Whether you want to call it an interview or a consultation, every first meeting with a prospective client requires you to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions can show your professionalism as a freelancer, how much you understand their business needs, and whether this client is right for you. Clear communication from the get-go can ensure a smooth client relationship moving forward.

But what exactly should you ask? In this article, I provide questions to ask at your next prospective client meeting and explain why they’re important.

Have you worked with a freelancer before?

Asking clients whether they’ve previously worked with a freelancer or independent contractor can qualify whether a client is suitable for your roster. Clients who’ve worked or are currently working with other freelancers more likely have a process in place for payments, deliverables, and other operations. In contrast, clients who are freelancer newbies (if we can call them that) may need your help designing such processes.

Additionally, clients who’ve worked with other freelancers, especially ones in the same field, understand your service’s market rates and how they’re issued. This reduces the need to explain why your services are priced a certain way.

What are the goals of your project? 

Asking about a project’s goals is about more than communicating that you care about a client’s business and its needs. It helps you understand whether your services actually match the needs of the prospect.

For example, a business may think they need a freelance writer to create content. But in actuality, they may need a social media coordinator who can prepare and post content and create a social media plan for their business. If you don’t understand your client’s goals, you could end up trying to provide services that are out of your expertise.

Additionally, understanding a client’s goals helps you to better approach a project. For example, in content writing, some clients want SEO traffic, others want to be thought leaders, and some want to develop their marketing funnel. Understanding where a client sits helps you determine how you can help them.

Who’s your target audience?

Client projects usually aim to create an end product that targets certain “personas”. A new poster by a graphic designer may target street traffic, or an email marketing campaign may focus on brand loyal consumers.

Understanding the client’s personas can help tailor your work and generate ideas on improving the client’s approach. Providing these ideas can show a client that you bring value beyond your stated services, making you more valuable than the competition.

Budget and method of payment

Although it’s taboo to ask about salaries during job interviews, the client wants to know how much your services cost and you want to understand if your prices are within their budget. That’s why it’s essential to ask about a prospect’s budget. If it comes significantly under what you usually charge, it’s likely not going to work out.

Method of payment is also important. If a client pays with a cheque or cash, it may take longer to receive your payment, or you’ll need to go through the hassle of picking the cheque or cash up. If clients prefer to pay via Paypal or another software, you may need to create a new account.

Other logistical questions

There are lastly numerous logistical questions to understand, such as:

  • Who’s my main point of contact? Is there a secondary contact?
  • What’s the best method of communication?
  • How should I provide deliverables?
  • What are your deliverable timeline expectations?
  • What’s your revision process?

There are plenty of other questions to add to this list. Some questions would further be specific to your own practice. Understanding these logistical questions can help you visualize your relationship with the client and ultimately make the process easier.

Answering a prospective client’s questions may be important, but the questions you ask can be even more critical. Asking the right questions helps you provide a better service and qualify whether a client is right for you. This ultimately ensures that your roster of clients are people you enjoy working with.