Key tax dates and deadlines for 2018/19
It is an inevitable reality that, for anyone earning a livin...
By Jonathan London on 16th July 2015
Unless you’re the CEO, as an employee you’re bound to have your performance reviewed by your line manager from time to time. Whether monthly or annually, they provide a good opportunity to take stock of your role, targets and output, and if you’re lucky, they’re tied to a nice bonus and/or pay rise.
Although the feedback you receive as a freelancer probably won’t be as thorough, it’s not only useful for your professional development but a glowing testimonial can help snag you some new business too. We take a look at how to collect feedback, what to ask for and what to do with it when you get it.
For self-improvement feedback, it’s generally best not to put your clients on the spot – although they could probably string together a few thoughts about you, it won’t be overly insightful. Either send them an email with an open-ended request or schedule a call so they can pull some ideas together beforehand. It’s also worth including a friendly disclaimer about the reasons for your request, and reassurance that you welcome any negative comments or criticisms they may have. Depending on the client relationship you have, it might be best to give them the option of a phone call or email – even the most diplomatic person can squirm at the thought of critiquing work over the phone (or worse, over coffee). If you know that you’re not particularly great at dealing with criticism, asking for feedback by email might be the best option.
You don’t need to wait for a project to end before asking a client for a testimonial or if they can endorse your skills on LinkedIn. Drop them a brief email, outlining what you’d like them to do. Outline clearly what you need, and perhaps give examples of the kind of things they could say about you. If you want them to provide feedback via LinkedIn, include the link to your profile as part of your email – make it easy for them to help you out.
Obtaining client feedback can be a useful way of taking stock of how your work and your output. Maybe you want reassurance that you’re doing okay, or want some suggestions on how you could improve your performance. Provide some pointers so that they know roughly what you’re looking for; a vague request for feedback… might mean they don’t cover everything you wanted. Even if you think you’re doing a pretty good job at freelancing, still ask where they think there could be room for improvement. It might surprise you – just don’t take it completely to heart.
If you work in a results-driven industry and you don’t currently collect any statistical insight from your clients, ask them if they have any top-level metrics they can share with you. For example, if you create animated videos for businesses then knowing the conversion rate of your work will help you demonstrate and quantify your success to new clients.
For website testimonials, just ask them for a couple of sentences about you, your work ethic and your service(s). Always check that they’re happy to be quoted on any marketing collateral – anonymous testimonials aren’t as effective as named and branded ones.
The benefit of asking clients for feedback and stating you welcome criticism is that it will force you to review and improve your work processes. Asking for feedback like this can be nerve-wracking, but as you long as you approach it pragmatically it won’t be too soul destroying. There might be areas that you feel you’re underperforming in, but not sure why. Feedback can help troubleshoot any of these problems; for example, if you have rarely get replies to your emails, it might be because they’re sent at 10pm and often overlooked the next day.
Checking out a restaurant’s TripAdvisor reviews before heading for an evening out has become second nature, and can make or break the decision to go there. In the same way, as a freelancer having positive testimonials on your website, or recommendations on LinkedIn, can help reinforce the decision to hire you. Make it easy for people to decide they want to work with you by selling yourself as a professional alongside your experience and portfolio. Use recent testimonials where relevant – a standalone review from your University tutor fifteen years ago might make it look like you haven’t done much since – and edit any lengthy reviews down; nobody wants to read a thousand word report on your excellent interpersonal skills (no matter how good they are).
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