How do you balance automation without losing the personal touch with client as a freelancer?

Good Q man. There’s quite a few parts to it…

🔵 Eliminate, Systemize, Optimize, Automate

Before I automate I’ve already cut a lot of stages out that don’t add any value to the project.
Most of the stuff I’m automating is admin and busiwork.

Instead of calls I do Looms.
The client sees my face & gets the personal touch, but without the small-talk.

🔵 Email

Emails are a major time sap for projects.
Many freelancers waste a lot of time emailing back and forth.
Every email generates more emails.
I’d say 80% of emails aren’t needed.
Emails are an art.
Spend 50% longer on every email you send.
Use conditional statements, offer multiple A/B/C options, pre-empt the next step, the next question, make sure you have all the needed info to progress.
Spend longer now, to eliminate future emails.

🔵 Comms

Make sure all your comms are on one channel.
Use apps and  tools to gather the info you need in one place in advance to speed up the timeline.
I have an onboarding system that means I get all the info I need collected upfront, which skips a lot of emailing throughout the project.

🔵 Templates

You find yourself saying the same things over & over.
Never do things twice.
Create email templates for the FAQs.
Write guides for the complex topics.
Record Looms with SOPs.
When asked you can simply paste a link to your client so it looks like you’re going the extra mile with advice.

🔵 Feedback

Many freelancers still emailing designs and drafts across.
You can’t get quality Feedback over email.

I do fewer, in-depth 1-1 zooms at key milestones.
Zooms take longer than emails, but there’s less rounds of revisions,
Plus the client gets to feel ownership over the project.
In the long run it saves time to spend a bit longer with clients.

🔵 Always get a happy ending.

People only remember the beginning & the ending.
The lasting impression they have of your service is based 80% on the end.
Most people fuck up the end.

I do “offboarding” to get feedback, improve my process, get a video testimonial, so the last thing the client sees is my face.

I go the extra mile.
I put together a “superhero pack” for my Design Hero clients and post it to them. It’s go some merch, sweeties, a superhero outfit, some lego. Each pack costs me about £30.
But it leaves them with a next level experience, and it sticks in their head, for the next time they get my referral email they are more likely to pass my name on.

There’s no way to automate these special touches.
Sometimes going that extra 10% manually pays off in the long run.

So that’s how I do Personal touch + time saved.


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Nicholas Robb

Founder, Design Hero
Author of Life by Design

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