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Post Project Steps 6: Review

We have been talking about what happens post project and how to make the most out of your last job in order to get the next one. Next I want to talk about reviewing a past project so it can help you improve future projects.

You Won’t Review

The truth of the matter is 80% of you reading probably won’t review your past projects for the simple fact that you’ll be too busy either pitching for new work, or on your next job. Reviewing takes time and often you may feel like it’s a fruitless task, but only by stepping back and examining a project and the various stages throughout can you find ways to improve.

What Was The Brief?

Probably a stupid question, but it’s interesting to look through the initial brief and compare the finished product. Its key not to address WHAT was delivered but IF it met the brief. Even if a client is happy, sometimes you can identify better ways in which you could have addressed the brief and met expectations.

Above and Beyond

Reflecting on the brief, this is also the right time to think about not only if you met expectations, but if and where you went beyond that. I’m not necessarily talking about project delivery or late nights here, but upselling opportunities for related services and/or products. If they wanted a website could you have upsold PPC or SEO services? If they wanted a brochure design, could you have upsold the social media assets too?

Team Play

Wherever you have a chain of people, it’s important to go get individual reviews of how they thought the project went. This is not done to put them on the spot or point fingers where there’s been issues, but moreover as a learning exercise and also to highlight people’s roles and inputs. You don’t want your team to feel as if they are writing a school report so it’s key to keep things as short and manageable as possible.

Honest Review

One of the core skills of working for yourself is in dealing with feedback. This can sometimes be quite harsh! It’s important to try where possible to remove yourself from the situation when reviewing a project.

Breakdown

I would breakdown your project into phases to better evaluate it. I would include prospecting, conversion (of the prospect into an actual job) brief, planning, during project, and post project. We’ll look at the sort of questions it’s useful to ask in more detail in the next lesson.



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Post Projects Steps 5: Communication

With some clients, you want to run to the hills as fast as you can and never see them again, but with most its worth keeping in touch. Here’s a few ways you should go about it.

CRM

I’ve talked a few times about the importance of having a Customer Relationship Manager. This can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet. All you need is a record of who your client is, contact details, and as much info as possible about what you have done for them and where there may be more opportunities for work. You should always have a note of when you last contacted them and when you plan to again. Certainly twice a year should be a minimum until they say otherwise.

Email list

Having a regular emailer is always a useful way in which to keep in touch with people. It may be worth having a separate email specifically for existing clients. This email does not need to be as sales lead as your main one and can give more insights into behind the scenes.

Call list

Alongside this it’s always worth calling up a client. As above I would think a quick catch up is usually worth doing once every six months. I’ve done this for a number of clients over the years and its surprising how often a client has vanished purely because your old contact has moved on. Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping in touch with your clients as you are far more likely to get work from someone who has used you before.

Gifts

One question I’m often posed is whether or not you should send your clients gifts/giveaways as a way of keeping your name in front of them. Generally I would suggest that gifts won’t have a big impact on decisions, and in fact many companies have a strict policy against them. I think your work should be enough on its own, but where you have a high value contract it might not hurt.

Connecting

Always worth following your client’s on their various social media. Linkedin is obviously a great place for people to see your updates. It’s important though that you have a professional barrier in place. I wouldn’t add clients on facebook or anywhere you’re likely to share personal events, even if you might consider them as friends. A little bit of distance is advised.


Post Project Steps 4: Portfolios

In this series of lessons we are covering all those things you need to do once a project is over. We have talked about getting paid, getting testimonials and getting referrals. Now let’s talk about portfolio management.

We’re Working With Them!

I think all clients appreciate a little enthusiasm. The second you get a new client you might be tempted to tell the world. I would advise against this, certainly it’s better to wait until after you’ve finished a project and everything has gone well then to shout about it and be embarrassed later. Also depending on your line of work it can give a negative impression. For example a video company I once knew would post out “filming today!” and then it might be months before you’d see the final video. This delay could well be on the clients side but by being a little over-eager they were inadvertently creating a bad impression.

Time Consuming

You’ll be surprised what a time consuming activity updating your portfolio is. I would recommend that generally when people are looking at your site they want to see a stream of regular activity. It may be better to store up a few months’ worth of portfolio pieces to push out rather than doing them the second they come in.

Nasty Bits

One piece of advice you might not expect is to include some crap work in your portfolio. Yes I know it sounds counter-intuitive but from personal experience I always included all my work. The truth of the working for yourself is that not everything you work on will be amazing. I think clients are sometimes wary of a portfolio that looks too polished. Showing some of your smaller clients can often balance you out. Also showing earlier work can be a good way to demonstrate professional development.

Private Links

There are some projects that you can’t share with the world. Often this is because you are a sub-contractor to someone else. In most cases I would suggest that keeping mum should come at a premium to your client. One thing is that although you may not be able to share publicly about the client and their information, usually you can share this information privately with a prospect without fear of repercussions. In your terms and conditions I would recommend putting in a clause that allows you to use any work as part of your portfolio, and generally speaking I would think outside of sensitive information you should be fine after a few years.

Best Light

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the best way to showcase your work. Websites for instance. You may have made a fantastic website, but 12 months down the line and your client has added lots of cheesy stock pictures, there’s spelling mistakes everywhere. Suddenly this doesn’t represent you well as a link. In some cases your clients may actually go out of business! Ensuring that you always have a copy of work you’ve produced and have an easy way of displaying it is key. You need to be able to post/email it meaning large PDF files can be a no go. With a website portfolio, ideally you want to showcase your work without leading people away from your site. Creating lots of sub-pages is time consuming, but may need to be done!



Post Project Steps 3: Referrals

In this series of lessons I’m talking about what you can do now your project is over to ensure it leads to more work. One such tactic is referrals, which is another way of asking your client to recommend you.

Are They Happy?

The first step is to ensure your client is happy in the first place. Bear in mind it can be a little off putting if you’re asking your client for a testimonial, referral, blood sample. Don’t overload the client straight after you’ve finished. A casual catch up call to ensure they are still happy with what you’ve provided them with will help you scope out if there’s any more work with them. It’s here that you can and also to see if they know anyone else who might need your services.

Should You Pay?

One question when it comes to referrals is whether or not you should offer up a finder’s fee. Generally I would suggest this is a nice gesture, and is always a topper for your own services (you have your own cost and their bill is on top) sometimes this can add a layer of complexity that you could live without, but considering all the hard work that goes into getting work, a small payment is often easier.

If you’re going to offer a referral fee then make it plain and simple what the terms are on that. What you definitely don’t want is to pay for soft leads that are not getting you anywhere.

Do Act On It

Nothing is worse in my book then when you pass someone on a lead and they don’t chase it up..or don’t get back to you to thank you for it! It’s very important to acknowledge and thank people who have taken the time to think about your business, even if their lead is not appropriate the least you can do is contact the person and have a discussion.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I think sometimes suppliers/contractors are a little guilty of being selfish. They try and squeeze as much as they can out of their client, which you can’t blame them for, BUT they don’t give back. An easy way to keep in front of your client is just to send them appropriate links, things you think they’d find interesting and if you have a lead pass it on. It’s important that you see your clients as business partners and not customers, after all if they fail they won’t be able to hire you!

The first and easiest step of getting a referral is simply to ask the question “would you know any other businesses that could benefit from our services.”


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Right now, a 70 nation conference will attempt to give Jerusalem to Hamas ruled Palestine. God will not allow this to happen, but how much blood will be shed in the effort?

An eclectic combination of writing and photography intent on showing and telling stories that often go untold, either out of disintetest, indifference and ignorance.
Thank you and hello to the masses feverishly pounding out their best blog post ever. OK. it may not be your finest work, but I can safely state it's probably not your worst. With these words and those
fermenting in your mind, go forth and seize the day and anything else of value.

Matt

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December has already started and it’s time for you to leverage the Christmas season and boost your freelance business before the end of the year!

Here are some ideas to start with: http://www.freelancermap.com/freelancer-tips/11679-5-freelancer-marketing-tips-for-the-holiday-season
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