Regardless of your freelancing experience, you’re bound to run into your share of bad clients. Even if you don’t, I bet you’ve had people sending you request for quotes that scream trouble. Yet, against your better judgement you find yourself in talks with clients who you’re not sure about.
You’re not alone. Most freelancers have the same problem. Whether that’s because of our inability to let an opportunity go without exploring it or just curiosity, here’s a simple idea that’s worth repeating a few times a week:
Not all clients are worth working for.
When you’re considering taking on a new client, keep your eyes, ears and gut tuned for the following warning signs.
1. Is vague about his needs
If your client is not sure what they want, there’s no way you’ll ever be sure either. Take me, I’m a great writer. However, I make a horrible client to freelance designers.
I’m the client they were warned about.
Even though I had a clear picture of what I wanted when I started looking for a designer, I kept changing my mind as the whole process moved forward.
My solution was to tell the designer up front about my unfortunate tendency to not know what I wanted. Luckily I’m friends with the designer I hired and she asked me some really hard questions when I g0t too fussy. Occasionally she also told me to zip it so she can do her job.
Your prospective client won’t give you that liberty. He’ll probably expect you to know what he wants even though he hasn’t clearly told what that is.
2. Had a lot of problems with previous freelancers
Consider it a red flag if your client has a history of going through a lot of freelancers and has mentioned having problems with them.
Granted, it’s entirely possible that they hired the wrong people but can one choose the wrong person every time?
Listen to your gut and watch out for how the prospect deals with you. Do they treat you professionally? The answer to this question will never lead you astray.
3. Is too focused on the price
Does the prospect mention the price too often? Or emphasize that they’re looking for an affordable freelancer?
An good client is one who is willing to pay for the services he’s buying. It doesn’t have to mean that they pay through the nose but it doesn’t mean that get those services dirt cheap either.
Avoid cheap client like the plague. Especially if you’re not sure of your own rates and like it to decide on a client by client basis.
4. Thinks he can do a better job
It all boils down to respect. If your prospective client keeps mentioning that it’s an easy job and he could do it himself or get his intern/niece/secretary to do it, you might want to say bye-bye to this prospect.
A client who doesn’t give your expertise due credit is going to be a nightmare to work with.
Ever worked with a nightmare client or let go a project because the client seemed like trouble? How did you handle the situations?