I often get emails asking me to write thousands of words for at $10 to $20 a pop. I typically end up telling them my regular clients pay me quadruple that or more for the same services. This usually makes them angry. (Not always, but usually.) Low-balling is the first sign that a client is not worth your time. They often haggle, then don't pay at all. If they do pay, they'll be big pains in the ass the entire way through.
This is just one sign of a client that will give you more headaches than dollar signs. Here's some more.
How to tell if a client will be a PITA
- He insists on calling you, even if you tell them you would rather use email. It's easier to say there was a "misunderstanding" in the agreement if it's verbal.
- She tells you she's on a budget. Oh, lord. This is code for stingy and wants articles for $3 each, tops.
- He wants you to write a "sample" article on a topic he picks. Honey, your clips are enough. Unless that article is a paid sample or the company is huge and reputable, just say no.
- She needs the article ASAP. Unless she's willing to pay for ASAP, pass.
- email riten lik this. their uprofess inal and un trust worthy. (Yes, I wrote it that way as an illustration. Don't send me emails!)
- Ghosts for several days before answering your emails.
- Hates everything you do or wants major edits. Typically, the cheaper the client, the more edits they'll want.
- Has a long chain of command that must approve all work you do.
- Promises "exposure."
- Promises that they will pay more in the future if their business takes off. This should go without saying! Damn skippy you will.
- Barrages you with emails in a very short amount of time about the project, even though you haven't agreed to do it yet.
How to prevent bad clients
Well, obviously, first you look for any of the warning signs above. There are some other tactics you can take to ensure you always get paid and you have happy working experiences.
- Be sure to get payment upfront (or at least half). If they refuse they can't afford you or don't trust you. Neither make for a happy work environment.
- Make your terms clear on your website. Here's a look at mine.
- Don't be afraid to say no if you get a funny feeling. Listen to your gut.
- Even if you're new to freelance writing, don't let a potential client bully you into insulting rates. Even as a newbie you still know more than your client, and that's worth a lot.
- Make sure you get everything in writing, whether that be a formal contract or emails. Trust me. You'll thank me later when crap hits the fan.
Need more good paying clients? Read my book The Fluff-Free Freelance Writing Master Course: The only course that gives you concrete, actionable information to building a successful freelance business without any fluff.