4 basic questions a freelancer always needs to answer

March 22, 2013

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freelancer questionsOver the course of a prospective client meeting, there might be a dozen random questions a freelancer might need to be prepared to answer — but there are basic ones that you should be able to handle seamlessly even on your worst day.

This post was sparked by a few serendipitous items over the past week: Lori Widmer’s thoughts in “6 Ways to Get More from Your Marketing,” Jared Tendler’s upcoming Mental Game of Poker 2 (which I helped edit and found to be highly applicable for a freelancer), and the client meeting I mentioned in my Tuesday post, “The thicker the folder, the thicker the applicant.”

When I went to that meeting, I’d just gotten over a cold, and had taken a couple of Benadryl to keep from sniffling, and chugged 2 extra cups of coffee to keep from falling asleep. I’d researched the company, but in Tendler’s poker terms, I was likely to be playing my “C-game”: i.e., the worst level of performance. There wasn’t anything to do but put on my best sales face and plow through.

Even through my antihistamine haze, I knew that I needed to be ready for 4 basic questions, and the rest would need to be handled on the fly:

  • What areas/industries/niches do you specialize in?/Tell me about your business/background.
  • What’s your experience in my area/industry/niche (i.e., relevant portfolio samples)?
  • What’s your usual process/how do you work?
  • How much do you charge/what’s your hourly rate/how do you charge?

Sure enough, variations of all of those came up. The meeting went OK, though I rambled more than usual and I felt like my voice was echoing in my head. It was a middling C.

But here’s where Lori’s admonitions about the value of preparation for the freelancer and Jared’s poker theory come back into play: Your A-, B-, and C-games are not static, and there’s work involved in moving them up. On A-game days, when the answers come easily and there’s great rapport with the client, it seems like you can do no wrong. But working on your C-game — making sure you’re rock solid on the basics, and identifying and eliminating your most common mistakes — is arguably the more important part of success.

In a future post, I’ll dig into my thoughts on the best ways to answer those questions.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori March 29, 2013 at 7:19 am

Don’t you just love the predictability of clients? I’ve told freelancers to know their script before they meet someone. How can you walk in and wing it? It may work, but it may flop, too. Prepare. Five minutes is all it takes to write out your answers and commit them to memory.

Thanks for the linkage, chum. :)

Jake Poinier March 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

Agreed, Lori. You don’t have to memorize some sort of set spiel, but a foundation of the basics is paramount — if nothing else, it frees your brain to be nimble for the weird, out-of-the-blue questions. And you’re welcome on the linkage.

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