Client Onboarding Tips For Freelancers

Creating a client onboarding process is a two-fold victory: it’s going to manage your client’s expectations and it’s going to establish how you operate as a freelancer. This will solidify your process and build confidence for both you and your clients.

Assumption will be the death of your practice because even the best-laid plans can unravel. There is no room for preconceived notions of what you or your client can expect, it’s vital that everything is detailed clearly from the outset so nothing is misinterpreted, forgotten, or confused. This is specifically important when it comes to the scope of work, deliverables, and freelance rates. Onboarding documents establish the ground rules so the goalposts don’t move midway through the project.

Confirm Client Expectations

We all dream of the perfect client, however, in the real world not all freelance gigs are going to be easy-breezy, in fact, some we are going to loathe. Sometimes we just need to pay the bills and that’s perfectly fine. A crucial part of the onboarding process ensures every client knows exactly what they’re getting and what they’re not getting for their budget. Clients are able to communicate their expectations and ask questions upfront; you get to counter and confirm what you can deliver on budget – then everyone is on the same page before the project actually begins.

If you have never considered a client onboarding process or you are brand new to the gig economy, answering the following questions is necessary for you to create your own freelancing process, so that you come across as professional and your client feels they have made the right choice.

Your Mission Statement

You have to know how you operate before you can communicate it to your clients. It will be invaluable for you to take some time to write your own mission statement. Make clear what you offer, your unique contribution, and why that’s valuable in your market.

If you are struggling to define your mission statement, SWOT analysis is always a great resource to learn more about your business self.


  • What are you good at?
  • What are you better at than anyone else?
  • What is your competitive advantage?
  • What do you do that no one else does?
  • What resources are at your disposal?
  • Do you have staff?
  • What valuable assets do I have?
  • What do our customers like about my service?


  • What am I bad at?
  • What do my competitors do better?
  • What do my clients complain about?
  • What advantages does the team carry?
  • What is holding me back?
  • Which resources am I lacking?
  • What could I improve?


  • What potential regulation changes could help your business?
  • Is the market changing in a favorable way?
  • Is the current economy going to affect me in a positive way?
  • What opportunities have I not pursued yet?
  • What new opportunities are becoming available?
  • Is the cost of good going down?
  • Is there a way to acquire usefu resources?


  • Who are your existing competitors?
  • What new entrants to the market could threaten my business?
  • Is my market size declining?
  • Is the industry changing in a way that could negatively impact my business?
  • Is your cost of goods increasing?
  • Is a supply you rely on becoming scarce?
  • Are regulations changing in a way that could hurt your business?

Client Onboarding Fundamentals

Clients will gain confidence through a thoughtful well-executed process and you will gain valuable intel by asking insightful, relevant questions. Done well, this could be the first step of a productive long-term business relationship.

Client 101

The most fundamental information is asked first: the who, when, and where of engagement.

  • Company name, address, phone, email, social media, website address
  • Point of contact for the job and their details
  • Platform and software logins plus relevant access information
  • Preferred times and methods of communication
    Request project brand files, logos, slogans, files, and documents

Understanding Their Business

How does your client interact with their clients? What are they passionate about and committed to achieving with their products and services? Knowing their perspective enables you to align with their branding.

  • What is the brand story that sells your business?
  • 5 words that describe your business?
  • What are your project goals?
  • Who is your ideal client?
    What do they need from your business?
  • Where are they located?
  • How do you solve their problems or address their needs?
  • What experience do you want your customer to have?
  • How do they access your products or services?

Understanding Their Competitors

Knowing your client’s competition is key to understanding how they position themselves in the market. This often reveals as much about them as their competitors.

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What do you do better?
  • Why would customers choose your business over them?
  • What is their pricing model?
  • What do their customers say about them?

Your Process vs Their Expectations

It’s crucial your client understands how you operate; from schedules to delivery, scope, budgets, contracts, and resources. This is where you communicate your work process and give them the opportunity to provide their input.

If you are not crystal clear about the exact term of your freelance obligations, things can get complicated and expensive. If you ask the questions upfront, both parties agree before the work begins. Confirm the following:

  • Detailed Project Overview
  • Establish All Objectives
  • Specific Scope of Work
  • Create Task List
  • Map A Schedule
  • Deliverable Dates
  • Staff Input and Resources
  • Rates
  • Upfront Deposit
  • Contracts

Client onboarding questionnaires genuinely engage your client, make them feel valued, heard, and welcome. They build on the great first impression you made with your pitch and establish your process. Managing client expectations is a key part of successful freelancing. Give yourself a running start and make the entire process efficient and effortless.

A quick footnote: consider the following questions professionals ask freelancers, this may inform some of the questions you ask professionals.

The Freelancing Mindset e-Book

Want to be notified when we have new news, resources, tips, and courses? JOIN NOW and we'll send you The Freelance Mindset e-Book FREE!