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Last Updated on 13 October 2020 by Gertrude

Warning signs of a bad freelance client

There are bad freelance clients as there are freelancers.

As a freelancer, it’s not easy to spot a bad freelance client because your aim is to make money.

Some clients exhaust the living daylights out of you, from asking for samples which they won’t pay for and asking for revisions severally. S

Some clients are too demanding for freelancers – they never get satisfied and some don’t know what they want.

These are the worst kinds of freelance clients to avoid.

They’ll come to you with all these ideas and no matter what you do, they’ll never find your work appealing.

They’ll say how annoying and irritating it was to work with you. Yet, they didn’t know what they truly wanted.

They make freelancers appear as an animal whose work online is to take clients money without working for it. 


10 Warning Signs of a Bad Freelance Client and How to Fix Them (thequiettypeblog.com)

How and When to Fire a Freelance Client in Kenya

Toxic Freelance Clients: How to Deal With Blood-Draining Freelance Clients in Kenya

1. Bad communicators/non-responsive 

Freelance Clients who don’t communicate

If you meet a client who is a bad communicator, they post the job ad set the date for an interview and after confirming your employment status, the only time they contact you is a month later.

If you try to reach them via all the mediums you agreed on, the client doesn’t talk. He doesn’t respond, he’s unreachable.

A month and a half later, he comes back no apologies and gets shocked you never submitted the job as agreed – which you did but he claims he never received it.

He went under the bus. It’s time to fire this client and move on with your life.

The worst part, he’ll blame you and never apologise. During the freelance interview, ask your client how often you two will get in touch.

Sort the communication time immediately. You will avoid the headache of getting blamed for something which isn’t your fault.

Plus if the client won’t pay then, your freelance contract comes into the picture. 
READ MORE: Learn How to Write a Freelance Contract 
How to Fire a Freelance Client

2. Bad clients talk down on you 

I got a client, not one but two on Upwork in 2017 when I reapplied for work on the website, to have a look/find out what the hype about Upwork was. I was finding ways to keep increasing my income.

I applied for a VA job. My rate per hour on the website was $20/hr, the client said to apply with our rates because the SEO work he wanted was so easy and could be completed in minutes.

The client inboxed me, it’d be so good to work with you because your proposal wowed me, but your rate is too expensive.

What country did you say you live in because I see you don’t live in America? I said, thank you very much it’d be a pleasure to work with you.

I live in Kenya. Ooh, that’s a third world country, you don’t need much money down there, I’d have hired you but the rates are too high.

Can you reduce them? Wow, just wow, he came from Germany. It was so laughable, but guess what, I lacked words to tell him, so I slowly left the chat. 

3. Clients who refuse to sign freelance contracts well, because why should they and they’re the ones employing you?

A client asked me, what’s the purpose of a freelance contract when I know I’ll pay you? He’s a nice long-term client.

I learnt about freelance contracts from Ryan’s blog in 2017 and why it’s important.

A client also wanted me to ghostwrite her self-help book, had never worked with a ghost-writer and was so scared I’d disappear with her work.

She asked, do you have a freelance contract so I can see your terms? And on Google search, I read Ryan’s blog which explained what a freelance contract was.

I quickly copied the template and sent it to my client. She happily signed and we started working about two weeks later. I met her on Facebook.

A client who refuses to sign a freelance contract because they don’t want a binding document, kindly run away from them asap.

Some of them won’t pay and some of them don’t want to pay a freelancer/gig workers/hustlers their hard-earned because they know you’re ready for peanuts. 

4. Clients who don’t say what they want 

Are freelancers miracle workers? A bad client thinks so

A nightmare client is the one who doesn’t say what they want.

These nightmarish people want you to work because you’re a freelancer – a miracle worker, who knows what the client wants at all times.

So, they’ll give you a job to do, they won’t give you details about the job no matter how many questions you ask.

They’ll say that’s what they know about the job and the client is always right. 

They’ll threaten to sack you if you keep asking questions so that they can hire ‘other great talent’.

5. Clients who ‘hide’ their true intentions with the work/ evade your questions when you ask them during the freelance client questioning in the interview 

Just as clients who won’t say what they want are the clients who won’t answer your questions because you may steal their job.

They won’t agree to answer any questions about what the project is about and why? What their goals for the project are.

They want you to work but after all your sweat, freelancers never get it, you’re either stupid or slow, they’ll tell you.  

6. The clients who don’t know what they want and want you to know because you’re a freelancer to help them figure it out 

Need I say more about these clients? 

7. Rude clients – the ones who tell you that you’re an employee and must behave like one 

These clients who treat you like a regular employee who isn’t self-employed.

They don’t care how they talk to you, with you.

They will talk down on you because they gave you a job, helped you pay a bill because you’re in a damn tight spot.

You’re a freelancer and freelancers aren’t rich.

You need me more than I need you. Cannot do what I say, you’re fired!

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you’re a business owner and a partner. I think and believe freelancers are partners.

I help solve problems for businesses and must be respected as I respect you.

8. The one with unrealistic timelines on work completion 

This one will be totally unrelated to freelancing but true. When I ran my pillow business in 2017, a client brought to me dresses to fix for her, she wanted them reduced.

I told her I don’t do dress repairs whether the dresses were new or old. ‘It’ll only take a few minutes to fix this side and this side’.

How much do you charge? Now, because I hadn’t set the price for such repairs and it looked like an easy job, I said 10 shillings.

That’s zero points 000000 dollars. I wasn’t worried though, it’d be my first time handling such a project.

After the client says, won’t take long, this is a 10-second job, it ends up being a one-month job. I’m not kidding, I cried every day about that one dress, it was so weird.

I learnt when a client says, it’s a ten-minute job, don’t do it, let the client do it themselves, otherwise, why would they need your help?

And most ten-second jobs end up being jobs that will frustrate you and build a bad name for your business.

Read the full story in my pillow business in Kenya. 

9. The client who wants more revisions than what’s recommended in the freelance contract 

The client in the story above wanted more revisions. The new dress she brought for repair and repair became an old wrinkled dress.

She asked for the dress to be unstitched and we all know what that does to a dress. What I learnt was that that kind of dress couldn’t be fitted because it was made wide (kaftan).

If a freelance client asks you to do more revisions than you agreed, that’s a red flag, run for the hills.

This is where your contract comes to the rescue. Let them pay for the more revisions they want. 

10. Ooh, your rates are too high, can you please reduce you live in a third world country and they don’t make much money over there 

Freelance clients who bargain for lower rates from freelancers

This is the story from Upwork with a beast employer would-be. I’m glad I never got to work with him even after he reached out.

I couldn’t work with someone who rates down my hourly rate because I come from a third world country.

I understand why he talked like that, he could see I had no Upwork rating so he didn’t understand why my rates were $20/hr.

At that point, in 2017, I valued my work as a freelancer. 

11. Clients who complain about other freelancers and compare you to the others 

The lady in my sewing shop nightmare complained about how other tailors are stupid/lazy/conmen.

She said stupid and thieves. I didn’t heed to that. You must listen to what your client is saying, if they spend time talking bad about how freelancers are and you are a freelancer, then you are no good either.

You cannot take credit when your colleagues get bad-mouthed, aren’t you a freelancer?. 

12. This will be an easy job- like 1,2,3 a job you can finish so fast despite your busy schedule which I totally understand 

Please, as I said earlier with the lady in the sewing shop, don’t ever take jobs from clients who say it’s easy.

They should have done it themselves well because it’s 123. 

13. Clients who know a lot about you than you do. Clients that are too friendly and use cuss words and informal words like ”buddy”, can you do this for me, it takes a short while?

These clients who call you buddy, friend and dear, darling, leave them out. They may be well-meaning but before you know it, your ”friend” disappeared without paying.

Friends take advantage of each other all the time, those evil ones anyway.

And this client isn’t your friend no matter how many years you work together for.

It takes a long time to call each other friend. Can you tell this ‘friend’ about your woes?

I have never had a fortune in people who befriend me too fast and easily and you won’t either. I promise.  

14. If you’re on freelancing sites, those with unverified accounts avoid them like the plague 

An unidentified client on a freelance website is an alien, avoid them

You want to work with a client who values his identity as an employer, those are the legit ones.

Don’t work with a client with an unverified account.

Those are the clients from the middle of hells’ burning fire.

They won’t pay. They reach out to Upwork before you claiming you didn’t work.

They post your work online claiming it’s their hard work and they say all freelancers are con men from hell.

They swear how they’ll never employ a freelancer. If a client with an unverified account reaches out to you, the first question you must ask is why their account is unverified.

If you feel the answer is appropriate, give it a benefit of the doubt and work. The simple answer for me, it’s a no, time to move on. 

15. Do you charge this much? What’s the name of that your company again? I searched it and didn’t see it anywhere, are you legit? 

A client asked me why I charged that much and what my company name was about?

Again, a client on Upwork. No wonder after these two clients, I never applied for more jobs and Upwork deleted my account.

I got tired and re-evaluated what I wanted, to chase more clients or get chased by clients.

And the idea of turning this blog into money got born. This was a hobby where I could lament about everything and anything happening or what intrigued me.

A client who asks about the name of your company is saying, I don’t see you being Google, Yahoo or Apple, why should I pay you?

You’re a freelancer for God’s sake and you can stay without money. Are you a million or a dollar billion company?

I have never heard of you, so scruff off. 

16. Clients who believe and want you to plagiarise because it’s a disputable case in court 

There are clients, I was told by one of my freelancer followers on YouTube that she was asked to copy another blog’s content word for word.

That confused her a bit.

She asked, can I change the wordings on the blog, sir? No, the client said, the way it is, nothing changes.

The only change is the research we will do.

The sad part, this was a reputable business she was writing for. It left her completely flabbergasted.

I have visited over a million blogs since discovering the online working world and I have seen content on Google’s page one getting copied to other blogs word for word.

Sometimes, I get confused when researching content for my site.

That’s why I add my own twist to the stories I provide here from my experience.

Sometimes, you have to research because you don’t know anything about that market, credit the source(s).

I do that with my eCommerce content because I don’t know much about running an eCommerce business. Don’t copy word for word. 

17. Believe in your guts 

Your gut tells you like it is and if you didn’t believe in your guts it’s about time. Listen to what your instincts are telling you, it’s the voice of God.

All the time when I ignore that still small voice, I meet tragedy or sometimes when I listen to it, I realise, this was my aha moment why did I put it away for a long time?

Works that way with clients, when your heart whispers, be scared of this client, don’t even wince. Run for the mountains. 

18. Clients asking for samples of your work and when you give them, they reject them all. They want you to write a sample according to a topic they provide 

My God, earlier in my freelancing career, I didn’t know this was called scamming. I thought I was pleasing my clients or would be with great awesome samples of my work.

I’d submit samples on a Word document that I wrote and the client would say, no, I need a sample written under this topic.

I believed them, took my laptop and got to work. What I didn’t know was I worked for free.

After completing the work, submitting and getting pleased that the client would hire me, I realised I got scammed. I got robbed.

On my sleuth work one day, I found a client who posted word for word on the work submitted.

It was so heartbreaking, I gave up freelancing for a week. I never shared my stories, just thought it was too embarrassing and kept on the facade that I’m excited about the online working world. 

19. Clients who want you to work for them because you’re a slave with no working hours 

Freelancers don’t have working hours? Think again!

The clients from hell who want you to work at any time of the day they want you. Like an infant crying for the mum every few minutes, no offence to infants here.

This client threatens you that you’re a very bad freelancer who won’t make it in the online space.

I remember this nightmare client on freelancer.com before getting one of my two long-term clients on freelancers.

She said to me, you won’t ever make it in the freelancing world, you’re too green to realise that this isn’t for you.

We hadn’t even set time for communication, I was late for duty for about 5 minutes because I was busy researching her content.

My God, she discouraged me and I gave up on being a freelancer.com.

To this day if you asked me what freelancing site I hate with my heart it is freelancer.com

20. Clients who negotiate your rates

When I was on Facebook in 2019, I learnt that negotiation doesn’t take place in the supermarket or luxury boutiques.

You’re a luxury store/supermarket, why allow clients to haggle over your price?.

Why allow clients to make you sound and look guilty for charging what you’re worth?.

You’re a businessman/woman, and proudly so. Let your clients treat you like so, you don’t need to justify your rates or terms of work. 

A Freelancer’s Life in Kenya

A freelancer’s life is riddled with so many uncertainties. Make your freelancing future certain by avoiding bad clients, clients who berate or downgrade you because of your nation.

Clients who haggle with you as if you’re a bargain store. Clients who don’t respect freelancers.

Don’t sell your freelancing services short because you need the money when you command respect you get respect.

See, the reason why I insist on freelancers establishing their brands?

You want your brand to be known, you’re a one-person business with a great name, don’t shy away from the humble beginnings.

Be honest with yourself, you don’t want to fall into the statistics that freelancers are poor and hassle clients for the rest of their lives.

You’re a boss and clients come for bosses. Start behaving like a boss. 

What are the red flags you bear in the mind or heart to weed out those bad freelance clients?

Do you have a few tricks up your sleeve that we haven’t discussed in this article?

Share with a newbie or seasoned freelancers or those dreading the freelancing world because of the evil clients.




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