Without a doubt, it sucks to work hard on a project only to find that what you’ve delivered doesn’t meet your client’s expectations. But it happens to all of us now and then – especially to those of us who deliver a service or product that doesn’t have a black and white definition of what’s “good” and what’s “not good.”
As a solopreneur in a creative field (like freelance writing, photography, web design, fine arts etc.), your work naturally gets evaluated and judged through subjective eyes. What you produce has more to it than its face value; it carries emotions and feelings with it. And so, you’re at greater risk of not hitting your mark because that mark quite often isn’t defined very well for a number of reasons.
You didn’t listen or take the time to understand.
This is probably the easiest pitfall to fix. Be fully, mentally present in meetings and on phone calls with your clients – and take thorough notes. Missing the mark can happen all too easily if you didn’t pay attention. If you think you missed something during your conversations, backtrack and ask your clients to repeat what they shared. And always recap the details and confirm your understanding before you leave the building or drop off the phone call.
You rushed through it.
Nothing will deliver lack luster results more effectively than rushing through a project. Be sure that you’ve allotted enough time to do it justice and focus your full attention on the task at hand. And never, ever multi-task. You can still have other things on your plate, but schedule them for another time. If you find that you’ll have trouble doing quality work because of trying to meet an unrealistic deadline, approach your client about extending it. Chances are your customer would rather have your best output a few days later than something mediocre or worse with a fast turn-around.
They didn’t provide you with enough information.
Sometimes clients will expect you to just run with a project without giving you the direction you need. If you’re not clear on their expectations or the details that need to be included, don’t proceed until you gain some clarity from them. Explain that to do the best job possible and to keep on budget, you need the info up front. If they can’t – or aren’t willing to – cooperate, it’s in your best interest and theirs to put the project on hold until they can put some meat on the bone.
They don’t know what they want.
Occasionally, you might work with clients who bring you into their projects too early. Because they haven’t gotten a grasp on what they want to convey to their audience, they’ll be unable to provide you with the essential information that you need to do your work. It’s pretty much impossible to meet a client’s specifications if there are no specifications! Though it can be tough to gauge a client’s readiness, use your intuition and look for clues that indicate your customer might need to more fully think things through before contracting your help. Some key signs to watch for
- They constantly change their minds after giving you direction.
- They don’t respond promptly – or at all – with answers that you need to move the project forward.
Though tweaking is a natural part of the process when you’re a solopreneur in a creative field, you can avoid the frustration of substantial re-dos by paying attention to your own readiness and that of your clients. Your preparation and focus – and theirs – will make the difference between hitting the mark and missing it.
Ever miss the mark in any of your projects? What was at the root of the problem and how did you get beyond it?
Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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