While having “too many” clients may sound like a good problem to have, once you are in that situation – it’s less than ideal. You may end up feeling stressed to the max, always playing catch up and working crazy hours. Plus, you’re more likely to disappoint your current clients.
Even if you feel far from being overbooked, I still encourage you to give this post a read. That way, you’re prepared for the day when it happens! If you’re already in this situation, that’s amazing! Kudos to you for hustling and getting that client roster full, but let’s fix it. I want you to feel a little bit more in balance with #allthethings.
Set yourself up for success
To best handle a full client load, you need to set yourself up for success. Before you can start booking clients in advance, you’ve got to set yourself up to do it the right way.
Step 1 – Know how long your projects take
You need to know how long your regular packages take before you can start booking out your services. Take a look back at your last several months of client work and note how long each project took you to complete.
Make sure to calculate timelines in terms of weeks and months but also how long you worked on that project per day as well. You can find the average of those numbers to help with your stats, but it is always better to overestimate in this situation.
After you’ve done that, take a few minutes to reflect on whether that is the way you want things to look. Are you happy with those turnaround times? What about how many hours you worked on client projects per day? Keep that in mind throughout the next steps.
Step 2 – Decide how many you can take on at a time
Using what you learned from your stats review from step one plus your past experience with client projects, decide how many projects you can take on at once. I only take on one project at a time, but many designers I know take on 2-3 projects, depending on the type of work involved.
Step 3 – Set expectations
One of the hardest things about booking clients in advance is dealing with a potential client who shoots you an email wanting to start ASAP (like last week, ASAP) on a project. The best way to avoid having to break the bad news over the phone or via email is to have your next available start date visible in at least one spot on your services page.
On my website, whenever there is a button for them to fill out an inquiry form, there’s also a line telling them my next available start date. That way, even if I’m booked out 6 months in advance, they’re not going to reach out to me and then be disappointed, they know my availability going in.
Step 4 – Give clients something to work on while they’re waiting
Once a client has agreed to book in advance and get a spot on your calendar, give them something to do in the meantime. For most designers, having clients prep their content, such as creating a mood board or filling out a detailed questionnaire is a great place to start.
Put it into action
Now that you’re set up to start booking in advance successfully, it’s time to do it! Use steps 1 and 2 to figure out your next available start date. Block off your calendar until that date and update your services page. That way, if anyone inquires for your services, they know when their project will begin.
Each time your book a project, add it to your project calendar. This can be within Google Calendar, inside of Dubsado, or sticky notes on your wall for each available opening. You need to have a visual for yourself somewhere to keep track of your client roster.
When your last slot gets filled during a specific period, update your services page with your availability – AND STICK WITH IT. You’ll still have people ask if you can start any earlier and it’s easy to say “yes” in the moment to make them happy. Stick to your boundaries and remember why you came up with the scheduling limits you created earlier in this post.
Start booking in advance today
Before you click over to read another blog post, close this tab, or grab your phone to scroll through Instagram, I want you to take 5 minutes to put this all into place.
If you’re booked right now, update your services page to what you think will be your next available start date. Then start handling steps 1 and 2 covered above to figure out your timelines. All of this together will help you start booking your clients in advance! Now get to it!