During my time as a full-time freelancer, I’ve come to realize that there are certain questions I need to ask prospective clients before agreeing to work with them.

Pulling from my questions to ask prospective clients has become a part of my process in determining whether or not I’ve got a bad apple on my hands, and it can help save time, money and headaches down the road.

Here are just a few of the questions I now ask prospective clients before agreeing to work with them. This list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to customize and add as you wish.

Do you have a contract or should I draft one up?

I pretty much don’t do anything without a contract, which is why I ask prospective clients whether or not their organization has a contract for hiring contractors or whether I should send one over.

This helps protect me (as well as protect them), sets expectations upfront and shows a serious level of professionalism on your part. I’ve even had large companies say, “Wow you’ve really got it together,” when bringing up the contract question.

Talk money early.

Okay, so this isn’t a question per say, but it is a very important discussion to have early on. Talking about money early is actually something I learned from my friend and web designer while staying with her in Mexico.

Freelancers need to know early on whether or not someone can afford them and is worth their time. That’s why talking about the financials early can be extremely telling in deciding whether or not to take on a new prospective client.

What are your expectations?

Setting expectations early on can also be extremely telling in whether or not to hire a prospective client. Sometimes freelancers learn much too late that they are in over their heads with a client. Or, they realize that they didn’t charge enough for what the client wanted. They could also realize too late that the prospective client has no idea what they are doing.

That’s why it’s important to discuss expectations before even agreeing to work with someone. Otherwise, you could run into some major frustrations down the road. Here are some of the things to consider when discussing expectations:

  • Output
  • Timelines
  • Deliverables from each person
  • Payment and payment cycles

The third one can be especially important if you need information from your clients in order to complete their project. By setting expecations early on you’ll know whether or not they have their stuff together.

What are your priorities?

This is related to client expectations in so far as it can help you determine what they are. Sometimes prospective clients really have no clue what they are getting themselves into. This can cause some problems down the road as they begin to change their minds and their objectives.

This is something I’ve definitely learned the hard way with some clients as their objectives change over time. We may have agreed upon one thing in the beginning, but because I didn’t do my due diligence in asking about priorities I quickly found myself up the creek without a paddle.

By determining your client’s priorities ahead of time it helps them determine their own expectations and helps you determine whether or not you can deliver.

Final Thoughts

By having a set of questions to ask prospective clients, you can determine whether or not you even want to take them on. Often times freelancers forget that they are in control of the clients they take on, and by using this set of questions you’ll make sure to weed out the bad apples as well as set some realistic expectations for you and for your client.

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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