The Value of the Deadline

by · August 20, 2012


Today, I’d like to share one of the best secrets to my success. Don’t. Miss. Deadlines.

While this isn’t the only thing you need to find success – we can’t forget about Pricing Strategies or Understanding What the Client Wants, for example – it is one of the most important. When it comes to deadlines, here’s the number one thing to remember.

Clients can, and will, miss deadlines. Freelancers can’t. Ever.

Every project you work on is going to have a deadline. Our job as freelancers is to negotiate the project needs and let the client know how long it will take to complete. The client will need this information for their own timeline, so they can meet their own objectives.

Here are a few Dos and Don’ts that I use on my projects:

·         Do be realistic with the client as to how much time you need to complete the project.

·         Do provide a timeline to clearly communicate when you are going to deliver each component, and how long the client has to get back to you to stay on track (A Gantt chart works nicely here).

·         Do keep the client in the loop – open communications help you be aware of any changes and let the client know you’re on track.

·         Do hustle. There are going to be times when your client needs you to give them a quick turnaround on a project. If you can deliver, you can help them look like a hero. This can be very good for your career. (Be aware of clients who always need a quick turnaround, and work with them to identify ways of getting the projects to you earlier).

·         Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you tell the client you will have it back to them tomorrow at 3, have it back to them at or before 3 – their time (being specific about deadlines across international time zones is important, too).

·         Don’t call the client on the due date to let them know you need more time. If you have to push the deadline, give them time to prepare for it.

·         Don’t ignore or avoid your client’s calls or emails. If you’re running behind, let them know. Don’t flake out and make your client think you’ve disappeared.

·         Don’t blame the client. You are going to find that some of your clients take a long time to provide you with feedback or approvals. This is normal, and this is why you need to build it into your timeline. Expecting your client to drop everything they’re doing to get back to you immediately is not going to happen – or even worse – will cause the client to think you’re a PITA (pain in the… butt).

Here’s a good article to help you estimate your time accurately.

At the end of the day, if you miss your deadlines you are going to frustrate your client and cause challenges on their side. This is not going to help you earn more business from them, and they are more likely to choose a different freelancer who can deliver on time, every time.

Be clear about the expectations and always focus on completing your projects on or before the due date, and you will find your reputation for delivering on time helps you get more, and better, freelance projects.

What are some of the tips and tricks you use to deliver your projects on time?





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Discussion2 Comments

  1. tino says:

    Hi Jason, Thanks! Your tips are very practical, clear, simple and concise. Good reminders!

  2. asad says:

    Above are some good do and dont’s. I personally think that one learn and master them all with time as their is no golden rules cause every persona and every job is different and a lot of variable are involved. I advise people to be the client they themselves would want to serve.

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