A Simple Email Template That Sets Crystal Clear Expectations With Clients

Whether you're a freelancer or part of an agency, it is critical that you establish up front what you expect from your client and what they can expect from you. Ensure all the expectations of all stakeholders on a web design project are aligned with one simple email template.

Misunderstandings, confusion, inaccurate assumptions, and frustration are all symptoms of poor expectation setting and unclear communication. Whether you’re a freelancer or part of an agency, it is critical that you establish upfront what you expect from your client and what they can expect from you.

It’s inevitable that your clients will have varying levels of technical savvy. Some will be building their third or fourth website, while others will be engaging in the website building process for the very first time. This means you can’t assume that all of your clients know what to expect, how the process will work, or how to be a great client. That’s why, from roles and responsibilities to timelines and deliverables to interactions and communications, you and your client need to get on the same page as early in the relationship as possible.

Sample Expectation Setting Email

One of the easiest ways to align expectations at the start of a project is to send your client an email that sets clear expectations for everyone involved in the process. The expectation setting email is one of the first emails I send after my welcome email. It works wonders to set nervous clients at ease and reassure experienced clients of your dedication and professionalism.

Here is a sample expectations email that you can model in your freelance web design business:

SUBJECT: What you can expect from us


My goal is that our work together results in an extraordinary website and that you have an extraordinary experience along the way. I want you to enjoy the process and know that a big part of your experience is tied to clear expectations.

Here’s what you can expect during our time working together:

  • We will be responsive and timely with all of our communications.
  • We will respect you, your expertise, your time, and your money.
  • We will share our expertise and knowledge and make recommendations as appropriate.
  • We will be up front about exactly what’s included and what’s not — no surprises.
  • We will consult with you before taking any action that requires an additional investment.
  • We will answer all of your questions and support you as much as we can.
  • We will deliver a top-of-the-line end product.

And here’s what we expect of you in return:

  • You will be responsive and timely in your communications.
  • You will be committed to the project and respectful of us, our expertise, and our time.
  • You will participate in the process, engage, and answer questions to the best of your ability.
  • You will be upfront about your deadlines and needs — no surprises.
  • You will be proactive in your communication if anything changes during our work together.
  • You will be honest in your feedback, comments, ideas, and suggestions.
  • You will be nice and courteous — I think you’ll agree it isn’t fun to work with meanies.

[CLIENT NAME], we believe that communication, information, and clear expectations are critical to the success of any project and I hope this is as valuable to you as it is to us! If at any time you have questions, feel stuck, or would like help, please reach out! You can call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email us at [EMAIL ADDRESS].

Best wishes —

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Some links used on this site are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jennifer Bourn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Bourn is founding partner at Bourn Creative, a full service design and development company specializing in WordPress. With twenty years in the industry under her belt, she is an award-winning designer who consults on branding, website strategy, and content strategy. Jennifer speaks often, delivering workshops and keynote presentations, blogs about food and travel at Inspired Imperfection, co-organizes the Sacramento WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Sacramento, and writes often for other websites on freelancing, client services, blogging, marketing, websites, and branding.

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