After you’ve been freelancing as long as I have, you start to get a feel for the types of clients that are going to be great — and potentially problematic.
The next time you screen a freelance client, make sure you pay attention to what they say and how they interact with you. If you recognize any of the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to politely decline:
1. They Insist on a Service You Don’t Provide
I’ve experimented over the years with different side projects and offerings. However, most of the time I just stick to providing writing services. I normally do a couple social media posts as part of the deal, but social media promotion isn’t my thing. I also try to avoid placing my own writing.
When a freelance client insists that I provide the content plus find a place to put it, I head the other way. There’s nothing wrong with specializing in finding content placements. However, if it’s not part of your core business model, and it sucks too much time and effort away from what makes you money, don’t bend over backward for one client.
Think seriously about the services you provide. If a potential client is insisting that you add something to your package, and you aren’t comfortable providing the service, it’s time to head the other way.
2. They Aren’t Committing to You
Have you ever had that freelance client that doesn’t seem to be ready to commit? They keep putting off getting you the contract or promise that payment will come once other loose ends are tied up.
I’ve had situations where a potential client insists that they are excited to work with me. And then, after following up, the situation goes nowhere. After about two or three follow-ups, it’s probably a sign that you need to move on.
Any client that is having trouble committing and following up is probably going to be difficult to deal with in the long run. Can you imagine chasing them down for payment every month when they can’t answer a simple email question or get your contract signed?
Instead, look for clients that answer your questions quickly and are ready to get something down in writing in an efficient manner.
3. You Have a Bad Feeling
Sometimes, there’s no substitute for a bad feeling when you’re vetting a potential freelance client. There are times when you might think something is too good to be true, or that you might think someone is acting a little shady.
Any time you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right, it might be time to walk away. There will always be frustrations with freelancing. Not every client is perfect. And you might find out that someone you thought was perfect really isn’t.
However, if you can avoid getting caught later, you’ll be in better shape in the long run. Anytime you feel worried, ahead of time, heed that feeling. It’s better to turn down a client now instead of wishing you had later. After putting in a lot of work.