The freelancing game comes with a lot of perks, from freedom over your time to not having to deal with office politics and toxic workmates. But it comes with its downsides as well, foremost of which is having to deal with difficult clients.
Read on to know how to spot toxic clients so you can avoid the stress they often bring.
They want 24/7 responsiveness
Freelance writing projects are not life and death situations. You don’t need to be available 24/7. However, some clients choose to ignore this reality and push boundaries, expecting replies and responses way beyond the conventional office hours. Unless they are paying you on retainer to be available when they need you, clients who impose impossible expectations on availability are often not worth the money they pay.
They like to haggle
Clients who try to undercut or underpay, especially by threatening to go with other freelancers who charge cheaper rates, are not the clients you want to keep on your list. The same is true for those who ask for discounts in return for future work. If you know that you are charging for the quality of work you produce, and this is easily seen in your portfolio, clients should have no problem paying for that level of quality. Clients who prefer to lowball freelancers who have established track records for quality, professional work often become a drag to work with. Working with them can end up being unsustainable and unhealthy, which you need to avoid.
They ask for samples and unpaid work
Asking for samples or unpaid trial periods before they decide to “hire” you is a clear red flag. This is a very unprofessional strategy to get work for free. Professional companies often rely on a freelancer’s portfolio to decide if he or she is a good fit, eliminating the need for unpaid samples and trial periods. Offering to do unpaid samples allows clients to take advantage of your work for free, something you want to avoid if you want others to take your services seriously.
Freelance writing projects often come with the exchange of project briefs so that both parties are on the same page about what the expectations are. When clients do not provide project briefs or give one with vague details, they risk wasting time since this could lead to multiple revisions that could have been prevented if directions were clearer at the start of the project. This is a reality that many freelancers face, especially when dealing with clients who have no idea what kind of style or content they need for their business. Vagueness is often the mother of unclear outcomes and wasted time for both sides. If the client cannot provide clear instructions on what he or she wants, it might be better to take a pass.
The freelancer-client relationship is a two-way street. While most freelancers do not need a lot of handholding to produce good work, communication is still key so the project gets completed on time. If a client is here one day and unreachable the next, it can pose a problem, especially when the client becomes unavailable when payment issues are involved.
The majority of clients who work with freelancers are reliable and professional in their dealings. But just like any other industry, bad eggs are worth spotting in advance.
Don’t waste precious time, talent, and energy providing quality work in exchange for questionable client behavior. Keep these tips in mind if you want to focus your energies on clients that are worth your time and energy.