Writer’s Tips: How to Spot a Bad Client Before It’s Too Late

I’ve been freelancing for a long time, and I’ve had my share of awful clients. While most are passionate about what they do and confident about what I can bring to their business, there are a few rotten eggs.

Most of the time it’s obvious when a bad client comes along, but freelancers who are eager to work and create a portfolio often ignore the warning signs.

To make things a little easier, here are 4 warning signs to look out for.

  1. “I Have Lots of Work, But Here’s a Little to Start With.”

If a client comes to you with the promise of lots of work only to give you 1 or 2 articles, to begin with, chances are your experience with them isn’t going to be great. If the client claims to need 40 articles in the next 2 weeks and you’ve already negotiated your rates, why do they need just 1 to start with?

  1. “I’m More Concerned About Your Rates Than Your Results.”

If you’ve been going back and forth via email and still haven’t managed to agree on a price, or if the client spends hours with you on Skype just talking money, you should see a giant red flag. Based on my experience and those of fellow freelancers, I’ve realized the best clients aren’t concerned with fees, they care about quality.

  1. “But Other Writers Charge Less.”

If a client compares your work or rates to other writers, move on. How familiar does this conversation sound:

Client: what do you charge?

Freelancer: $50 for 1,000 words,

Client: Can we get that down to $20?

Freelancer: that’s my rate for this piece considering the research and format required and I always aim to get my clients results.

Client: I know other writers who can do this for much less. I just can’t work with you for $50.

The client then spends the next hour discussing your rates with no mention about the project or your abilities.

This client has little regard for your dedication and is taking up too much of your precious time trying to negotiate your rates when you could be working for someone more appreciative.

  1. “Anyone Can Write.”

When a client tells you you’re charging too much for something anyone can do, run! As a writer, your greatest asset is your feeling – about your worth, your abilities and how much value you can offer.

How a client treats you often depends on how much value they think they can get from you. If they think anyone can do it, why isn’t the client doing it himself?

Drop Those Bad Clients Right Now!

Some freelancers feel that getting a client to contact you is the most difficult part of generating business and as a result, you should retain every single client. But is it really worth it?

I think getting clients to contact you is the easy part; ensuring they’re a great match is much more challenging and something that could affect you negatively if proper precautions aren’t taken.

If any of your potential clients have the above traits, drop them now.

Have you been able to spot a bad client before getting involved in a project? How did you deal with them?

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