A common freelancer conundrum is how to know if you’re doing a good job when getting client feedback is notoriously difficult.

The “not getting feedback” thing is a good lesson to learn at the beginning of your freelance career because it’s a trend you can expect to continue. 😅 In my experience, it’s rare for freelance clients to provide feedback, good or bad.

That doesn’t mean there’s zero way of determining whether or not you’re getting it right, though. You just have to know which signals to watch for.

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You’re Getting Client Feedback — You Just Don’t Realize It

Two people exchanging a heart to represent getting freelance client feedback.

I started my full-time freelance career in 2009 by writing for content mills, so from the start, I never received or expected much client feedback. 

⭐️ Instead, I’ve always thought of the “feedback” as: Is this client continuing to come to me for work? That’s the best indicator of whether or not you’re doing a good job.

What about those clients who don’t continue working with you? Does that mean you’re doing a bad job?

Not necessarily. Over time, you’ll see how things are trending to get a better idea of your performance. Pay closer attention to the broad trends than the narrow one-off situations.

5 Nonverbal Client Feedback Signals for Freelancers

A thumb's up.

  1. The client returns month after month. As mentioned, this is the best indication that they’re happy with the quality of your work.
  2. You rarely get revision requests. The best clients will hire you for your expertise and then leave the job in your hands. If you find that a client rarely asks you for revisions, that’s an excellent sign that they trust you and you’re delivering exactly what they need.
  3. They respond quickly to your emails, invoices, etc. A client that respects you will write back to an email relatively quickly, pay your invoices on time, and clearly explain and apologize for situations that have delayed their communication.
  4. You’ve retained the client as you’ve adjusted your boundaries and requirements. Over time, you’ve probably made changes to your pricing, turn-around times, revision options, etc. If the client doesn’t put up a fight or take the opportunity to bow out, it’s probably because you provide enough value to make those changes worth it.
  5. They’re flexible and understanding when you need a break. Clients who are with you for the long haul will be accommodating when you’re a day behind on a deadline or need to push a due date because you’re sick. I  even had to step back from my workload indefinitely during a particularly trying personal time and retained every single client I was prepared to lose.

Here’s Why Freelance Clients Don’t Provide Feedback

An iPad and a coffee cup on a desk.

Let me just say that it would be lovely if every freelance client — or even some freelance clients — offered feedback of any kind. It would be incredibly helpful if clients took the time to explain why they do or don’t like your work.

It’s simply not the standard. I’ve even directly asked for feedback and haven’t gotten it.

Here’s why I think that is:

Clients hire freelance writers with the expectation that they’re already professionals. Even if the freelancer is a beginner, if they’re offering services and being paid in return, the expectation is that they basically know what they’re doing.

📣 As a freelancer, your main job is to give the client what they want.

Yes, the job is technically writing or editing or whatever. But the ultimate service and value you’re delivering is to do something for the client they can’t or won’t or don’t want to do for themselves.

When you think of that as the trade-off, it’s easier to see why freelance clients won’t necessarily offer feedback. They’re not in an employer’s or guidance position, and they don’t want to be.

Dealing with imposter syndrome? You’re not alone. To learn about the business coaching options I offer, visit this page.

Exception: Some Clients Insist on Guiding the Freelancer

A mentor guiding a freelance writer.

What if you’re specifically looking for guidance from a client, not simply hoping that your clients provide a critique?

Some companies will specifically say in their job postings that the freelancer will work closely with another person or team to hone their skills.

If that’s the type of freelance job you’re after, keep an eye out for those types of positions. 

I offer one-on-one business coaching for freelance writers. To learn more, visit this page or email me at lindsaypietro@gmail.com.