by sonja thorsvik

New Client Onboarding Done Right

You’ve done it! You’ve landed a new project or are in the process of onboarding a new client. First off, congratulations! There’s nothing more exciting than finding new people and businesses to work with that reflect your ambitions, is there? 

But, after the discovery calls have been had, the contracts have been signed (you do have a contract, right?), the I’s have been dotted, and the T’s have been crossed—your work has just started. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my years in this business, it’s that clear expectations are key to a successful client relationship—for the both of you.

From understanding the full scope of your project and laying out clear communication techniques to clarifying your unique value proposition and ensuring that your client can use the collaboration software that you may use, it’s all about building a client experience that shows you care. 

Whether you build out a welcome packet or onboard your client via Zoom, these are the 5 things that need to be instantly out in the open to set up your working relationship for success with new clients.

1. What Exactly You + Your Business Do

How many of us have had the conversations with everyone from our friends and family members to our clients about the work we actually do? I’d venture to guess that most of us—if not all of us—have had to think hard about how exactly to describe our jobs. It’s simply the nature of entrepreneurship (especially in the online space), and that’s not a bad thing. However, if there’s anyone that needs to know exactly what it is you do, AND what you don’t do, it’s your client. Plus, I have a little secret for you: all of that starts with you and your own understanding of your value proposition

When your client signs their paperwork and starts to work with you, they need to be able to articulate what it is that you do as well as you do. Otherwise, how would they know why they needed to hire you? But, in order for them to understand your work, you need to understand your work. 

  • Include a one-line summary of your work in every piece of communication you send out, whether that’s on your website or in your email signature. Example: I’m a brand strategist who works with creative entrepreneurs to build and scale.
  • Understand exactly why your client hired you: Are you here to fix a problem? Are you here to help with organization? Are you here to strategize communication? 
  • Be very clear on your target audience and client base from the beginning, so that you’re working with people who reflect your goals and those of your brand.

2. The Full Scope Of Your Work Together, Including Its Limitations

Most of us have probably been in a situation before where our client expects things out of us that we never agreed to. While it can be frustrating, it really only happens when the true scope of the work wasn’t made clear from the beginning—and that ultimately lands on you. Since they’re the ones paying you, it may seem a little scary to lay down some clear expectations… but it’s necessary for an effective partnership.

  • Include a line-by-line description of the project, your deliverables, and your individual responsibilities—as well as the responsibilities of your client—in your contract.
  • Build out a scope document for your client to have that goes into deeper detail on each of your responsibilities and deliverables, and refer back to it when needed. Example: You’re writing website copy for a client who keeps giving you design guidance. You can refer them back to your scope document to gently remind them that you’re only in charge of the words and the copy.
  • Lay out payment guidelines, schedules, and methods in advance. This gives your client a chance to raise any questions before your project has started.
Social Squares

3. Guidelines For Communication And Collaboration

I’ve definitely had some major communication issues with clients of mine—for example, them expecting a response on a WhatsApp message at 9 pm on a Friday—and it probably goes without saying that you have, too. However, just like with everything else, communication missteps from my clients have typically come because I wasn’t clear about preferred communication methods from the get-go. 

Tell your client your office hours (and, if you don’t have any, make some up!) along with your preferred method of communication. Whether it’s email, Slack, weekly meetings, or Google Hangouts, pass every piece of specific info along.

I’d recommend also letting them know of your typical turnaround time for questions, too! After all, it’s simply not reasonable for your client to expect you to respond at all hours of the day and night. But it’s up to you to lay down that boundary.

4. How-To’s For Anything They May Run Across

Nothing is more frustrating to a new client than when they’re expected to use software or a communication management platform that they don’t understand. Often, they hired you to make their lives easier, right? If you’re asking your client to use something specific in order to work with you—whether that’s a CRM, Google Docs, or a preferred payment program—send them FAQ’s, directions, and even videos to make their lives easier. 

Side note: If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine—but that also means that you should be at your client’s mercy and use *their* preferred payment platforms, CRMs, and document sharers. What would you rather do?

5. That You Care About Their Experience!

Most importantly, your client should never feel like they’re simply a paycheck for you. It should always be a huge priority to make sure that you’re providing an excellent client experience from the ground up, regardless of how much initial set-up time it takes.

By taking some time early on in your business to set up workflows and processes that show your client your attention to detail and your expectations, you’re instantly creating an experience that people will flock to.

Can I just say? I’m so proud of you! If you made it this far, that probably means that you’re in the process of bringing on new clients—and that’s awesome. Take these 5 tips to heart, and I promise that you’ll be on your way to building a business with an incredible reputation and the paychecks to boot.




I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

foUNDER of gigging for gold
i like my coffee black

Obsessed With Increasing Your Odds of success