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My friend and I recently went into freelancing a few months ago. We've had a couple of clients we completed projects for so far, all of which for people who did not have a site.

Recently we had a meeting with a potential client who had his company's site built by an agency out of state. He was looking to hire someone more local to fix some design issues and bugs on his site. We had a face-to-face with him then told him we will send over our rates the next day.

When we send over our rates to clients, we also send over a draft of our contract, which includes a page with a detailed list of what work will be done for them. This is just used as a paper trail so we can assure that no disputes over what work was agreed upon will happen later on.

A while after we sent over our rates, we did not hear back from our potential client. We checked his site and noticed that some revisions were made in accordance to the list we sent to him. We speculate that he just took our details and sent them over to the agency he was already working with, using us as free consultation.

We are admittedly livid, but are going to take this as a learning experience for future clients. I'm wondering how much detail should we provide to a client when discussing what work we can do for their site?

We want to confirm what work we will do for them, but don't want to spend too much time doing free design consultation for them.

  • Ask the client to provide you a list of what he wants to work on and review the wording. Unfortunately this happens quite often. We recently had a client leave after getting tons of free advice from us. He told us he went for a cheaper option. So just try reviewing the list from the client; ask them to provide a list f what they expect you to work on and if you meet them face to face have them draft the list and send it to you for review. Giving them advice is cool and you should continue to do so, just let them work for it. – Indra Apr 4 '18 at 13:52
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I generalize as much as possible.

  • Improve navigation discoverability
    • NOT Improve navigation discovery by increasing button size , creating drop down menus, changing color, moving to left.
  • Increase Call to Action visibility on home page
    • NOT Increase home page call to action by adding a hero image with direct link to sales route
  • Utilize dynamic content
    • NOT Create dynamic content via animation in hero image to show products/services offered
  • Integrate Social Media
    • NOT Integrate social media by adding newsfeed of recent Twitter posts.

Those sorts of things. I cover the areas I feel could benefit from improvements but not anything specific in regards to what those improvements may be. If they take my general improvements list to someone else, well they may have a bullet list of things to look at, but no direct suggestions in terms of implementation.

After a contract is signed and initial payments, then I'll go into more detail regarding changes.

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When I get a new client with an existing system, I bill them the initial assessment with a reasonably hourly rate. The same goes for new clients who want to see drafts. I also offer them to discount 50% off of the price of that assessment if they book me for (some of) the items I found.

That way the info is theirs and paid, and they can go to whom they want for implementation. They also have a incentive to stay with me.

You´ll certainly scare some clients off with this tactic, but you can answer for your own if those are the clients you will really miss...

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