My workflow when working with clients

As most of you must know, I offer web design and development services, and as a package, logo design. In this post, I’ll be outlining how I manage clients, how I communicate, at what milestones I charge, and what tools I use.

(Note: This post is written considering you have talked to the client, and you have arrived on a rough plan of action and pricing)

Making the invoice and collecting upfront.

This is something that is really important. You definitely have to collect upfronts from the client! I usually take around 40% upfront, but for smaller projects, I charge around 60%. If your client refuses paying upfront, he probably isn’t trust-able—proceed with caution. Try and negotiate a smaller amount for upfront.

Great, so you’ve decided on the upfront now. Remember to tell the % and the monetary value, both, when talking about prices.

Now, I’ll fire up Pancake (Pancake is a nifty little one-time payment app, which manages everything from clients to invoices) and add a new client, and create an invoice for the client. I divide the invoice into parts, and the in the specified areas for comments, I write upfront,  and divide the work into stages. (I’m on the beta, v4, of pancake, so you may not have everything in the older versions)

Usually, I divide work into 4 stages. Upfront, Design, Development, Deployment. Upfront is around 40%, and remaining have 20% each.

Stage I: Design

In this stage, I create a webstile for the client, host it on my server (on a subdomain), and send that over to the client for approval/changes. We make changes, and once the client approves, I charge for the design stage. Usually, I don’t get much revisions on this stage.

Stage II: Development

Here, I start developing the actual site, either simple HTML and CSS, or if it’s a WordPress theme, then the theme. For WordPress, I work in WAMP.

The files are then pushed to my server. I use Git to track and store changes.  The client checks the site, and asks for any changes. If we had discussed, I make the site responsive on this stage as well (Usually when  everything else is finalized)

This usually is the longest stage. If you anticipate that this is going to be complex and lengthy, I advice you to add in another milestone in this stage—just to keep you motivated ;)

Once the development’s done, I charge, and move on to the last stage.

Stage III: Deployment

Surprisingly, it isn’t unusual for clients to have a day or two to wait after the development stage for the deployment. It gives us both to relax a bit, to just look at the design and grow used to it.

When the client is ready, I charge, and email all the necessary files to him. If the client wants, he gives me FTP details, and I set up everything on his server.

Once this stage is over, we go our separate ways. I do offer a month’s support, but it is rare that any client needs it. I don’t charge for small revisions within this month, but anything major is charged. Once the month ends, I start charging even for basic things.

Apart from doing everything above, I list tasks in Pancake, and log my time. This isn’t something I do for every project, but instead, every once in a while to check on my speed and to see if I’m charging appropriately. If I’m doing work quicker, I increase my rates. If I took long for a project, I charge appropriately in the next one. Tracking isn’t ‘fun’ for me, but I believe it’s necessary.

Phew, and that’s it. Feel free to Tweet me on  how you manage clients, I’d love to improve.

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