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Ginger cake and tears

I made a client cry last month. Now I’m pretty sure that’s up there with the things you are not supposed to do as a freelancer. Just underneath ‘never tell a client their deadline is ridiculous’.

We were having an email chat about what changes to make to her baking website; a brand that’s all about the importance of family and tradition as well as bread making. My suggestion was to include stories about her own experience. Stories about how the brand came to be and recipes that have particular meaning to her family. Things I thought that would resonate with her audience and build an emotional connection. So to demonstrate my point, I told her the story of why I baked a ginger cake for my mum this Christmas and what that recipe meant to me. I hadn’t intended for it to be a sad story so when she came back and said I had made her cry, I felt a little bad!

I read great articles on LinkedIn all the time about the importance of brand storytelling. About being authentic and connecting with your audience. Most of what I read I tend to agree with but I don’t usually think about the interactions I have with my own clients every day in such grand terms. But I should. These exchanges are an intrinsic part of my brand and what I offer. Of course, the design stuff is important but making the whole process easy and stress-free by good communication is just as key.

I know that working remotely with a freelancer is not for everyone. It's an argument I come up against from time to time. The best reassurance I can give is that I’ve never actually met 95% of my clients. They are spread far and wide across the UK and some even further afield. But most would say they see me as an extension of their own team who genuinely cares about their brand. The fact that I have never met my baking client and that we live on opposite sides of the country has not stopped us forging a great and ongoing working relationship. There are so many ways to stay in touch in 2020, it’s about finding which ways work best for each client. And about being clear from the outset about how best to communicate. For some, it’s regular video calls and screen sharing. Others prefer a chat on the phone with quick progress updates. Some send me WhatsApp messages and for others, it’s all about the email.

My business is just like yours and every other one out there. It doesn’t matter if we are talking face to face, or pixel to pixel, I need to deliver what I promise. For me, the medium or location is not what's important, the service is. I may be remote, but it’s on me to ensure it never feels that way to my clients.

So whilst I'm not intending to make any more clients cry, in this instance I'm glad I did as it reminded me it's OK to show a more human side in business and also that the stories we choose to share can be a very powerful thing. If you would like to chat about how using a remote freelancer could work for your business or you just need a good gingerbread recipe, get in touch in whatever way works for you.


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