Whether you’re running you’re own company or building your own independent freelance career, you will run into some bad clients. This is true even if you’re working a standard 9-5 with any job that involves supporting customers. However, when you are in charge of who you work for, I find it best to be selective about your clients rather than accepting each and every proposal sent your direction. If you are getting all kinds of bad signals from a client, then maybe it’s best to look elsewhere for your next paycheck. In this article I’ll discuss the telltale signs that you are dealing with a bad client.
Comes to You with a Half-Baked Product or Service
People try to develop all kinds of ways to make money in the world. Some of them are really good and go on to be successful while most of them fall flat on their ass. What if the product your client wants you to work is so bad that he can’t even come close to selling you on its value let alone random passerbys? Your service may be to improve or market a product that the client puts in your work box but is working with just anything acceptable? If you get heavily invested in working on a product that you know is bad from the get go and you know you’re just putting icing on a pile of poo, then are you really going to be satisfied having worked on it?
Doesn’t Have a Clue What He Is Looking For
If your client is extremely vague about what they want, then they might just be asking you to make a miracle happen with no direction. It could turn out fine if the client likes it in the end, but what if half way down the road they decide that they want something completely different than where you were going. You could end up suffering a lot of frustration. A worthy business skill to pick up is the ability to communicate project needs with a client. If you can dig those wants out of the client then great, but if you can’t then you may end up with a headache half way through the project. Just remember that many honest people are not the best communicators in the world even if their intentions are pure.
Shady Behavior or Requests
This happens a lot on freelancer for hire websites. You get a message from a user who wants to pay you to do very dishonest things. One of the most prominent examples would be product reviews. I had one good experience from an honest company who wanted me to review their product after actually testing it. I decided to offer product reviews as a freelance service for a few days afterwards and every single request following that wanted lies about products without ever testing it. If you’re dealing with a business that is so blatantly dishonest to it’s consumers, then how long will it be until that same company screws you over too? On top of that, is it worth tossing your integrity out the window to make a few extra dollars?
Dangerous Modus Operandi
If you watch television then you know people do some ridiculously stupid things. Earlier today, I was messaged from a guy who was looking for anybody willing to build out articles and write content to flesh out his website. He was sending around this little word document containing his admin username and password to his new website to every prospective freelancer. Coming from an IT background, this is one of the most hilariously stupid moves I’ve ever seen anyone make. Until he changes his password, literally anyone who he requested quotes from can log in and destroy work or steal information. Do you really want to work with a client who plays with fire around gasoline? Just think of all the potential damage that could occur and affect you and your business as well.
Clients Who Value Price Far above Quality
The lower your prices sink to the bottom of the barrel, the scummier the clients tend to get as well. Clients who don’t care care about the quality of the product that they are presenting to the customers, generally don’t give a damn about their business to business relationships as well. One way you can identify these kinds of people right off the bat is that they send the same canned quote request message to a hundred different people wanting to know nothing more than your prices. If someone isn’t willing to spend real money on your services then how much do you really think they’ll be willing to work with you to make the project a good experience on both sides. There is something to be said about the value of offering competitive prices but go too far and you’re not only screwing your bottom line but also your own happiness as well.
Giving some credit to your gut is not a terrible idea when it comes to business. Your subconscious often knows when you’re getting screwed or entering into dangerous territory. One of the best advantages of working for yourself is that you have control over who you choose as clients. Remember that no one is perfect and that some clients might just be poor communicators. As you learn more about identifying good clients from bad ones, you’ll be able to save yourself more headaches in the long run. Just because someone requests that you do something doesn’t mean that you have to do it, even if they offer to pay you. Keep in mind that if you turn down everyone, you’ll quickly have a short supply of business as well though. Much of business is a cost-benefit analysis – How many headaches are you willing to suffer through to make money?