You know how it goes: you are facing a difficult situation with a client, and you aren’t quite sure how to respond to it to navigate the conversation into a meaningful direction. This is where email templates can come in handy. This article features email templates for communicating with clients, superiors, teammates and the like. You can easily customize them. They balance firmness and tact, professionalism and friendliness.
Please note, though, that these templates are subjective. They’ve been created to the best of my ability, with the help and input of dozens of designers and developers. Once you load the templates into your email program, remember to format them first, OK? Use the “Paste as plain text” command and you’ll be fine.
Here is a short overview of all templates:
- The Dreaded Price Email
- Questions About The Design Brief
- Sending The Final Plan To A New Client
- The Cost In The Final Plan Is Damned Far From Your Initial Estimate
- Scope Is Creeping But Can Be Accommodated
- You Won’t Be Able To Deliver The Design On Time
- Dealing With Late Payment
- Discussing Other Aspects Of The Website
- Justifying The Need For Extra Hours
- No Need For Extra Hours
- Declining A Project
- Stopping Work Because Of Delinquent Payment
- The Client Refuses To Sign A Contract
- Funds Needed For Materials
- Rates Are Going Up
- Request For Testimonial
- Request For Case Study
- Request For Referral
The Dreaded Price Email
First, try to defer talking about price until you have all of the details. I do this all of the time with prospective clients of mine. Tell them that you’ll send an accurate estimate once they share some thoughts on what they’re looking for. And if they budge, go ahead and send it. Be done with it.
[Subject:] Answer to your question on my rates [Client’s name], My rate varies, depending on the project and its scope. Generally, though, my rate is [$X] for [work Y], just so that you have a ballpark idea. If you send me more details about the kind of work you have in mind, I can send you a more accurate estimate. For now, though, let’s get back to where we were, regarding [matter Z], and we can discuss pricing when more information is available. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Questions About The Design Brief
Trust me, iron out any questions you have before the project starts. The client will appreciate your initiative and your willingness to approach them when help is really needed. Swallowing a bit of pride and asking is always better than wallowing in confusion and causing problems down the road.
[Subject:] Some questions about the design brief [Client’s name], I appreciate your quick provision of the design brief. It’s really allowed me to get a good idea of where you want this project to go. I’m excited to start working on the project! I have just a few questions to clear up before we go full steam ahead.
If you could get back to me with your input by [date and/or time], that’d be great. If you also have things you’d like to discuss, please reach out. It’s always best that we’re on the same page. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [question X]
- [question Y]
- [question Z]
Sending The Final Plan To A New Client
To give a new client a good impression of you from the outset, make it clear that doing a professional quality work and work ethic is important to you. Send out this email along with the project plan.
[Subject:] Would love your input. Project plan attached. [Client’s name], To start, thanks for your vote of trust. I’ll be working hard to make sure you love your decision to work with me — that’s a promise. I’ve attached the final project plan here, for your input. Below are its main points, in case you don’t have time right away to read the full plan.
If you could send me your comments by [date and/or time], I’d appreciate it. Should you have things you’d like to discuss, please feel free to reach out. If a meeting is needed, I’m OK with that as well. Thanks again for your business, and I look forward to getting to the work! Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- The total estimated cost is [$X].
- The estimated time is [Y].
- [other important point]
- [other important point]
The Cost In The Final Plan Is Damned Far From Your Initial Estimate
You’ll almost always have to submit an initial estimate to the client. If all goes well, that estimate will be reflected in the final plan, without much change. But for those times when a drastic departure is needed, take heart.
[Subject:] Final project plan, based on recent info [Client’s name], Two things here. First, thanks for providing the full details on the project you’d like us to work on together. I’ve prepared the project plan based on the information you’ve given. The plan is attached here, for your evaluation. Secondly, I’d like to inform you of the revised estimate, reflected in the plan. Very briefly, the project will now take [time X], at a cost of [$Y]. I’m aware this is far from the previous estimates I talked about with you. I’ve given these figures a lot of thought, and I believe they’re fair, considering the work to be done on both of our ends. To close, please send me your feedback on the plan by [date and/or time]. Then, we can work out an arrangement that’s a win for both of us. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Scope Is Creeping But Can Be Accommodated
I’ve yet to see a large project that doesn’t have scope creep, one way or another. Still, it’s important to manage the creep, quickly and proactively. Otherwise, the project will bloat, bringing a completely new set of problems.
[Subject:] A quick note on your new requirements [Client’s name], Thanks for providing input on the project — I appreciate your direction! Regarding the changes we talked about, I’m happy to tell you that they can be accommodated. But because they aren’t a part of our initial agreement, they’ve caused shifts in the plan for this project. That revised plan is attached, showing the new timelines and associated costs. I’d appreciate feedback regarding the attachment by [date and/or time], so that the design work can get back to its usual speed. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
You Won’t Be Able To Deliver The Design On Time
First things first, problems like this happen sooner or later. What’s important is that you apologize, not try to shirk responsibility, and fix the situation fast. If you do these three actions, you’ll be fine most of the time.
[Subject:] Important notice, and an apology [Client’s name], I’m sure this isn’t the type of email you expected to get from me. Still, I’d like to deal with the facts as they are and get a solution in place, ASAP. So, here goes. I’m sorry, but the design won’t be delivered on time. There are a couple reasons for this, but rest assured, I take full responsibility.
To get the project back on track, I’ve done [action X], [action Y] and [action Z]. I’m also taking steps to ensure that we don’t go through this headache again. Anyway, if you’d like to discuss the effects of this issue, feel free to reach out. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [reason A]
- [reason B]
- [reason C]
Dealing With Late Payment
Thankfully, I’ve not had to send these emails often, and usually my clients have only forgotten to deal with an invoice out of busyness. But if you’re in the unfortunate position of having to collect a very late payment, read on!
[Subject:] Your payment for [work X] [Client’s name], I recently sent you an invoice dated [date], for [services rendered]. The total cost reflected in the invoice is [$X]. While I’ve worked up to standard and delivered on time, the compensation still hasn’t arrived. According to our agreement, the payment terms are below. [Insert relevant details here, preferably in bold for emphasis.] According to these terms, the payment ball is clearly in your court. If you’re going through difficulties, please let me know, and we’ll work to reach a solution together. Otherwise, I’ll be expecting your payment by [date X], and will be contacting you on [date Y] if any issues still remain. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Discussing Other Aspects Of The Website
Design is rarely the only thing a client has to consider. As the one with the knowledge, you would do well to bring related aspects of website performance and usability to the client’s attention. As a result, you might earn not only their respect, but perhaps even higher compensation.
[Subject:] Wanted to bring these to your attention [Client’s name], As you may know, design isn’t the only thing that matters on your website. So, I feel it’s my responsibility to bring your attention to related issues that you may need to consider.
The factors above will all have an impact on your website and its users. They’re important because of [reason X, reason Y and reason Z]. I’m bringing these things to your attention now so that we can act on them promptly. If you’d like to talk about what I’ve shared here, please let me know! Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [first consideration (such as website performance)]
- [second consideration (such as usability or functionality)]
- [yet another consideration]
Justifying The Need For Extra Hours
As mentioned, problems and changes always come up, whatever the project. Here is yet another template for such instances, this one an email to soften the client’s heart on the subject of extra hours.
[Subject:] Important project update [Client’s name], I just wanted to tell you about some important changes to the project. From my most recent check of what still needs to get done, I’ve come to the realization that extra hours are needed, for these reasons:
I know this is a surprise, and I would have liked to have avoided this. But my responsibility is to keep you in the loop, especially about any changes such as these. If you’d like to discuss the new hours, please do reach out. Or we can meet at [date and/or time]. If then doesn’t work, let me know when is most convenient for you. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [first reason and why it matters]
- [second reason and why it matters]
- [third reason and so on]
No Need For Extra Hours
On rare occasions you will tell the client that you need extra time, only to realize later that in fact you don’t. Be honest and promptly share the good news with them.
[Subject:] Some good news for you [Client’s name], I recently sent you a [revised plan, email, etc.], indicating the need for [X] extra hours. The reasons for those hours were [A, B and C]. On a happier note, I’d like to share with you that those hours are no longer needed. They’ll no longer be billed, and the invoice will reflect that. To be clear, the total project cost is now [$Y]. Everything else remains as is. If you’d like formal documentation to indicate this change, please let me know and I’ll prepare it. Thank you, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Declining A Project
Oh, it’s a happy day when you have too many projects to accept a new one. If it ever does happen, a polite decline will stand as proof of your professionalism and will leave a good impression on the inquirer, who may need you in future.
[Subject:] Sorry I cannot take on your project [Client’s name], Thanks for your [inquiry or offer to hire me]. Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate right now. I won’t be able to take you up on your offer. I wouldn’t want to accept and then commit at anything less than 100%. For now, I’d like to focus on current projects, but I expect to have a free period open by [date X]. Would this work for you? Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Stopping Work Because Of Delinquent Payment
All projects come with a payment risk. You could ask for a deposit up front to mitigate the risk, but sometimes you have to stop work altogether and accept the reality. Still, tell your client so that they’re clear that you haven’t shirked any responsibilities of your own.
[Subject:] Will have to stop work until dues are paid [Client’s name], This is a situation I would have preferred to avoid, but we both have to deal with the facts as they are. Due to delinquent payment, work on the project will have to stop, according to the terms of our agreement. For the sake of our relationship, I’ll just assume that the invoice fell through the cracks. I’m sending a copy later today, and look forward to your payment by [date X]. I’ll also send a reminder by [date Y] if the issue remains. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
The Client Refuses To Sign A Contract
Contracts, whether written in legalese or plain language, protect you. For this reason, a client’s refusal to sign one should throw up a red flag, and you should make it clear that you won’t work without the right measures in place.
[Subject:] Clarification [Client’s name], This is just a quick note about the contract I presented to you. You’ve stated that it’s unnecessary, but I really can’t overemphasize that it is necessary. A contract clarifies our shared responsibilities and is an important safeguard for both of us. It’s an assurance that we’ll both comply with what’s expected of us, within the bounds of our professional relationship. For these reasons, I really would never work without one. Not only is a contract standard practice, but it’s also demanded by common business sensibilities. I hope you’ll understand. Should you wish to discontinue work because of the contract requirement, please inform me. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Funds Needed For Materials
Some designs require third-party resources, such as stock photography or original artwork. Most contracts have a clause that the client will pay for these materials, but reminding the client of as much via email is always prudent.
[Subject:] Materials needed for the design [Client’s name], I’m sending you this as a record of my request for materials. Specifically, the design requires the following items:
These materials will be used for [insert intended use]. The total price for such materials is [$X], which breaks down as [$Y] for the first item, and [$Z] for the second item. According to our agreement, the funds for such materials will come from you. Please reply with your approval, and send the payment over by [date X]. Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [first item (such as a stock photograph, with link)]
- [second item (such as artwork, with link)]
Rates Are Going Up
Regularly increasing your rates is a normal part of business. This protects your margins and offsets inflation and higher taxes. Still, higher rates could mean disgruntled clients, so soften them to the idea early on.
[Subject:] I’ll be raising my rates [Client’s name], Because your business is extremely important to me, I’d like to personally explain the reasons for my raised rates.
As you’re aware, increases like these are an unavoidable part of business. That being said, I believe the new rate reflects the accompanying increase in my skills. For example, I’ve recently [insert latest big achievement]. If you have questions or clarifications, please let me know. I’d be happy to talk through any concerns you may have. Thanks for your time, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [reason X]
- [reason Y]
- [reason Z]
Request For Testimonial
Testimonials are some of the most powerful marketing materials out there. The best can allay apprehensions, reinforce credibility and solidify your reputation. So, actively gather them when the opportunities present themselves. Don’t let your good work go unnoticed!
[Subject:] Can I get your approval for this quote? [Client’s name], Hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time. I’m sure you know how important testimonials are for securing new clients. And because I want to make things super-easy for you, I’ve prepared a template for you. You’re free to edit it as you like, of course. [Insert pre-written testimonial.] If this testimonial is OK, can I get your approval to feature it on my website? Also, if you could send a photo by [date and/or time], I’d really appreciate it. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Request For Case Study
In addition to testimonials or social networking, case studies are another form of marketing. If you put effort into making great case studies, you’ll greatly reduce apprehensions about your services on the part of potential clients.
[Subject:] Can I feature you as a case study on my website? [Client’s name], The subject line pretty much says everything, but I’d like to ask again. Can I feature you as a case study? I think our project had a lot of highlights, and I’m eager to get the word out about our work together. Specifically, I plan to dig into these main aspects:
If being featured is OK with you, can we chat over coffee on [date and/or time]? Or if that doesn’t work, I’m free on [date X]. I look forward to meeting you! Thanks, [Your name] [contact details, website]
- [first main aspect to highlight in case study]
- [second main aspect to highlight]
- [third aspect and so on]
Request For Referral
If you do good work, referrals will come automatically. But it never hurts to be proactive and ask whether your clients know people whom you could help. At least you’ll get the benefit of their introduction, which will alleviate any anxiety on the part of the prospective client.
[Subject:] Know any people I could help? [Client’s name], As you probably know, referrals are an important source of customers. So, I’d like to check in and ask: do you know people I could help with my skills? If you do, I’ve written an introductory email that you can send them. Introductory email: Hi, [friend’s name]. I’m introducing you to [your name]. [He/she] is the designer who did my website, and [he/she] is great: solid design skills, good work ethic and very responsive. I think you’d get some benefit from getting in touch with [him/her]. Contact details: [your email address, phone number, website]. Thanks for your help with this, [client name]. Regards, [Your name] [contact details, website]
Download The Templates For Free
Thanks to the dozens of designers who have provided input and help. Also, a big debt of gratitude to the editors of Smashing Magazine for providing the platform to share this with the world.
Download the Set for Free
This set of templates is completely free to use for commercial or personal use. Go ahead and share this with anyone whom you think it’ll help. But please don’t sell it or claim it as your own. Putting this together was hard work!
- Download the complete set (in DOCX, ODT, PDF and TXT formats).
(Credits of image on front page: Sarah Joy)
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