Before you start any work for a client it might be best to ask yourself what milestones are in place. A contract without a clear structure or a fuzzy scope of work section could leave you always chasing a dangling carrot. If your client hasn’t already done so, it’s important for you to suggest milestones to make sure the project is on track.
3 Reasons Milestones Are Important To Freelancers
1. Milestones Enforce Clear Communication
When you are a freelancer every move you make should be to build trust. Not having those five days a week face to face interactions by default impacts the trust you have with your client. You need to make sure the activity you execute puts your client(s) at ease and builds trust 24/7.
A positive way to build trust is to agree on milestones for any given project. Even if your client doesn’t provide you milestones it still looks good on you to let the client know when and how work will be accomplished. Setting clear expectations and benchmarks adds an extra layer of security for your trust factor.
Both parties are aware that on a specific date the agreed upon scope of work will be turned in. Now the flip side to this is not setting these goals early on and having your client constantly reach out to you for updates. After awhile, that gets frustrating for all parties. Get ahead of this conversation.
2. Milestones Allow For Project Modifications
Have you ever spent a good ten hours on a project, turned it in thinking it was complete only to find out there were major issues with the work. Now the client is left with a ten-hour bill and a tough conversation to have with you. It’s not a fun position to be and happens ALL THE TIME.
You can get around this by setting up milestones that align with different stages of the project. This will do a couple things for you. The first, you’ll know whether you are on the right track. You’ll have the chance to make any needed updates before the project is beyond saving. The second, you will be enforcing clear communication and thus building trust with your client(s).
Finally, you will be able to take snapshots of the stages you turn in. Snapshots are important because you also want to have samples you can share with prospects who are interested in hiring you. Your portfolio should be diverse with different examples of the skills and solutions you offer. Milestones are an easy way to grab real world samples for you to leverage.
3. Milestones Give You An Opportunity To Walkaway
Not every project is what you think it will be. The scope of work changes. New team members are added. You just can’t perform the way you initially could. In these situations, you have a couple options.
You could subcontract the work (an option you can do on goLance). You can try to complete the work and risk failing. Or you can have milestones in place based on the different stages of the work.
Now you shouldn’t take projects on that you know you can’t complete. You’ll get a terrible reputation and will burn bridges. The use of milestones here is an honest way out of a project that just isn’t working out for you. What you want to do is chat with your client and let them know the truth.
Provide as much detail as you can on the stage of the project you are in and even offer solutions. Many freelancers on goLance take advantage of subcontracting and referrals to help their clients complete work.
Are Milestones Important To Freelancers?
Yes. You need to operate like a business. If you don’t, eventually you will be in over your head. Having tools and measures in place to make sure you are operating like a business will lead to more jobs. I guarantee it. Milestones are a great conversation to have with your client(s) and show just how professional you are. Leverage them. Have this conversation.