The not-so-obvious reason why your client projects drag on for months

Why do client projects drag on for what feels like forever? I know all too well how a project that you think will take a week or two can end up dragging on for months… and more months. It’s much more common that you probably think, it happened to me when I started my business, and I hear about it ALL the time from my students. 

When this happens, a project you were originally excited for starts to suck your soul like a Dementor from Harry Potter. Every time you open your email you both want to see an update from your client… and you don’t.

You just want it to be over.

Been there? I feel ya. And I hate to break the news, but the reason your client projects drag on for ages is probably because…

You haven’t properly prepared your clients

Oh, come on! Don’t blame this on me!

Did you say that? Or think that? I know, we want to blame our clients, and sometimes that may be the case, but more often than not, it’s a failure on our part to prep our clients for the project.

If your clients don’t know what to expect, they are likely going into the project completely unprepared, which can make things take muuuuuuuuuch longer than they need to.

You, being the expert, know exactly what you need from your clients, and when you need it. But assuming that they know what you need and when you need it is a huge problem, that not only drags the project out, but makes both you and your client irritated.

Your clients aren’t stupid or bad people (at least most of the time)

I want to make start out with this, because in the creative business world we love to bash our clients.

Not knowing doesn’t make your client stupid, or a client from hell, it makes them an expert in their field, hiring you, an expert in yours.

If your clients were experts in your field, they wouldn’t be hiring you, they’d be doing it themselves. So keep that in mind, because they need your professional, patient, and expert guidance.

What happens when clients aren’t prepared?

Well, obviously your client projects drag on for far too long, which is why you’re here. 😉 But let’s go a little deeper than that.

When your clients are unprepared, they don’t get you things you need in a timely manner. Things like login information, or images, or content, or whatever it is you need, because they haven’t gathered it in advance.

It’s a surprise to them when you request something, and it may take days, or even weeks (maybe even longer!) to get it, because they didn’t know.

For example, if you’re a web designer and expect your client to give you completed content for the website before you make it (which is the best method of making an effective website), but they don’t know that’s expected of them, the project can stall for months as they then have to hire a copywriter or write the content themselves, book a photoshoot, or look for stock images.

What seems obvious to you–needing content–is not obvious to them, because they don’t know your process.

As another example, maybe you’re the copywriter in this, and your client hires you to write content for their new website. You get the project started and then… they go on vacation, leaving you hanging when it comes to feedback and revision requests. They thought you were just going to write it and they weren’t needed again until it was done and they could send it on over to the web designer. Now boh you and the web designer are in limbo.

What seems obvious to you–needing feedback–is not obvious to them, because again, they don’t know your process.

I want to state this again because I want it to be clear: This doesn’t make your client stupid or a client from hell. It means that you didn’t prepare them properly.

When you don’t prepare your clients, everything takes longer.

So, how DO you prepare your clients?

Alright, so what the heck are you supposed to do?

My favorite way to prepare clients is with a double-whammy Intro Packet and Welcome Packet combo.

Intro Packet

You can use an Intro Packet to let potential clients know exactly what is expected of them throughout the project. You’ll create this document once (for each service) and send it to potential clients so that they can review and know what they will need to do before and during your time working together.

This is a big-picture view of how you work, and what you’ll need.

This will save a lot of back-and-forth before the project, as well as saving time during the project because your clients will be able to prepare in advance, and nothing will be a surprise.

Your potential clients know what’s expected of them, and if they are not willing to meet those expectations, you don’t waste any time with them. An Intro Packet automatically weeds them out.

After the project is official–meaning you and your client have signed a contract–you send the second step: a Welcome Packet.

Welcome Packet

A Welcome Packet contains the nitty gritty details. While the Intro Packet might tell your clients that they need to gather something like images for their website, the Welcome Packet will tell them exactly how to get those images to you, and in what format.

There is no guessing, no question, and no delay. Everything is clearly outlined and you can walk your clients through exactly what they need to do, step-by-step, without you having to hold their hand each time.

This double-whammy Intro/Welcome Packet combo can shave literal months off of your projects, and keep everything running smoothly and on time.

The best part is that you just have to make each once (for each service you offer) and then you can re-use them over and over again.

TL;DR:

If you’re not preparing your clients before the project begins, your projects can end up dragging on much longer than they should.

Let potential clients know what to expect with an Intro Packet, that will help them prepare before the project starts and eliminate surprises.

Keep your projects on-track after the contract is signed with a Welcome Packet that provides your clients with step-by-step instructions on how to provide you with what you need.

Take action!

Create your Intro Packet today

Get started by creating your own Intro Packet, in less than an hour. Watch the workshop now!

About Erin Flynn

Erin Flynn is the founder of Successfully Simple™, a hub for creative entrepreneurs who want to work less and live more. Erin’s mission is to help female creative entrepreneurs ditch the busywork and redesign their businesses around what success means to them. Find her on Instagram @SuccessfullySimple