There are many reasons why a freelancer would want or need to announce a life change to their clients. Everyone experiences events that consume their time, energy or money. Sometimes these events are expected while others are surprises.
Being transparent about your life and business can build trust with your clients. But how do you walk the fine line between being open and oversharing?
Do you have to announce life changes to your clients?
No, you do not have to announce a life change to your clients. What you choose to announce is a matter of personal preference.
There are certain life changes that you may want to keep to yourself, such as your car breaking down or a change in your relationship status because those things won’t affect your work.
However, something large, such as the death of a family member, birth of a new child, or chronic illness may need to be discussed.
How do you know what to tell clients?
My rule of thumb: If the life change will potentially affect your work, responsiveness, or reputation then you should announce it. If not, then it depends on your comfort level with the client.
Announcing a life change doesn’t have to be formal. It can be as easy as a short email to a client letting them know that you won’t be as responsive as usual for a few days because you’re dealing with a personal issue. Whether you go into detail about that issue is up to you.
Keep in mind – you don’t want your work to slip and have a client complain or question your work ethic and then explain what’s going on in your life. At that point, it sounds like an excuse and not a valid reason.
How to make the conversation easier
It can be very uncomfortable to tell a client something personal. One way to make it easier is to develop a rapport with your clients from the beginning of your relationship.
Share tidbits about yourself and ask them about themselves. Some clients will appreciate this and others won’t be as open to it.
One way I build a relationship with my clients is through friendly conversation. In my emails and on phone calls, I like to include little pieces of information about my weekend, a great movie I’ve recently seen, a helpful book or article I’ve read, or a funny story about my kids. I ask the client similar questions about their day-to-day lives. If they don’t respond positively or ignore the personal tidbits altogether, then I minimize them or cut them out of future communication.
Life changes I’ve announced to clients
Since I started my business in 2014, I’ve had quite a few life changes occur. I tend to walk the line between sharing personal information and being a more private person.
Here are some personal things I’ve shared with my clients:
- My miscarriage
- Having bronchitis
- My pregnancy
Most of these situations were only shared with the one or two clients who I had everyday contact with. I knew that they would realize something was going on if I wasn’t as available as I normally am for a few days.
I probably didn’t need to share all of these events with my clients – my miscarriage, for example, but since I wrote about it here, I was comfortable sharing it. I haven’t regretted any of the life changes that I’ve shared with clients because we had open communication and solid relationships.
It’s up to you how much you share
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much you want to share about your life with your clients. I’ve had clients who told me their life stories – and made those stories integral parts of their branding – and clients that offered no information about their personal lives. And I’ve done the same! Some clients know me on a personal level while others don’t. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it; it completely depends on your comfort level.