TFL No4: How to Draft a Timeline for Clients

Oh, these special breed of clients who need things right NOW. Many a times I have come across new clients who want to engage my services – and I have turned away a lot of them.

Why would I turn money away? Because as exciting as the job brief can be sometimes, what makes a prospective client into a nightmare are these words, “We would need it very urgently.”

>> Read more: 4 Ways to Promote Your Freelance Services <<

“Urgently” usually means that you do not have time for a proper creative process – therefore the work would look sloppy and not only would it reflect poorly on your portfolio, but the client may not like and might refuse to pay the agreed amount for it. For me, clients like these are risky and could turn out to be a big waste of my time.

However, I have implemented a system to ensure understanding on both sides, and a way to work around the time constraint – by creating a timeline.

State clearly on what you need to deliver at each stage, and when the client should give their final approvals. Break down the timing into precise dates leading up to the final deadline. Remember to leave in some time for any printing if needed.

It should be a timeline that both you and your client are comfortable with and can adhere to – so go through it together, face-to-face if possible. Upon agreement, get your client to sign the timeline sheet and date it, as a sign of approval to avoid any discrepancies.

You need to make it clear that any delays on their end would result in the deadline being pushed further back, and that the responsibility/blame should not fall onto you. Be very clear on this as some clients have a very bad habit of forgetting anything that was agreed upon verbally. Make sure you have everything in black & white. If needed, get your client to initial the terms of agreement.

As a freelancer, it is never easy to deal with new clients that you are not familiar with. Some may want to take advantage of you, and some may want to use you with as little cost as possible. However, you should always remember that YOU have the power to choose which client you want or do not want to work with.

In my next post, I will be sharing a simple timeline sheet for you to use whenever you need to draft a timeline for your client. I will share an example as well, and the worksheet will be a printable FREE for download in my Creative Tools & Resources section. Stay tuned!

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