My Exact Client On-Boarding Process

client on-boarding process for online business owners and bloggers

I’ve received quite a number of questions regarding how I work with clients. As my web design business has grown, I’ve learned that having specific, organized systems in place is the best way to to ensure my clients are happy, involved and informed about their project. Most of my clients come from referrals, Facebook groups, and Instagram, but I’m starting to explore other avenues of networking to connect with potential clients, which I’ll be sure to post about in the near future. In the meantime, this week I’m laying out the exact blueprint I use when I get ready to work on new projects, and I’ve also created a quick cheatsheet for you too!

Scheduling a Free 1:1 Consultation Call

After our initial connection, I have all prospective clients schedule a call with me via Calendly. I simply share my link with them and they choose a time that works best for their schedule based on my availability I set when I created my Calendly account. I typically suggest they choose my 30 minute service consultation where I ask a series of questions to learn more about them, their brand, and what they’re looking for in a web or graphic design. I also thoroughly go over the services I offer, the project timeline/process, and leave time at the end to address any questions they have before we move forward.

If a client isn’t quite sure what type of service they need and require a bit more guidance, I suggest they choose my 1-hour strategy call so we can dive deeper into their brand. Some calls take less than the designated time while others take up the entire slot. It truly varies from person to person; either way, offering these free consultations have made a massive difference in my business, and have freed up a lot of time and extra work on my end. They also allow me to connect with my prospective clients on a much deeper, more personal level, rather than simply chatting over email or social media.

While my consultations are done over the phone, video chatting via Zoom is another option. You can always leave that as an option for your clients, or you can choose whichever method you are most comfortable with.

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Creating and Sending Contracts

When we decide to move forward with working together, the next step in my on-boarding process is sending over the client contract. When I first started freelancing I didn’t have any contracts in place. Huge mistake on my part! Contracts ensure that you are protecting your work and yourself, while clearly stating the terms and agreements of your services. I now use Bonsai to create all of my contracts. I love Bonasai because it’s super easy to use; you can choose a template and customize it according to your services and all signatures are done electronically. Bonsai does a great job of guiding you through the entire process of setting up your contract before you send it over to a client. Just make sure to read over it carefully before hitting send!

Sending Security Deposit Invoices

When I send over the contract, I also send over the client’s first invoice. I require a non-refundable security deposit of 50% of the total investment before I begin any work on a project. On very rare occasions I offer customized payment plans, but for the most part I structure my invoicing at 50% up front, and 50% after the project is completed, before final files are handed over to the client.

Inviting to Client Project in Asana (with Tutorial)

Using a project management tool not only keeps me organized and on top of all my client projects, but it allows my clients to track the progression of their project and communicate with me quickly. I used to do all communication via email, but this method became confusing, disorganized, and left room for errors or missed files. After a client signs their contract and pays their invoice, I then send them an invite to their project in Asana and provide them with a quick (under 5 minutes) tutorial on how to use this tool. Once they’re signed up with their free Asana account, I assign them any tasks they need to complete throughout their project so they know what I need from them. I also add in deadlines for both of us so we can stay on schedule.

There are a number of project management tools out there, but Asana has been my favorite so far. Not only do I like how easy it is for me to navigate but my clients find it easy and enjoy using it too!

Creating and Sending Out Client Questionnaire

Even though I have a pretty in depth conversation with my clients during our consultation calls, I also have them fill out a questionnaire once they’re set up in Asana. This is one of the first tasks I assign to them, and is required for them to complete before I start designing their project. I set up all my questionnaires in Google Forms, add the link to the task in Asana, and print them out once they’re completed so I can quickly reference them throughout the design process. I also suggest that clients create a Pinterest board for inspiration, but leave this as optional as some clients aren’t comfortable with Pinterest. If a client doesn’t want to use Pinterest, I ask them to upload inspiration images or files to their designated task in Asana so I can get a better understanding of their design preferences.

Beginning the Design Process

Once all preliminary tasks are completed, I look over everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure I have everything I need to start the project. I remain in close communication with my clients throughout the design process, and update them as the project progresses. My turnaround time varies by project, but I make sure to have specific deadlines for each milestone of the process.

Having these systems in place prior to the start of each project allows me to stay organized and on-time with multiple, on-going client projects. If you are a current or aspiring freelancer or service-based business owner, I highly recommend finding a system that works for you and your clients. You may find that my process is a great fit for your brand, or you may find that a variation of this process provides you with what you need; to help you get started, don’t forget to download the free cheatsheet to set up your on-boarding process for your new clients! If you have your own system that works well for you, I’d love to hear about it!