top of page

2024 Must-have: Client Manifesto | Freelancer Boundaries for Sustainable Success

Freelancing is a fulfilling and freeing thing, but only if you do it the right way, the sustainable way. It's about establishing a robust set of rules and boundaries that not only protect your interests but also foster a conducive working relationship with clients. In this guide, we present a comprehensive "Client Manifesto" — a set of rules and guidelines that can help freelancers ensure consistent income, attract respectful clients, and prevent burnout.

Collage © Ina Moana

Onboarding Process

All clients must undergo a meticulous onboarding process, providing either a thorough briefing or participating in an onboarding session. This ensures clarity from the outset, minimizing the risk of misunderstandings down the line.

Explanation: An onboarding process or briefing session helps align expectations, clarify project details, and establish a strong foundation for collaboration.

Benefits: Reduces misunderstandings and ensures both parties are on the same page for a smoother workflow.

Contractual Commitment

Every freelance engagement demands a signed official contract, whether it's a retainer or an X-month plan. A well-crafted contract is the foundation of a transparent and professional relationship, setting expectations for both parties.

Explanation: A signed contract provides legal protection, defines project scope, outlines payment terms, and sets clear expectations for deliverables.

Benefits: Establishes a professional and transparent relationship, mitigates legal risks, and provides a reference point for dispute resolution.

Upfront Payment Assurance

To secure commitment and maintain a healthy cash flow, freelancers should require a minimum of 50% payment in advance before commencing any work. This ensures your efforts are valued from the start and you are financially worry free.

Explanation: Requiring at least 50% upfront payment demonstrates a commitment from the client and ensures a steady income for the freelancer.

Benefits: Improves cash flow, acknowledges the value of the freelancer's time, and reduces the risk of non-payment or late payments.

Time Management Transparency

Clients must provide a clear timeline, deadline, or similar framework for project completion. This not only aids in effective project planning but also helps prevent last-minute rushes and potential burnout.

Explanation: Clear timelines help in effective project planning of all ongoing projects, preventing last-minute rushes that can lead to burnout.

Benefits: Enhances project organization, sets realistic expectations, and allows freelancers to manage their workload efficiently.

Login & Asset Delivery Deadline

Within two weeks of payment, clients are obligated to provide all necessary assets. Without these assets, no work will commence, ensuring a smooth workflow and preventing unnecessary delays.

Explanation: Timely asset delivery within two weeks streamlines the workflow, reducing project delays and maintaining project momentum.

Benefits: Prevents unnecessary downtime, ensures the project progresses as planned, and reflects a mutual commitment to project success.

Collage © Ina Moana

Late and Rush Fees Accountability

For any extraordinary work that demands urgency, clients are required to pay late and rush fees. This incentivizes realistic project timelines and acknowledges the value of your time and effort.

Explanation: Late and rush fees incentivize clients to respect project timelines and the urgency of specific tasks.

Benefits: Encourages realistic project planning, compensates freelancers for additional stress and effort, and reinforces the importance of adhering to timelines.

Participation in Feedback Sessions

Clients must actively participate in feedback and revision meetings, signing off on each project stage before proceeding. This promotes accountability and minimizes the risk of last-minute changes.

Explanation: Active client involvement in feedback sessions ensures clarity, reduces the likelihood of last-minute changes, and facilitates a collaborative working relationship.

Benefits: Enhances project communication, minimizes misunderstandings, and fosters a sense of shared responsibility for project success.

Additional Work Recognition

Revisions beyond the agreed scope should be treated as additional work and invoiced accordingly. This ensures that your efforts are compensated fairly, maintaining the integrity of the initial project agreement.

Explanation: Treating revisions as additional work and invoicing accordingly ensures that freelancers are fairly compensated for scope changes.

Benefits: Maintains the integrity of the initial project agreement, avoids scope creep, and values the freelancer's expertise and time.

Communication Consistency

Clients are expected to stick to the agreed-upon medium of communication, fostering a streamlined and efficient exchange of information throughout the project.

Explanation: Sticking to an agreed-upon communication medium streamlines information exchange, reducing the risk of miscommunication and delays.

Benefits: Improves efficiency, enhances project communication, and establishes a professional standard for interactions.

Invoice Settlement Precondition

Outstanding invoices must be settled before the commencement of any new work. This ensures a steady income stream and a healthy financial relationship between freelancers and clients.

Explanation: Settling outstanding invoices before commencing new work ensures a consistent income stream and a healthy financial relationship.

Benefits: Maintains financial stability, reduces the risk of late payments, and fosters a professional approach to invoicing and payment.

No Discounts Policy

There should be no room for discounts. Valuing your work means setting a standard rate that reflects your expertise and the quality of your deliverables.

Explanation: Avoiding discounts establishes a standard rate that reflects the freelancer's expertise and the value of their work.

Benefits: Preserves the freelancer's perceived value, maintains fair compensation, and establishes a consistent pricing structure.

No Free Trials or Assignments

Freelancers should avoid engaging in free trial work, tests, or assignments. This policy safeguards your time and expertise, ensuring that every task is appropriately compensated.

Explanation: This protects the freelancer's time and expertise, ensuring every task is compensated.

Benefits: Values the freelancer's skills, discourages exploitation of free work, and sets a standard for fair compensation from the outset.

Offboarding Excellence

Explanation: Implementing a thorough offboarding process that includes client reviews, metrics analysis, and opportunities for upselling establishes a professional conclusion to the project.

Benefits: Gathers valuable feedback for improvement, provides data-driven insights for future projects, and opens doors for potential additional work, fostering a long-term client relationship.

Requesting Status Quo Metrics

Explanation: Regularly asking for status quo metrics allows freelancers to gauge project progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensures alignment with client expectations.

Benefits: Enhances project transparency, facilitates proactive issue resolution, and demonstrates a commitment to delivering high-quality work that meets or exceeds client standards.

Clarify Licenses and Usage

Explanation: Clearly defining licenses and usage rights for content, designs, and open files in the contract prevents disputes and ensures both parties understand the terms of intellectual property ownership.

Benefits: Avoids legal complications, establishes clarity on ownership and usage rights, and protects the freelancer's intellectual property while promoting a transparent and respectful collaboration.

Crafting a Client Manifesto is not about being rigid; it's about establishing a framework that protects your interests, nurtures respectful client relationships, and ultimately contributes to your long-term success as a freelancer. By setting clear boundaries, freelancers can create a working environment that is not only financially rewarding but also conducive to personal and professional growth.

TLDR? Want to stick these guidelines to your workspace's wall? Download the Client Manifesto for FREE - simply subscribe to the newsletter and you'll receive an email right away :)


bottom of page