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The Five Clients a Freelance Writer Should Avoid

freelance writer clients that are like monsters
flickr photo shared by Erik Charlton under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

As a freelance copywriter, you’ll run into a diverse cast of clients, from big publishing companies to an average Joe who just wants you to ghostwrite his novel. However, no matter how big or small the client is, they may exhibit undesirable traits that should raise you a few red flags, and if you see the warning signs, run away if they’re not paying you enough. Here are the top five clients to avoid at all costs.

  1. The Penny Pincher

We’ve all met this one. They want quality, yet will pay you wages that are absurd even in the Philippines. While all clients have budgets, they can’t pay their writers slave wages, especially if they’re freelancing to make a living. If your potential client doesn’t want to pay you a living wage, back away. They’re not going to give you an increase.

  1. The Clinger

A client and a freelancer need to have good communication if they want the project to succeed, but there is such a thing as too much communication. If your client is constantly messaging you over Skype like an insane lover, demanding updates every other hour, wanting your personal Facebook, or threatening to cancel your contract just because you didn’t respond to them within a few hours, toss them. Freelancers have lives and can’t answer right away at some times. In order to prevent a clinger, tell them your contact hours beforehand.

  1. The Client Asking You for Free Work

Clients should never ask you to do work for them before you apply. Some may ask for you to write a small sample of writing so they can “see your style.” That’s what your portfolio is for! If they don’t have good feedback and are asking you to jump through hoops to apply, don’t bother.

  1. The Unreasonable Deadliner

Deadlines are important within reason, but as a freelancer, you’re probably balancing your client’s job with a handful of other projects. That’s why you should never stress over unreasonable deadlines. You can’t give your client a quality novel within a week, nor could you give them hard-hitting journalism in a day. Good quality takes a reasonable amount of time.

Granted, some clients are more lenient about their deadlines, but if your client isn’t, stay away.

  1. The Perfectionist

No matter how many times you submit your piece, it’s never good enough. Your client sends it back with a list of corrections, and once you fix them, the client then moves the goalposts by sending out more.

Are you their writer or their editor? If you are both, then skip this. But, reality is that most writers have a hard time scrutinizing their own work, especially on a limited deadline. Before you set the contract, tell your client that they’ll have to fork up extra every time they ask for unnecessary edits.

Granted, there are exceptions. If your potential client is your big break, but has an unfavorable trait, still work for them. However, for the average-paying client, say sayonara and move onto the next client, as there isn’t a short supply of them.