Clients are the lifeblood of every freelance business.
Even though they drive us crazy, we love them just the same 🙂
But there are some clients that just aren’t worth it, no matter how much money they seem to have. Read on to find out how to spot a bad client before you get involved.
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1. They badmouth their previous freelancers.
We all know there are some really unprofessional people out there. And occasionally you’ll come across a new client who needs to vent about their experience.
But when every word out of your client’s mouth is an insult related to their previous freelancers, they’ll eventually do the same thing to you.
2. They don’t keep in touch.
Clients like this tend to disappear when it comes time to pay the bill. Yes, they may be good people, and yes, they may just be busy, but working this way will wreck your schedule and keep you from focusing on clients who value your time.
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3. They keep asking for quotes.
This could signal one of two things:
- they can’t afford you
- the client doesn’t know what they want
If a client can’t afford you, keep in touch with them via email but don’t spend a lot of time trying to sell to them. When their business gets to the point that they are ready to pay your rates, they will get in touch.
People who don’t know what they want is a bad case of scope creep waiting to happen. Run, don’t walk, the other direction.
4. They don’t want to sign a contract.
In the past, I never sent a contract to a client for work under a certain dollar amount. After losing hundreds of dollars worth of work to various clients who skipped out on paying, I learned my lesson.
Don’t let it happen to you. No contract, no work. Period.
5. They won’t allow you to talk to previous contractors.
If your client will tell you who they currently use or have used in the past, contact that person for a reference. Try to do it without the client’s knowledge to avoid any coaching beforehand.
6. They micromanage.
As you work they point over your left shoulder and command you to move some element somewhere else. Then they tell you to move it back. Then they start nitpicking at another element of the design.
Or they say they love your work, and then 2 weeks later send over an email full of changes longer than Santa’s naughty list.
Either way, your calendar is wrecked because this client is a time vampire.
Some freelancers who are much more patient than I actually charge more for clients that need a little extra handholding. You can do that, but make sure it’s built into your contract.
Wrapping It Up
In a perfect world, clients would pay upfront. There would be no price haggling. No changes to your design. No silly questions about why they need to sign a contract.
Wouldn’t that be awesome?
But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. And while no client will be perfect, hopefully we’ve equipped you with the knowledge you need to know who to avoid before they derail your business.
Do you have some tips about spotting bad clients? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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