Freelancers: Types of bad clients you might want to avoid


4 Tips to Avoid Getting Burned by a ClientLike it’s not enough that freelancing is hard, where you have to market, structure, make economic plans, find clients, and stay up to date with latest tools, but you have to deal with clients without knowing from first.I assume you already know that politeness and courtesy don’t make up for a distinct lack of communication, decisiveness, or simple lack of interest by the clients part. Today, i will present you a top 4 of the worst kinds of clients that exist in the freelancing world. Learn a lesson from my mistakes and fire these kinds of clients when you smell them ahead. I encourage you to write your bad experiences with the clients below in the comments section.

Let’s get to know the worst types of clients.

1 – The Business Opportunity Client

I found this one on oDesk, while looking for Web Development jobs. I applied to one job for a client that wanted a website, with a wizard, just like in Desktop Applications, to create websites. The user would enter the name he wanted, the hosting plan, select a template, choose a payment option, and create a website for his own. The client wanted to re-sell templates from big websites, passing them on as Premium Templates. As the websites we’ve chosen agreed, even encouraged reselling these  templates, i thought it would be cool.

So i invited him to choose a payment option, and then he says: “You’ll be given the first 1500$ that we gain from the website.”, i suggested that i wasn’t interested, but i would like to be paid for my work via milestones. He started calling me names, and told me that i had no idea how a business works. I told him that i understand the opportunity but i’m not interested in insecure returns.

What do you think his argument was?

“I can’t make payment to you this way because i will lose 300$ if the website doesn’t work out.”

I told him that i’m doing the work here, and all he will do is just promote. He says that online social promotion is equally hard (if social promotion is hard for him, think how productive this guy is in his daily life). And i told him that i might start work if he can develop websites himself too (so we work side to side). He stated he can’t work with someone like me. <sarcasm> What a loss! </sarcasm>

Sure, if you are up for a new investment, and have enough free time (which is not good, go start something, work!)

2 – The “I can do it too” client

If you are a freelancing web developer (which often means: software engineering, developing, designing, and SEO with online marketing at the same time), chances are that your client doesn’t know very much (except for the few that are web developers themselves too, in that case, try to never lose them!). If the client had the time, knowledge, or the resources to do what you can do, he would have not been there looking for web developers in the first place. This client will try to pay you as little as possible, and will often act like a specialist, ignoring your “but this can’t be done if you X” and will stick to their own assumptions about your work.

3 – The “I want it and I want it cheap” Client

I am amazed to see on oDesk or on eLance hourly rates of 1$, or 1.50$, the clients dropping the prices almost to nothing, and expecting quality work. Quality work means: skill, research, and experience. And no freelancer that is confident in his skills and provides high quality work will expect anything less than 10$ a hour. This i know personally because the good freelancer already has snippets to reduce time for writing code, takes care of security problems, and overall has much better experience. There is no problem in wanting good enough work, but don’t send me messages if you want very high quality work at a rate like 2$ a hour. A good freelancer makes great efforts in getting the website functional (say, if a the client’s database crashes, he will fix that issue for the client, because he takes client’s websites well being into account). The solution to this is to set a fixed rate (mine is 20$ a hour), and stick to that. Sure, at the beginning, you can charge less, but why continue like that if you are experienced in your domain? Respect yourself and your work!

4 – The Indecisive and Passive Aggressive Client

If you heard something like this from a client before:

– “Hmm, i don’t like that anymore, maybe we should try this other thing. No. Choose Y…PUT IT BACK TO X”

You might ask yourself: “What the hell is wrong with this guy anyways?”, then you have got yourself an Indecisive and Passive Aggressive client. A client like this will lose you tens of hours from the time you could have spent it on working with a client that will explain clearly what he actually wants (i love the clients that send me specifications, UI design mock-ups, details about certain processes such as custom registrations). Don’t lose time with one of these. Go find yourself a client that will treat you and your team a thousand percent better.

5 – The “I will pay you 100 years later” client

Sure, there might be times where you are desperate enough to find a client who will pay 2, or 3 weeks later after you finished the work (oh boy, does the hunger period make a man submissive!), but these are one of the worst ones because they assume you are stupid along giving you a very bad deal. In the following weeks after you finished this project, all you might gain is an extra website on your portofolio. Sad isn’t it? And there is a huge risk of the client not contacting you anymore after you finished his work. If you already did the work for him, what could he gain by giving you the money? You already gave it for free! And if you work at a website like oDesk or Elance, chances are your money will not be refunded because you worked outside the fixed-price or hourly-rate agreements.

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