Have you ever wondered if you should be providing an elevated customer portal for your freelance clients?
As a creative freelancer, your time, energy, and attention are your greatest and least renewable asset. Wasting that asset on the constant pursuit of new clients vs. nurturing your relationship with the clients you already have is a devastating mistake. One of the best ways to nurture that relationship and sweep your clients off their feet from day one is with an elevated client portal that streamlines project management, communications, and customer service.
Client portals sounds fancy and complicated to create but with this post, you can have yours in your client’s inbox within the hour. Make sure you subscribe and stick around till the end; I’ll hook you up with my Enchanting Client Portal Template.
Why Are Freelance Client Portals So Important?
At first, providing your freelance clients with their own portal can sound like an intimidating venture to add something that would be nice to have but isn’t really necessary, is it?
Or is it?
Here are some brow-raising stats showcasing how vital this step is to scale a freelance business:
- A client portal centralizes communication, reducing the likelihood of missed emails or messages. According to a study by McKinsey, employees spend 28% of their workweek managing email. A client portal can significantly reduce this time, making communication more efficient.
- According to Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences. A client portal allows for such customization.
- Automating processes through a client portal can lead to significant cost savings. Gartner reports that by 2023, organizations that have successfully implemented hyper-automation will reduce operational costs by 30%.
So as you can clearly see, providing an elevated freelance client portal is an urgent priority that has the potential to completely transform your business for the best.
4 Reasons It’s Urgent To Elevate Your Customer Service with a Client Portal:
As the creative freelance market grows increasingly competitive, it is more vital than ever to provide clients with a stellar customer experience while streamlining projects for maximum efficiency.
Although I know the use of AI in a creative or freelance business is a highly controversial topic at this point, there is no harm in leveraging these tools to streamline operations and remain competitive.
- First Impressions & Setting Great Expectations: Set stellar expectations and blow your clients away by giving them a clear roadmap of your project with real-time updates to affirm they made the right decision booking you. When done right, this portal will answer their most burning questions and future-pace their next purchase with you.
- Streamlined Project Management & Transparency: Some of the most common freelancer and freelance client complaints are around project management and communications with clients mid-project. Client portals eliminate those insecurities and inefficiencies by allowing both parties to communicate on specific threads, share documents in an organized fashion and giving the client more confidence in the work being completed.
- Increased Client Satisfaction & Retention: Clients prefer the feeling that services are being customized to fit their needs, but customization is the enemy of scale in service-based businesses. To overcome this conflict, provide a client portal built on a systemized process and customize the rest to fit the client.
- Cost-Effective Scalability: As the statistics above clearly prove, the client onboarding process along with back-and-forth communications and scope of work changes make scaling your 1X1 service-based business impossible. However, you can immediately reduce your workload per client with a portal that automates these processes for you.
Now that you’re sold on the urgency of adding a client portal to your freelance business, let’s expand on how to create a client portal that will meet all these requirements. It isn’t enough to provide any portal; it must be created with intention and strategy.
How To Wow Your Retainer and VIP Day Rate Clients With Your Client Portal
It isn’t enough to provide any portal; it must be created with intention and strategy. That said, it doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Obviously, your client portal(s) will vary based on your freelance niche but here are some universal suggestions that will have you enchanting clients in no time.
- Your onboarding process
- Your contracts, agreements, and amendments
- Your boundaries and expectations
- Billing and Invoices
- Your constructive feedback and approval system
- Mobile Accessibility
I prefer to build most client portals with tools like Trello because it is cost-effective, easy to use, quick to set up, the clients already know it and it checks all my other boxes as well. If you work in finance, law or healthcare you may require something more secure but for most freelance service providers Trello (and the template I’m going to give you) is the path of least resistance.
Personally, I love that it allows me to instantly create a client portal from my template, tweak it for custom feel for my clients and I have everything all in one place. It has been a game-changer for me.
Not to mention the insane number of calls for something small that turned into an hour-long chat with clients that would fuck up my whole day. Now every little stray question and concern gets tackled quickly and seamlessly through the Trello board.
4 Steps To Creating An Elevated Customer Portal For Your Freelance Projects
Now that I’ve got you turned on by how much this client portal is going instantly gift you back hours of free time, let’s talk about the actionable steps you can take to elevate your client journey.
1. Review Your Service Menu
You should have a Trello (I’m NOT a paid affiliate) template for every service that you provide prebuilt around your systemized process.
Imagine for example, a new freelance fantasy portrait photography client books with you for your new promo that you’re running for Christmas cards. Include any preliminary forms you need completed prior to the shoot along with checklists they might need, FAQ’s etc. right in the Trello Board. That way, when you get a huge influx of bookings for your new service, your entire process is automated, saving you a day’s worth of work per client.
But if you’re already busy, creating a Trello board template for every service will become overwhelming. This is a good time to streamline that service menu and focus on building out templates for your bestselling services. Make sure you subscribe if you want to find out how to repackage those Trello templates into bestselling digital products for passive recurring revenue.
2. Review Your Onboarding Process & Create Templatized Trello Cards
Next, review your onboarding process to find opportunities to streamline or make updates before creating standardized Trello cards for your contracts, questionnaires, preliminary assessments, and most asked questions. You may wish to spend some time reflecting on your best and most turbulent client experiences to identify additional gaps you can close by providing everything up front in a client portal.
3. Review Your Existing Systems and Processes For Your Freelance Services
Creating these Trello templates to mirror your services is an opportunity to review the systems and processes you have in place for the services you sell. Don’t have any yet? No worries! This is your chance! Map your customer’s journey from problem realization to the point where they refer you to everyone they know. That journey is your roadmap to creating a thoughtful portal that is tailored to your clients’ most common concerns.
4. Customize It To The Client
Start customizing your portal by recording a personalized video in Loom and linking to it in the Welcome card of the Trello Board. I also like to walk them around the board in that video the way you would show a client around your home if they came over for a VIP day with you. Next, you could create branded card covers that match your clients’ brand and aesthetic or you could customize it to something personal like their favorite colors. Adding personalized gifts like journals, planners, and digital gift cards to brands you know your client will love is another elevated touch.
How To Leverage Your New Enchanting Client Portal For Maximum Profits
We’ve proven your Client Portal is a vital and urgent tool you need to scale your freelance business! These tips will help you truly maximize your ROI for the time you spend developing and customizing your portal:
Use Your Client Portals Close Hot Leads On The Fence: When you have a hot lead that seems nervous about what to expect from working with you, taking them through a client portal can be intensely soothing. So many of our freelance clients are visual people and allowing them to see how professional, systemized, organized and transparent you are via your portal will seal the deal.
Fill Your Freelance Client Portals With Upsells & Affiliate Links: Be very selective and strategic about it, but definitely add upsell offers, downsell offers, and affiliate links to products you (deeply trust) that will work well for the client. This is another customization opportunity! You might even drop in special sales or offers into their portal to keep them engaged with the portal and wow them with your customer experience.
Automate As Much As Possible: The more you use these Trello boards and templates, the more sophisticated you will become in using them. Leverage that growth to constantly streamline these templates, implementing client feedback and your own reflections to make them work harder for you and your clients. Add checklists, color-coded labels and even digital stickers to passively give your clients the illusion of you holding their hand through the entire process.
Showcase Your Client Portals In Your Marketing: Your fancy new Enchanting Client Dashboard is nothing to be shy about! Update your marketing materials, get loud in your socials, celebrate with an email campaign showcasing all the ways the portals make you the right choice for customers and put it center stage on your service sales pages.
Download Your Copy of My Enchanting Client Dashboard Trello Template
Ultimately, I decided the fastest way to make sure you implement what you just learned is by setting you up with a free copy of the base Trello template I started with for my client portals. This template gives you a strong head start but I really encourage you to incorporate all the tips above to make it your own and make it work best for you and your business.
If you would like access to a growing collection of Trello boards, templatized systems, and coaching on how to streamline and scale your freelance business without adding more service hours, join my Secret Society of Femme Fatale Freelancers. Doors are only open a limited time every year.