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Communication and availability on freelance jobs

Whether you’re working across the street or around the world from your client, communication and availability on freelance jobs is of paramount importance.

Abbey Charles
Abbey Charles
· 3 min read
Pip Boy - Communication and availability working freelance

Nothing bungles a good project like bad communication. When you’re freelancing, you need to make sure you’re in lockstep with the client, and even more so if you’re freelancing with more than one client at a time. Fortunately with a little proper planning and a good cadence, you should be able to keep things in line and complete your project on time.

Establish how you will communicate from day one

When you first start on a new contract, make sure that you and the team or person you’re working with have an understanding of what communication looks like. Do they prefer communication over Slack or email? Should you be sending an end-of-day summary or a weekly round up? It’s obviously fine to communicate with more frequency when it’s necessary, but at the very least you should stick with the original schedule.

Availability around the world

The beauty of freelance tech work is that it can be done from pretty much anywhere you can get WiFi. That could be a cafe in Cusco, your friend’s apartment in Florence, or your very own couch in Boston. There are two ways to go about this. One, you work during the hours the client operates, regardless of which timezone you find yourself in. The other is to work asynchronously from the client, which takes a little more mastery of your communication skills.

If you’re working on a client’s business hours, you’ll need to plan your day around making yourself available when they are. Depending on how many hours’ difference there is, this can mean you’re working completely opposite hours (8am there is 8pm where you are), a slight shift (8am there is 12pm where you are), or something in between (8am there is 3pm where you are). Take into consideration what you want to do with your non-working hours, and accept jobs that cater to that. 

If you’re working asynchronously, you’ve got greater freedom, but need to make sure your communication skills are in tip-top shape. Written communication should be as detailed as possible, you should be extremely clear about what needs to be done to clear blockers, and expect that you will have to hop on a call once in a while to make sure everything is still on track.

Establish milestones along the way

It will be much easier to keep track of the work that has been done and what’s still to come if you and the client establish milestones together. Maybe that’s an expectation of the work to be done in a week, or it could be a stepping stone to completing the project as a whole. Whichever route you take, make sure you’re communicating where you are on the milestone and update the team when you’ve completed a vital part of the workload. 

Wrap up

Communication is key in every job, but even more important when you’re working as a freelancer. Establishing good habits makes it easy to stay on track, keeps clients happy, and can protect you from trouble if you’ve got everything documented.

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