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I am new to freelancing world and now try to find some projects to work with. I am not a native English speaker, so I just wonder is it possible to "talk" with client about project details only through mail?

7

Okay? That's 80-90% of my client communication.

It's perfectly fine to communicate through email. But I do have a few suggestions:

  • Spell properly - poor spelling in emails reflects poorly upon you
  • Use proper grammar as much as possible. - No one is perfect, but at least make an effort.
  • NEVER use "txt" abbreviations - U, R U, BRB, AFAIK, IMO, etc are all very bad in emails.
  • Use line feeds and space paragraphs properly. A single chunk of 500 words in an email is VERY difficult to read. Break it up.
  • Realize people read email a lot like they do web pages - they skim. So use lists and single sentences to create some emphasis in areas.
  • Do not use HTML email. Many email clients will display plain text emails. If not by default, because that's how they have been set. Send your emails as organized plain text. There's absolutely no need for html in client communications.
  • Keep it as brief as possible. If you can't write a short, brief email, then calling would be better, or a face to face.
  • Great Answer! I would add to always start with salutation like "Hi <clientname>," and always close with a signature as well. It makes a difference in how professional you come across. – Tech Savant May 7 '15 at 23:54
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    Excellent point, @NotoriousPet0 . Salutations and closing lines are also imperative. It's amazing how far simply starting an email with a salutation will take you. – Scott May 8 '15 at 2:18
  • I let the clients call me by phone only for emergency or things very long to explain by writing. This way I have all the history of what we talked about... usefull if you don't remember something you said or they said... without taking notes. – Fil May 22 '15 at 16:25
6

Absolutely! It's written communication, and does not require you to "speak" to the client with your voice.

The greatest thing about written communication is that you have a paper trail of what was said, and there's no going back on someone's word. Hopefully, you are talking to local clients who will follow the same laws as you, making collecting payment easier.

4

Normally this is okay, but it depends on the client! No one can say "it's always okay to only communicate via email" because some clients will insist on phone calls and won't hire someone who can't communicate via phone. Only a quarter of my clients have had this attitude but it's something to be aware of. Make sure you are honest about not being able to take calls before they hire you, and you should be fine. If you don't feel comfortable saying you don't speak English, tell them you only communicate via email so that you have a written record of all of your correspondence.

  • 1
    You're right!! Honesty in skills is the first thing. – Frogmouth May 11 '15 at 14:36
  • Also always offer the ability to use encrypted email, if required. – eionmac Jan 26 at 16:52
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I've been freelancing full time for the last 10 years. My clients do not even have my phone number. If they do get it, I don't answer when they call. It is very rare that I take a call, and I have been doing fine. If someone insists on a call, I just don't do business with them. I turn down about 25% to 50% of leads due to unwillingness to talk on the phone.

When I first started freelancing I did not have this policy and not only wasted hours and hours on phone calls chit chatting about unrelated things. (because some clients like to do that), but also every phone call client ended up being a huge time waster. So I only talk to existing established clients of many years and many thousands in invoices paid. I have established client levels and some of them get better treatment than others.

Bottom line is if I never talked to anyone except on email, I'd not really see any change in my business, but expect to turn away 25% - 50% of clients because you won't be able to use the phone for an initial call. (some people tend to like that.. it makes them feel better about doing business with you.)

I would encourage you to work on your phone skills so one day you can talk with them and increase your market.

  • 1
    Hi Notorious Pet0, I removed your extra link initially because learning web technologies has absolutely nothing to do with communicating via email. Inter-question linking is not necessary, especially when the questions are so vastly different. In addition, it creates confusion for users and only serves to muddy the waters, so to speak. Your other answer is here, on the site, and will be found by those looking for that information. However, that information is not valuable for this question. Please realize that StackExchange sites are strict question & answer sites, not discussion forums. – Scott May 8 '15 at 19:30
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I do 90% plus of business by email, but I follow courteous letter writing format in email composition (in pure text, no HTML!), use a formal salutation normal for area and language, add a date/time inside the email message, so you have a time stamp outside the message headers (as in a formal letter) and use a closing formal salutation. This helps cosiderably if you ever have to go to court or dispute to resolve payments or such like. 'Informal use such as "hi, price is XXX joe" does not go well in resolving disputes. Also the style is professional , which is what you want.

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I've had several long-time clients (three years or more) where my only communication has been email. I've never talked with them on the phone or used Skype, and have never met them in person. It's never been a problem.

Although I use email, I never send text messages to a client. For some reason, that seems unprofessional. Perhaps the association with kids sending texts.

Email is great because you have something you can go back and review if needed. Even if one were to record their telephone conversations, you can't do a search.

0

From my perspective, I most like email because as others have noted, there's a paper trail. But! I have found that for my clients it works better if I'm available to discuss things by phone and in fact that sometimes seems to be the only way to actually solve certain problems. I stayed away from phone communication as long as I could, but I now find that for my business, it's much better to offer that when issues get complicated or confusing.

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