When I started, I sometimes had difficulties refusing clients or ending collaborations even with warning signs blinking all around, telling myself that what seemed weird or worrisome would settle or that it was part of the job. With time, fortunately, I have learned to set my own boundaries to avoid, right from the beginning, to find myself in situations I won’t agree with, or to stop working with those clients as soon as my contract made it possible.
That’s why I’m sharing with you these 5 TYPES OF CLIENTS YOU SHOULD RUNAWAY FROM, for your own mental and financial wellbeing. Because yes, the consequences of those loose collaborations are always on your side…
THE CLIENT WHO NEGOCIATES YOUR RATES AGRESSIVELY
“It’s too expensive!”
“X does it for half the price!”
“But it will be good exposure!”
You will hear those at a moment or another, and although making a (small, not 50%) discount to a client who’s bringing you a regular amount of work over time is normal (but not mandatory), your work has a value that you’re supposed to have perfectly calculated before you started.
Marking yourself down too much deprecates not only your image, but the image of the branch you’re working in. Working for less will certainly bring a bit more clients in the beginning, but you’ll have to work so much to make ends meet that you’ll regret it fast, when you’ll find yourself working 70h/week for less than minimum wage.
THE CLIENT WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT
They’ve got a vague idea, they need you to concretize it, but the directions are blurry, they don’t even know about their editorial line/have not defined a trademark image for their company, they don’t have a deadline, they haven’t really thought about it but they like what you do… Run, and don’t turn back. You’re not a nanny nor a fortune teller, and the client is supposed to know why they’re coming to you. Your range of services is clear, and if they don’t know, well, you know: it’s a no.
THE CLIENT WHO NEEDS IT FOR YESTERDAY
They just contacted you and they already demand to come first before your other clients, it’s urgent, they’re very important, their company is above the rest so you see, they want the red carpet. Except that you’re already engaged with other clients who trust you, have deadlines to respect, and you need to treat everyone equally.
Sometimes, they even try the pity card, asking you to sacrifice your free time because really, they will show gratitude like you’ve never seen! By harassing you 17 times in an hour to know where you’re at. By email, on Skype, by private message on Facebook… and of course, they will find it a lot less urgent to pay you when you’re done with them!
THE CROOKED CLIENT
No negotiation possible there. If you realize it after signing your contract, it’s tensed, but get out of it as soon as you can.
No exposure, no amount of money justifies to get screwed up, drowned in stress or treated like .
If the client is shady, even if it doesn’t interfere with your job, be careful. If they’re used to complaints and going to courtrooms, if their (bad) reputation precedes them, don’t associate with that kind of client, for the sake of your own image.
THE CLIENT WHO SABOTAGES YOUR WORK
You hand over a perfectly clean and proofread article, and once published, it has nothing to do anymore with what you wrote: full of typos, sentences changed and ideas deformed, or simply a bad setup and ugly images… your eyes sting.
Who will be judged for that? You, the author, not the editor who gave a display of their lack of competence, not the client who has no clue about layout options or has a level of exigence close to zero about what’s on their website. You, whose name signs the article.
And no, once handed over and paid, you shouldn’t wash your hands of it: hello display case for your (ex) future clients…
So, you got it, to be a freelancer is learning to have flair to flush out the weirdos and the bad debtors, to have a strong ethic (and hold on to it), and learning to say no. If your guts tell you not to do it, listen to it!
WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST?