in different time zones

One hurdle to overcome when working internationally is finding times to meet or work at the same time as your clients. If you are not able to deal with the different time zones of your clients, it could cost you the job! So how to approach international clients?

  1. Have a time zone table or app: You want to know where your client works and what their business hours are. Make sure you have this information at your fingertips. You can go one step further and check bank holidays etc.
  2. Be specific when you talk about time: Do not use “I’ll send you my work by the end of the day“. “It’ll be done by 2 pm GMT+2” is not much better. Make it easy for the customer. “I’ll send it to you by 10 am your time“.
  3. Decide if there are specific times when you’ll both be online: With asynchronous work, this is not always necessary, but make sure you discuss this in advance. Do you need to work 1 hour/day within the same working hours for possible meetings? Then agree on when that will be. 
  4. Start and end the day strong: Check your emails one last time in the evening to see if anything has come up. Your client may have forgotten that it’s time for you to go to bed, but you could give them a heads-up.

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Communication tools for freelancers

Luckily, there are great communication software and technology out there to help you communicate with your clients as a freelancer.

As we said at the beginning, client communication includes everything from phone calls, project planning to emails and it contributes to a successful project. 

These tools can help you with your client communication:

  • Video tools: In this digitalised world, “face-to-face” is still a thing. Video calls also allow you to share your screen when needed. Some of the most used video tools are Meets, Zoom, Microsoft teams, or Loom
  • Project management tools: These tools can help you organise your work and share notes and feedback. For example: Trello, Asana, Notion, etc.
  • Enterprise communication tools: If the client uses a tool internally, it’s probably Slack or Teams. They may be able to give you access to instant communication on these channels.
  • Accounting & invoicing tools: This is also an important part of your freelance business. You need to get paid and there are great tools that can help you with the administrative part of your freelance business. For example, Bonsai can help you get paid faster by making it very easy for clients to pay you with just one click. You can also manage contracts, proposals, or your time. 

Whether you’re looking for more short-term contracts with the client in the future or hoping that word-of-mouth marketing will mean that more clients hear about your high standard of work, effective communication is key when it comes to freelancing.

From establishing a communication channel that works for you both to being transparent in your conversations, making full use of virtual communication options means that you can overcome any potential freelancing difficulties and nurture stronger relationships with your clients.

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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

By Natalia Campana

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