Helping freelancers write better client emails
I made Unfuck My Email to help freelancers save them time and create better client relationships.
A few months ago, a friend asked me to help her draft an email she was nervous about writing to her client. She wanted to sound human… but also professional… and also get a quick response. We talked it over, and I used one of my many email templates as a base for writing the email.
Since most of my writing focuses on communication and collaboration, most of the emails or comments on my articles include other freelancers asking me for ideas on talking with clients about scope creep, contracts, payment, and missed deadlines.
People would always start off with, “I don’t know how to ask for X,” or “I don’t know how to say Y.”
So, I decided to create Unfuck My Email. This is for freelancers who love their work but struggle with the whole “talking to the client” part. It gives them a quick and easy template they can use for a great professional, actionable, and human email.
Freelancers are losing clients because they’re afraid of emailing and being direct.
I wanted to solve this by giving them a supplement to their business and creating a site that helps freelancers write emails to their clients.
Idea Validation & Research
I had an idea that freelancers would really like and use something like this. But, as with all products, I first needed to see if this was something that freelancers would actually use.
I started by asking a small group of freelancers who had been freelancing between 1 – 3 years, three main questions:
- Do you struggle with writing emails to your clients?
- What’s the biggest problem you have when writing emails to your clients?
- Would you use a service that wrote these emails for you?
I got answers like these:
- “I never know the ‘right’ thing to say to my clients, and I’m afraid of making the lose confidence in me.”
- “Sometimes I can’t get past the blank email screen. I get nervous and just give up.”
- “I’d love if there was a way to get quick, friendly emails so that I didn’t have to start each one from scratch.”
These conversations gave me the basis for following through with this idea and moving into the design and development stage.
After I validated my idea, I started working through the high level components of the site. It was important for me to work fast and just start iterating.
It’s important to prototype as quickly as possible, so I gave myself some design guidelines to follow as I created the design.
The user flow for the site was very simple, since the site had only one main goal, which was getting people to copy a completed template.
The design requirements for the site reflected what I heard from my potential users. They wanted to get in and get off the site as quickly as possible and they wanted something simple. In addition, I wanted to make sure the site was fun to use. I knew that when freelancers were visiting the site they would be coming to it already frustrated, after reading an email that they didn’t know how to respond to.
Taking all that into account, that meant the site needed to:
- Have a minimalist design
- Be action oriented
- Funny and fun to use
- Copy focused
To start, I went through a few different options for a simple and minimal color scheme:
And I also narrowed down my options of typography, choosing type that was bold and made a statement. I eventually settling on Work Sans, highlighted below:
A site that generated email templates users could copy and paste into their email.
Since the design was simple and there weren’t too many pages, I quickly put together a Sketch wireframe.
Based on my design guidelines, my initial wireframe turned out like this:
But after looking at it for a couple days, I decided it wasn’t clean enough. I wanted it to be more minimal and bold.
So I scrapped it and instead used fewer colors with very bold text. I made sure there were no images to emphasize the fact that this site was all about copy.
And this was the final result:
I did all this within a few days, since I really wanted to get started on making it live.
The last thing I had to do was put it in InVision so I could see how users would interact with it:
RESULTS & REFLECTION
It’s a helpful product with area for improvement
I started with 4 templates and quietly showed it to friends. Then I put up another 4 templates and very informally asked people to go through the site and send me their thoughts.
- I added a log in to the site a couple weeks after I first went live, and soon realized that this wasn’t going to work very well because the log in didn’t work for mobile. Plus, users were resistant to logging in without more information upfront.
- I started tracking metrics but realized that I was tracking the wrong metrics to be able to see if templates were really being copy/pasted.
- In my initial talks with users, I made an assumption that they’d be on desktop, but in practice, people were accessing the site from their phones, which meant that I needed to make the site much more mobile friendly.
- Add different event handlers for Google Analytics for more accurate conversion feedback
- Remove log in
- Make more mobile friendly
Metrics and Testimonials
So far, I’ve received really positive feedback on the site and people are using it. I’ve found that my demographic, as I originally expected, is mostly female. As I get a larger audience though, I do expect to see more of a gender balance because I think the demographic will mostly be experiential rather than gender based.
— Kate Travers (@kttravers) October 25, 2016
— Ashley Doyal (@ashley_doyal) October 28, 2016