6 Figure Creative Icon

The 6 BARE MINIMUM Rules For Solid Client Communication | The Infinite Clients Series

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Pretty much all of us got into this “trading creativity for $$$” thing because we absolutely love what we do. It's easy to forget that there's more to the game than just passion + being good at your craft.
 
The whole “client communication” thing usually isn't the most thrilling part of your day. It's like, we get so caught up in the excitement of creating and learning new things in our field that we kind of let the whole talking-to-clients thing slide.
 
It's not because we want to be bad at it, and it's not because we're terrible people… But because we're just not wired that way, especially if your background is anything like mine.
 
Before freelancing, here was my entire job history:
  • A janitor at a water park
  • Flipping burgers at Burger King
  • Selling video games at GameStop
Corporate world? Never heard of her.
 
Team meetings and office politics? Nope.
 
So when it comes to wearing the “professional communicator hat”, it's something I had to learn the hard way.
 
I had no clear boundaries, no set times for chats, no structure. It was chaos.
 
Messages got lost, things got forgotten, and before I knew it, I was that flaky freelancer nobody wanted to deal with.
 
If that's anything like you, it becomes a stressful, awful mess FAST….not just for you but for your clients too.
 
Think about it from their side. They've just dropped thousands of dollars on hiring you, pumped to see what you'll create together.
 
But if they're left in the dark, not knowing when they'll hear from you or what's happening, that excitement turns to anxiety, then frustration, and maybe even anger. No one wants to work in that kind of vibe.
 
Bottom line… If you want to keep doing what you love (and get paid for it without losing your mind), you've got to get a handle on the whole communication thing.
 
To help with this, I've got 6 rules for client communication for you to follow. Think of this as the bare minimum any good freelancer should be doing.
 
It's about setting clear rules for when and how you'll talk to your clients, making sure everyone's on the same page, and keeping things running smoothly.
 
It's about making your clients feel taken care of and avoiding that whole excitement > anxiety > anger cycle that can lead to horrible projects (and no referrals).
 
Check out the episode, and IMPLEMENT ASAP.
 
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • How we can learn the skills we need to have healthy, effective communication with clients
  • Six rules to keep your clients happy (and yourself sane)
  • Internal business communication tools vs. external communication tools
  • Why clients want plain, simple English
  • Keeping your clients up to date
  • Using feedback loops to make sure your clients are happy, without overworking
  • Turning a client's outlook around by going the extra mile
  • Communicating expectations to leads and clients
  • Conflict resolution techniques to use with your clients

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[00:00:00] Brian: Podcast. I'm your host Brian hood If this is your first time ever listen to the show Welcome. Hi. Hey, hello. So glad to have you. This podcast is for you. If you are a creative freelancer, you offer creative services and you want to earn more money from those creative skills without selling your soul.

[00:00:14] Brian: If that sounds like you, you're in the right place. For my returning listeners, we are off to the races, continuing our infinite client series, which if you are brand new and you don't know what that means, it is our attempt at creating such an incredible experience for our clients that every single client that we work with.

[00:00:30] Brian: Refers at least one more client to us. If you can do that, you will literally have infinite clients because two clients would turn into four clients, four clients to turn into 16 or eight clients. I can't do math. Eight clients would turn into 16, 16 to 32, 32, 64. We're talking like in bits of Ram now.

[00:00:43] Brian: infinite clients. It is a lofty goal. It is probably an impossible goal, but it's something that we are discussing theoretically, what we need to do in order to make that happen. So today's episode is going to continue that series. Before I get into that, I've got to say six for your creative.

[00:00:56] Brian: We've just added on a new team member. We got a new full time person, our second full time coach [00:01:00] for our clients by design. maybe he'll come on the podcast at some point, but this is an exciting week for us. His name's Josh. he's got a background in design starting off as a freelancer through college and then he joined a startup in the UK and did all the branding for that. It's company called Gusto. It's like a food prep company, did all their branding. He went on to transition to marketing and was head of marketing for an eight figure company.

[00:01:19] Brian: and did that for four years led a team of six people there and then went back to the freelancing game, built a five figure recurring revenue freelance design business. And then now it's coaching for us full time, which is freaking awesome. So, Welcome Josh to the team. We had over 500 applications for this position. mid December through mid January was kind of our hiring period for this role. Over 500 applications, and it came down to To really top two great people really good candidates But anytime I see somebody like josh who has a background in freelancing And a really strong stint as head of marketing at a eight figure company That's the type of person I want to work for me.

[00:01:53] Brian: so if you've been holding off joining clients by design or coaching program for client acquisition for any reason whatsoever, now's the time to join it

[00:01:59] Brian: Because [00:02:00] Josh will be one of your coaches.

[00:02:01] Brian: So let's shift things back. Shift gears back to the Infinite Client Series. The topic of today's episode is going to be All centered around client communication. Sounds boring. A lot of this stuff sounds boring, but it's incredibly important because most freelancers, if we're being honest with ourselves, we suck at communicating with our clients.

[00:02:17] Brian: look at the sign behind me that says it takes more than passion, we fall into our, freelance careers because we're passionate about it. And that means that we have. an insane, unquenchable thirst for learning about that creative pursuit.

[00:02:27] Brian: But that also means that a lot of the other skills fall to the wayside, like communication, understanding how to communicate. So we're not bad at communicating on purpose, it's just that we are not equipped handle this at a professional level. Especially someone like me. the only jobs I ever had was I was a janitor at Point Mallard Water Park in Decatur, Alabama in my teens.

[00:02:45] Brian: I worked at Burger King for four months before I was fired. And I worked at GameStop for two years in my, uh, late teens, maybe into my, birthday, something like that. And those are the only three jobs that I think I've ever worked in my life. So I have no corporate experience, no college experience, I have [00:03:00] no experience working on a massive team.

[00:03:02] Brian: I am the prototypical creative freelancer who came up without any of these skills, but we just don't know what we don't know.

[00:03:08] Brian: so when we first start taking on clients, and even for my people that are in the six figure, multiple six figure range, you still fall into these traps where you have no boundaries with your clients when it comes to communication. No rules around how you're going to communicate no expectation set for the client about how communication should occur or should not occur No systems put into place to make everything run smoothly

[00:03:25] Brian: and because of this we end up missing messages We end up dropping balls. We end up looking flaky to our clients We end up letting our clients walk all over us our clients get at us now. It sucks to be a freelancer We don't like this part. We don't like having to deal with all this stuff and so we go either self sabotage because Every time I get a client, I feel like this now I'm going to self sabotage either inadvertently or on purpose or I might just stop doing this professionally altogether because this stuff sucks, right?

[00:03:51] Brian: And none of us want that, but at the core of all this, if we're going to be paid for our creative skills, we have to look at it from the client's perspective.

[00:03:57] Brian: What does the client experience at this point? [00:04:00] They've likely just paid you thousands of dollars if you're charging what the prices that I tell freelancers they need to charge. They're excited to get started. To work together, but they're going to get antsy really quickly and when they get antsy that can quickly turn to anxiety and anxiety can quickly turn to anger and angry clients are miserable to work with and this all stems around how you communicate how often you communicate what expectations you set.

[00:04:21] Brian: et cetera, et cetera. And so I have in this episode, six rules around communication for you to follow as a freelancer that will help you keep everything under control.

[00:04:29] Brian: No drop balls or missed messages or missed emails or missed text, no miscommunications,

[00:04:34] Brian: boundaries crossed, no off clients, projects, happier clients, more referrals, infinite clients, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So you get the gist here. This is the important stuff. So hopefully by now you understand what's at stake.

[00:04:45] Brian: So now you can just sit back, relax, enjoy these six rules. I'm just going to spit at you in no real particular order except for this first one. This one is the most important one to me. Rule number one is find one communication medium and stick to it. This is a non [00:05:00] negotiable. We need to talk about boundaries.

[00:05:01] Brian: This is a boundary you set early. in very specific terms and you make sure you stick to it so that if a client. Reaches outside of the communication medium that you have agreed on or that you prefer you politely but firmly redirect them to the correct communication medium So what what mediums could that be?

[00:05:17] Brian: This obviously depends on the needs of you your client The needs of the project or the service that you're offering so like this can look wildly different in every creative niche that there is And I've organized these specific communication mediums from my least favorite down to my favorite. So starting things off, we've got voice and video communication.

[00:05:33] Brian: So you've got things like Marco Polo, which is more of like a social app. kind of like a video walkie talkie. I use it with my family when I'm traveling or friends when I'm traveling. Or things like Voxer. It's a little more professional setting. Those are two apps, especially Voxer, that are used in professional settings for communication.

[00:05:47] Brian: I don't think that many freelancers are going to use this in order to communicate with their clients, but those are communication mediums, which is voice and video, keep in mind, some of the things I'm about today will have voice capabilities video capabilities, but I'm talking about like, Okay. These platforms are voice slash [00:06:00] video first. brings me to my second least favorite communication medium and that is messaging. So you've got things like text, DM, WhatsApp. That's kind of what I put under this nest of like messaging apps. So this is generally either group settings like group chats or group WhatsApps.

[00:06:13] Brian: Or group DMs, or it can be one on one, and as far as I know in all of these, it is a stream of conversation. So there's no threads, there's no organization, there's no like, let's set that as a reminder to come back to me when I need it. It's just a stream of information, and it's generally a poor way to communicate with your clients in most cases.

[00:06:31] Brian: Sometimes this can work, but in most cases, I would prefer never to use a messaging platform for client communication. that brings us to our first what I consider like a viable option and that is like a channel based communication platforms.

[00:06:42] Brian: What does that mean? Well, If you've ever used slack or discord, that's the two that I have on this list. Then you've experienced a channel based communication platform slack is just like here's a list of all the channels and we can communicate based on different topics, right? So my team uses it. And we have categorical channels we have a channel for this podcast. We have a [00:07:00] channel for just general conversation. We have a channel for what we call water cooler chat, just random conversations. We have,

[00:07:05] Brian: we have a channel for like important notifications that are automated, just random things like that. It's not really set up in my opinion, for most freelancers, unless you were just working really long term with clients and you need a quick way to communicate. Because the problem with Slack, in my opinion, is it, does have threads and it does have a way to.

[00:07:21] Brian: Remind you of messages that you need to be reminded of later. Like, Hey, this is an important message, but it's not important yet. I'm going to set this to remind me in a week or a month or whatever. You can have these features, which are awesome, but it's generally a stream of message communication platform.

[00:07:33] Brian: It's just more organized by channels. And because of that, I think in most freelance niches, it doesn't really work for us, especially when we have maybe multiple deliverables or multiple people collaborating on a project or multiple things that we have to send off for approvals or feedback. anything that's just a random stream of information or stream of conversation, in my opinion, doesn't really lend itself to that.

[00:07:52] Brian: And that's where we get to the thing that I prefer the most, in most cases, for a lot of freelancers out there, that is thread based communications.[00:08:00] And the most common and the most used is email. You can create an email thread about a specific thing and people can reply and you just have a thread of all the information that you've discussed in that time period over that thread.

[00:08:10] Brian: The problem with email is that most people don't use this correctly. You probably don't use it correctly. Your clients don't probably use it correctly. What can happen is you forget to make new threads for different things. And even within that, everyone's inboxes are just full of trash. So you miss things occasionally.

[00:08:22] Brian: So that's not great. Sometimes if you have multiple people involved with a thread, some people don't do reply all or some people do to reply all or somehow. People use some other app like a CRM and then it splits it off into a new thread. And so it could be a nightmare very quickly, but it's still better than probably most of the other apps that I've mentioned so far.

[00:08:39] Brian: And in some niches, Slack will work better than email because at least the only communication you have in that app is about the project or the client. Whereas email, all of our inboxes are full of just so much crap.

[00:08:48] Brian: But that brings me to me, my favorite communication app or tool that is thread based. Like email and it's also a dedicated app like slack and that's something called twist. You can go to twist. com I'm, not affiliate. I [00:09:00] don't get any compensation for this. I'm not sponsored. We use it We pay hundreds of dollars per month for this because we have a lot of clients in this Essentially, what this is, is a combination of something like Slack and email, where inside of Slack, you have channels, you do as well in Twist, you have channels in Twist.

[00:09:14] Brian: But inside of each channel is specific threads. So you could have a channel for each client, or you could have topic based channels, depends on how you work. And then within each channel, for most people, it's going to be a channel for each client. client's channel, you can have as many topics or threads as you want.

[00:09:32] Brian: And each thread can have as many messages as you need in there. And it is awesome. You can set reminders to remind you of something. You can mark something as done and it goes away of your inbox. It is to me, one of my favorite communication and collaboration apps for what we do.

[00:09:46] Brian: The downside of a tool like this is if you're not working with your clients for long term engagements, like if you're a retainer, this is great. If you're working with a client for Months. This is great if you're working for clients that are just like one off quick projects. This is not great The last thing you want to do is get your client sucked [00:10:00] into a dedicated different app they have to log into and create a login and download a mobile app if you're using some of the mobile app like twist That's a little bit more of a pain for short term projects, so you might want to either go with my next set of tools or go back to email and find a good way to communicate with an email for shorter projects.

[00:10:14] Brian: And that's fine. and that brings me one of the better solutions here. For some niches and that is specialty tools. There's two that I mentioned here. There's other ones in other niches, but one is frame. io. you're in the video world, I'm sure you absolutely know what that is.

[00:10:26] Brian: Frame. io is a way to get feedback and collaborate and communicate with clients about specific project related things. That's typically still paired with email in a lot of cases for certain things. It's generally for feedback on actual deliverables. Same with FilePass. com is one of my companies.

[00:10:42] Brian: basically identical to Frame. io, but it's for the audio community or audio world where you're sending files and stuff. The difference between what we do is we actually have a paywall where your clients can't download the files until they pay. So it's just one of those like nice little safety features we built in there.

[00:10:55] Brian: But these are, specialty tools. There's different ones in different niches, but they usually don't. Encompass [00:11:00] all things that you need with clients, and that's where we get to a potential solution for a lot of people out there. And this is still based on email, but it's organized with a shell of something else.

[00:11:08] Brian: And that's either project managers or CRMs. I'll quickly discuss this. I'll talk more about project management tools than I will CRMs. And the reason I'm talking about this first rule for so damn long is because it's so important. If you set this up right, everything else is so much smoother, runs so much better.

[00:11:23] Brian: And this can alleviate many of the pains I talked about at the beginning of this episode. Project management tools. For things like ClickUp, and I think Basecamp is the same way, but ClickUp for sure, because that's what we use. You can actually tie in your email address into ClickUp. and you can have templates and things.

[00:11:37] Brian: I'll just use an example here. Because I'm working with a copywriter right now to write some emails for us. It could be that that copywriter that we're working with has ClickUp set up so that when he brings on a new client and it's a productized service like what he offers here and it's a pretty standard set of deliverables and things that he's doing and the timeline is pretty set from client to client.

[00:11:54] Brian: It's not a massive variation like a very boutique service. In his case, he could use something like ClickUp. [00:12:00] And you can have a template for all of these sorts of projects that just loads up when a client joins or when a, client pays them, which I just did right, like last week. And in Clickup you can have preset dates and due dates and deliverables and things that are all within there.

[00:12:13] Brian: That's project management. We'll talk about this at another time ' cause this is an important thing to have set up and know how to use if you're a freelancer, especially for really elaborate long-term. Technical projects, but ClickUp has all these things built in. Great. Why am I talking about this in the communications area?

[00:12:26] Brian: Why am I talking about this in a communications platform? It's because ClickUp allows you to tie your email into it so that whenever you have a client inside of ClickUp, you can actually email them from within a task or a thread. so if you're working on something, for example, in this case, an email nurture series for us.

[00:12:42] Brian: And. He needs to send something for feedback or get something from me. He can actually send the email from within ClickUp. It goes to my inbox. I can respond to it. It shows back up in that task with that client. this is just another way that you can use a project management tool to centralize communications for emails and that could actually work.

[00:12:58] Brian: Even if you're doing smaller, quicker [00:13:00] projects, it feels like an email from you. So the client doesn't experience anything. They don't have to download anything or review anything or sign up anything or use any weird tools. But you have it all organized inside of something like ClickUp so that you don't miss anything.

[00:13:11] Brian: You don't lose anything. And it's right there in the task that you need it attached to. So this is, a pitch for ClickUp. I've been using it since January 2022, and I still love it. We still use it pretty much every day. But then there's also things like CRMs that do similar things. Dubsado.

[00:13:25] Brian: Closed. com, Pipedrive. com, Honeybook. They all have a similar thing where you can communicate with clients within it. It's an email sent from the platform. So the client feels like it's just a normal email and it comes back into the CRM and allows you to keep everything centralized in the one area. I know Dubsado and Honeybook also have kind of like a client portal where they can log in and see files and get files and see all the past emails you've exchanged.

[00:13:45] Brian: So that's one little added benefit of one of those kind of pseudo specialty tools. But that is it for The tools are the mediums or platforms you could use, the goal here is this not get overwhelmed and try to do everything just determined based on the deliverables. You have to do the things you need to typically [00:14:00] say and how long the engagement is depends on you specifically choose one communication medium.

[00:14:05] Brian: And that's the only place that your clients communicate with you. That's it. No other ways.

[00:14:08] Brian: That is rule number one. Find one communication medium and stick to it. Rule number two.

[00:14:13] Brian: When talking to your clients, speak to them on their level. Freelancers, we're passionate about what we do. We love it. We are nerds. We just dive into the nitty gritty details. We want to know everything about our little slice of the universe. But here's the thing. Your clients don't want you to get nerdy.

[00:14:30] Brian: They don't care about all the specifics and the tools and the technicals and the little, all the jargon that you like to use understand and know, they don't care about that. So when you're explaining something to a client or presenting something to a client or asking a question to your client, do not use your nerdy ass jargon.

[00:14:44] Brian: I'm sorry, it sounds mean, but it's true. Like your clients, they want the end result. So when you're talking about things, talk about goals, outcomes, ask them questions that are specific to those two things, but try your damnedest to not get Into the technical, nerdy, nitty gritty junk[00:15:00] that doesn't matter for the client.

[00:15:01] Brian: And if you do have to get into that world for them, don't use jargon, use plain, simple English. Keep it simple.

[00:15:07] Brian: And if you want to understand a little bit of this, this is great for my non audio people because you won't understand anything I'm about to say. But if I'm a mix engineer And I'm sending files to my clients and I'm trying to ask vocalist. What do you think about the vocals on this I used an 1176 compressor.

[00:15:20] Brian: We used like a four to one ratio with like 10 millisecond attack A 50 millisecond release. I think it sounds pretty good. Do you think we should go tighter with the attack? What do you think Now, that's an extreme example I don't think many mixing engineers are saying that specific stuff to their clients unless they're also Audio nerds in our world, there is a lot of other areas that you do go that deep on accident without understanding that they just don't know that world.

[00:15:43] Brian: You've got to speak in plain English, plain terms. sometimes you got to make up phrases or terminologies, which is why in the music world where I come from, music production world, there's so many what I call cotton candy words. They don't really mean anything. It's not warm enough. It's not bright enough.

[00:15:56] Brian: It's not fat enough. These things. I don't [00:16:00] love them, but when you're communicating with clients, that's about the only kind of vocabulary they might have to communicate with things with you. So you've got to start to learn what's the common language you're going to use to communicate things instead of that massive dump of technical knowledge that I just spat out about vocal compression.

[00:16:14] Brian: So that's rule number two, less short of the rule number one, but rule number two is speak on their level. No jargon.

[00:16:18] Brian: Now onto rule number three, give regular updates. This obviously applies to my people who are working with clients or where you're not actually in a room with your clients in music production. Typically, like in the studio environment, you are in the room with the client, so you don't really have to give regular updates until maybe after they leave and you're mixing the songs or if you're a mastering engineer or whatever.

[00:16:37] Brian: But for my graphic designers out there, for my copywriters out there, for my video editors, for my post production people, any capacity where you're not in the room with the clients, getting regular updates, over communicating, where you feel like, do they think they need another update?

[00:16:50] Brian: I guess I'll send it anyways. If that's ever a question, you always send an update, and here's why.

[00:16:54] Brian: When I said earlier that clients can go from excited to antsy very quick and antsy to [00:17:00] anxiety really quick and anxiety to angry really quick. That can happen in a span of days for a lot of people, especially if anything else you've done up to that point has irked them.

[00:17:09] Brian: And today it's, Tuesday, just for example, it's Tuesday. I paid a copywriter thousands of dollars last week, and the last communication I had with that copywriter was Friday of last week. I haven't heard from him this week. I know that they are working on a certain element right now, and I don't expect a communication, but I would have liked to get something Monday or Tuesday of this week, right? that phase where I'm starting to get antsy. I want to see or hear something or get an update of some sort.

[00:17:33] Brian: And here's the thing. That copywriter has shown no red flags, no bad signs, no ick feeling so far. That is just the natural response after spending a bunch of money. I just want to get an update. What's going on?

[00:17:43] Brian: Now, regular updates is going to differ for everybody and every niche and every service and every offering. But you got to figure out what that is for you. In most cases, if you're working with a client on a specific timeframe project, like this is like a three week project we're doing,

[00:17:55] Brian: you could probably communicate. Every other day at the very beginning and start tailing that off to about once per [00:18:00] week unless there's deliverables to send but generally if you're working on nothing but that project and you do an Entire day of work on that project and you have nothing to show for it as far as showing your client anything The best thing you can do is just send an email.

[00:18:11] Brian: Hey, I worked on X Y Z today I'm looking forward to getting into A, B, and C tomorrow. I'll let you know when I have something to show you. Just something like that takes 10 seconds to write up. You spent your entire day working on it or a good chunk of your day working on it. Why not spend an extra 10 seconds just sending the client something so they know that you're working on it.

[00:18:25] Brian: They know you're thinking of them. They know you didn't just disappear into the sunset and then anxiety starts shifting into anger very quickly. So that's a short sweet rule. Number three, just give regular updates to your clients. And that brings us to rule number four, be responsive. within reason, obviously, but generally speaking, faster responses to your clients equals happier clients, and we want happy clients.

[00:18:44] Brian: So the clients will refer more people to us. We want infinite clients, right? so the faster we can sponsor our clients. The happier they'll be. This is bottom line.

[00:18:50] Brian: there's certain things like for FAQs or questions that you get all the time or you know, in certain phases, certain things are going to come up. It's great to have templates for those sorts of things. You can also use chat GPT or something to [00:19:00] formulate a quicker response. As long as you know how to use it, GPT can go.

[00:19:03] Brian: Horrible very quickly if you're bad at it as somebody who just sorted through over 500 applications Probably about 60 to 80 percent of which had some egregious use of ai in the application I can tell you that people are bad at using it

[00:19:17] Brian: But if you just want a general rule of thumb in many cases if you just set aside time before after lunch to respond to client emails and then At the end of the day, towards the end of the day, respond to client emails just twice a day. That's generally a fast enough cadence, especially in a like email kind of format for clients to feel like that you're responding regularly and quickly.

[00:19:36] Brian: The last thing you ever want to do is go multiple days without a response, unless you've communicated ahead of time that you're going to be gone or unavailable, or you don't respond nights or weekends or whatever that is.

[00:19:44] Brian: but just make sure that rule number four is followed, be responsive.

[00:19:47] Brian: And one side note with this, I don't know if the freelance community understands how low the bar is for their clients. In many cases, at least in my background in music production, in many cases, music producers would just ghost their clients. they would stop responding so[00:20:00] the norm is just like a flaky, sketchy music producer who never responds to things.

[00:20:04] Brian: They're slow. They never give updates. They don't do any of these things when that's the bar and you actually just do these, what I consider bare minimum, these six rules, he's just, these basic things. It elevates the client experience. To a level they probably haven't experienced now in some niches.

[00:20:17] Brian: It's way more competitive way more structured way more professional in those worlds, this is probably bare minimum stuff But in a lot of worlds, especially where I come from This is like top notch You are top 1 percent of freelancers out there if you can just do these basic things and that's one of them is just be responsive rule number five

[00:20:34] Brian: And this is one of my favorite and one of my secret ones that I've used for years. Create tight feedback loops wherever possible. Here's what I mean. Freelancers, they have this, tendency to work in a void. so in my example music production or music mixing in specifically in this case, clients would send me files to mix the songs and what many audio mixers would do is they would sit in a dark cave and mix A lot of songs or overmix the songs for a long time to getting them perfect so the client's so impressed[00:21:00] and only then do they send it off to the client for feedback so they could have wasted days or sometimes weeks depending on how many songs are doing working in the void.

[00:21:07] Brian: That's a huge mistake in most cases that overworking something or trying to get it perfect is a loser's game. The faster you can get feedback from your clients, the faster you're going to know if you're in there. Realm the ballpark of what they want to see

[00:21:19] Brian: so what I would do with clients As soon as I got the files send them to my mix assistant to set up prep everything do all the non creative tasks Get the session set up exactly how I like it. I open my DAW my digital audio workstation for you non audio nerds Open up my DAW And I just start mixing and within a few hours tops, I have a mix ready to send to a client with a template email that says, Hey, so and so I just got a first kind of test mix ready for you.

[00:21:43] Brian: this is not the final product, but all I want to know is, do you like the overall tones? Do you like the way the guitar sound? Do you like the overall tone of the base? Do you like the way the vocals are sitting? Do you like the drum sounds? this is an important step to make sure that I don't.

[00:21:56] Brian: go off and do a bunch of work in the complete wrong direction. I think I even had [00:22:00] a caveat. It's like, if this is way off, just let me know and we can start from all over again.

[00:22:04] Brian: but what this allowed was a very quick feedback loop. Within a few hours of me actually touching the songs, they would have songs that they could review, listen to, And then send me feedback so I know if I'm even in the same universe sometimes I wasn't

[00:22:15] Brian: but the way I learned this was By doing the exact opposite where I mix an entire album for a band. They hated all of it and They even were just like, we're just not gonna release this they didn't ask for a refund. They were just like dejected and sad and not very happy with my mixes and I had to then redo a bunch of work actually fly the guitarist out of the studio to retract some guitar parts that were messed up On their producer's end or their engineer's end and then remix the entire album from scratch.

[00:22:44] Brian: It took a lot of time a lot of work to turn their attitudes around to then release the songs,

[00:22:49] Brian: but I turned it around, and the good news is, you can listen to this album if you want, it's a band called Being is an Ocean. Their album is called Dear God, or G D, from 2012. This is, how long ago I [00:23:00] learned this lesson, over a decade ago. But one of the songs from that album has over 10 million streams on Spotify, so that's Obviously a good thing and every song has at least a million streams on there So that was me turning lemons into lemonade They almost didn't even release that album And that would have been a tragedy because that would have never came out at least not in format

[00:23:16] Brian: So that's rule number five create tight feedback loops whenever possible to get feedback from clients So you don't end up doing all this work for nothing. One more thing to avoid here forgot to talk about this is A lot of times in certain niches, by not doing a tight feedback loop with minimal work, you're also tend to overwhelm your clients.

[00:23:32] Brian: So for example I hired somebody for a project that didn't have clear guidelines. It was kind of like one of those weird projects that most freelancers shouldn't take on, but it was like something that I was interested in. And it wasn't really well defined. And so that person did a lot of work and when they sent it back to me for feedback, there was just so much for me to review.

[00:23:50] Brian: I felt overwhelmed and I still haven't even reviewed that project. So it was probably doomed to fail from the beginning but also just like a quicker, tighter feedback loop would have probably prevented them from doing a lot of work and me [00:24:00] feeling overwhelmed and I would have actually gotten through the review process.

[00:24:02] Brian: But that's kind of another reason why to do this quick, tight feedback loop here. Now we're on to rule number six, the final rule. Then I got a bonus. Not rule, but a whole other bonus topic or episode for you after this. We'll see if we fit it in. We'll see how that goes. But anyways, rule number six is set clear expectations on communication.

[00:24:18] Brian: So We have all these rules that we're following, rule number one through five, but are we communicating those rules to your clients? There's a big difference. And if you've listened so far to the series, we're on the third episode of this Infinite Client series. You know how important setting expectations is There's no such thing as over communicating expectations with the clients. So whenever you come up with these rules and you set these things up, make sure you communicate and then over communicate and then re communicate these rules to your clients. So where will you communicate? So what's the medium that you'll be communicating?

[00:24:46] Brian: When will you update the clients? How soon will you respond? Is it on nights and weekends? Will it be within 24 hours? Will it be within 12 hours, 6 hours, 3 hours? When can they expect to see something or review something?

[00:24:56] Brian: And then also like, what are your boundaries? And the boundaries conversation, we need to have a whole episode on [00:25:00] boundaries here. Actually we do,

[00:25:01] Brian: we're 300 episodes into this podcast. It's about, so I forget some of the episodes we have, but back in, the day before my birthday, 2022. We have an episode on episode 2 26, which you can get to by going to six figure creative.com/ 2 2 6. The episode's called Six Client Boundaries to Keep You Happy, healthy, stress Free, and Profitable.

[00:25:17] Brian: So we actually do have an episode on this entire Boundaries thing, but this is. An important thing to communicate those boundaries to your clients or else they likely don't exist. The last thing you want to do is have this like strict boundary in place to keep you happy, healthy, profitable, and sane, or whatever that episode is called.

[00:25:31] Brian: The last thing you want to have is that boundary in place. And then only once the client breaches that you then communicate that boundary to them. Because then they'll feel like they shortchange you. For example, this is really important for my music producer friends out there or when you're in an environment with a client for a long time, I would have bands come to my studio for up to five weeks at a time, and they would live at the studio with me.

[00:25:49] Brian: So what happens if we're at the studio, they're there for five weeks, we record Monday through Friday and then Saturday rolls around and their expectation is we're going to work Saturday and Sunday. We're [00:26:00] here for five weeks. And then all of a sudden I'm like, I don't work weekends, sorry, you're just here hanging out, doing nothing for two days.

[00:26:05] Brian: That's a bad time to bring up that boundary. Now if that was communicated ahead of time, and they understood it, and they agreed with it, and they knew that was happening, that's not going to be a surprise. But that's why boundaries need to be communicated ahead of times,

[00:26:16] Brian: and that comes down to setting clear expectations and communicating them to the clients.

[00:26:20] Brian: So that is rule number six. Set clear expectations on communication and then over communicate those expectations on communications to your clients. That's a mouthful. It's because it is. Now we got the last little bonus section here. We probably should have a whole episode on this bonus section, but I'm going to try to knock it out relatively quickly.

[00:26:35] Brian: it's a bonus section on conflict resolution. I consider this part of kind of communicating with clients and that's kind of the frame I'm taking this. This is not going to be some expert advice from a master conflict resolutionist.

[00:26:45] Brian: Is that a thing? I'm not that. I am getting better at it, any service based role, whether that's a server at a restaurant or a freelance service, or you offer a software as a service as I do, there will be conflict that comes up with your clients and or customers.

[00:26:59] Brian: and these are [00:27:00] communication rules to follow when conflict comes up so that you can deal with it the best you can.

[00:27:05] Brian: So I've got four little bonus rules on conflict resolution here that I think are going to be important for you to follow. And if you struggle with. Conflict with clients. This is absolutely for you. So the first rule is process the emotion before the logistic or the logic This is one we have with our own clients and clients by design our coaching community that occasionally emotions can flare in Situations where somebody is stretched or pushed outside of their comfort zones and those emotions can come up and if you try to deal with the logical solution to those problems before you've dealt with the emotion behind that You it's a loser's game.

[00:27:37] Brian: You were never going to get through. So it's the same in any service based business. If you have a client who is off or emotional about something, deal with that emotion first. That's the very first thing you do. And only then once that emotion has been dealt with the temper cooled down.

[00:27:51] Brian: Do you then start to address the logic? So that's rule number one. Bonus conflict resolution training. Process the emotion before the logic. Rule number two. Bonus rule number two [00:28:00] is never communicate through text when emotions are high. This is actually something that I think is one of the main reasons my wife and I we made it to marriage and we are now about to start celebrating our fifth year of marriage.

[00:28:09] Brian: In a month. We made it to this point and we continue to stay in this point in a happy, healthy marriage because we follow this rule. We never communicate through text message when emotions are high. And it's the same with your clients. You never send an email. You never respond to an email. You never send a text, respond to a text.

[00:28:25] Brian: You never send any sort of font to your clients when emotions are high. And it's because of this. Anything you write can be read in any tonality that's in their head. And when somebody's emotional, they're almost always gonna put the worst possible spin on it. I've seen this in every horrible breakup. still don't understand how people do this. You can see I'm fired up about this. I'm very passionate about this. This is something that ruins friendships. It's something that ruins romantic relationships is something that can ruin spouse partnerships. It's something that can ruin business partnerships.

[00:28:53] Brian: It's something that can ruin your relationship with your clients. So when emotions are high. Talk to them with your voice, preferably in person,[00:29:00] second best on the phone, third best is through some sort of voice message. Either way, they can hear the tonality of your voice, they can preferably see your own mannerisms and body language, and they can't put their own inflections on things.

[00:29:13] Brian: That's rule number two of this bonus section, never communicate through text when emotions are high. Rule number three own it and make it right. If there's a conflict that came up, put your ego away. if you cause the problem, then you've just got to own it and make it right. Going back to that being as an ocean album that I, mixed the entire thing and they hated it and they didn't even ask for refund.

[00:29:30] Brian: They're just like, we're just not going to do it. In that case, I had to own that. it was my bad mix. Yes, there were a few things wrong with like some guitar track parts that were just like noisy and gross that I over delivered by having them out to my studio and re recording it all.

[00:29:42] Brian: But I owned it and I made it right. So when something comes up in conflict, and it's something that is ultimately your fault, which if you've read the book, Extreme Ownership, or even understand the concept, Extreme Ownership, you know that almost all problems in your business are your fault. If your client is off, you likely [00:30:00] failed somewhere.

[00:30:00] Brian: Even going back to not filtering out red flag clients that you shouldn't be working with who are just toxic people. That's still your fault. If that person made it to the point where they're off, they've already paid you. They're your client. You still have to own it. And make it right.

[00:30:13] Brian: And this is one of the hardest ones to do because we have to swallow our pride and push away our own egos. So that's rule number three. Own it and make it right. But we have to counter that with rule number four, and that is don't let your client walk all over you. Many freelancers, we will bend over backwards for our clients.

[00:30:28] Brian: That's certain personalities and certain people. And that includes just letting your client walk all over you and you'll take the blame for everything. And there is a difference between being gaslit and owning it. Owning it is saying, I see the entire picture. I understand all of it. I see where I went wrong and I will own that And take my part of that and I'll make it right.

[00:30:47] Brian: Gaslighting is where your clients blame you for everything. They make you feel like They make you feel like you are the worst person and they can't believe that you let this happen. That's gaslighting. That's the stuff where clients will walk all over you. [00:31:00] You cannot let that happen either. there's a balance between having a backbone It takes ownership and taking it from place of strength while also taking care of your clients.

[00:31:08] Brian: There's that side and there's the other side of making sure we don't get walked all over to where it ruins our lives, ruins our businesses, ruins our relationships, makes her hate our jobs. There's a big difference there. And so you've got to look to yourself to figure out which one you more help in because most people are not masters of both of those things.

[00:31:23] Brian: I personally.

[00:31:24] Brian: Need more help in the owning it and making it right section because I have traditionally never let clients walk over me I've always been hard headed stubborn to a fault. But some people they're too nice. They let the clients walk all over them They would never have their clients Just be pushed back to an email or put into an app for client for centralizing communications because that's inconvenient for the client see what I'm saying? If the client is walking all over you, they're typically breaking some sort of boundary. That's the difference here. So those are my four kind of bonus rules on conflict resolution. I can't say these words anymore. Hopefully this episode was, fun for you. It was fun for me. I like talking about this kind of stuff.

[00:31:58] Brian: We're going to continue this series [00:32:00] next week. I think we actually have a guest coming on the podcast. I have an interview next week. coming up. So that'll be fun. Not going to talk about who, but it's a repeat guest. We haven't had that many repeat guests on this show. However, this series is about infinite clients.

[00:32:10] Brian: If you need more clients in general, you want to work towards the infinite clients. We've got to get clients the first place. So if you need help with client acquisition, then be sure to check out our coaching program, clients by design. I talked about our new coach, Josh. That started with us this week. If you want to learn more about the coaching program, just go to six figure creative. com slash coaching. Watch the video, fill out an application, see if you're a fit. If you are, we'll chat. If you're not, we'll let you know

[00:32:31] Brian: and you get on a pretty low pressure call with us and chat about your business. See if we can help. That is all I have for you this week. I will see you all next week. Thanks for checking out the six figure creative podcast. Bye.

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