Everything in life comes with the good and the bad. Freelancing is no different. I can attest to having had my share of bad clients. In this game, you will probably come across a few of your own regretful experiences.
To say the least, if I can help one person avoid that one bad client, then I have done my part to help a fellow freelancer avoid one of the biggest headaches of their career.
Realistically, there are many situations that will come up. You need to be aware and be willing to walk away. Even if you need the money bad, trust me, you don’t need it this bad.
I’m not going to lie. The below mentioned bad client types are the result of my own indiscretion and desperation to make a buck at all cost. I can honestly admit now that my downfall was believing I had no choice. As with anything in life, you need to be willing to walk away and choose to not victimize yourself with these bad client types.
Being hired by a fellow freelancer can sometimes spell trouble. I had one such freelancer who hired me to work for her. At first, I was unaware that she was a fellow freelancer herself.
In the end, I spent countless unpaid hours skyping with her about other freelancers she mistrusted, and about her good and bad gigs. She consistently promised to give me work which never came to fruition.
Upon getting around to the issue of work and pay, she submitted a non-compete contract, asking me to sign. This was my cue to run for the hills.
I’m a freelancer and she’s a freelancer. In her ideal world, I would agree to never bid against her on any potential jobs through Upwork or anywhere else. That’s one creative way to try to rid herself of perceived competition.
Before taking on work with a fellow freelancer be sure to establish expectations. Set the pace from the start and never agree to a non-compete contract.
There are situations where a client will reasonably ask for a non-compete contractual agreement. In my opinion, working with a fellow freelancer should rarely if ever be one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. Working for another freelancer can be a great opportunity. Make sure you set the pace and know what you are getting into before taking the gig.
The Fruit Sampler
I have seen my fair share of potential clients trying to get free work. They pretend to just want a sampling of your work. “Just a small taste before they buy.”
This type of client puts out a file and ask you to fill in a few lines. This is particularly common with data mining or internet research gigs.
It’s a smart trick too. If hundreds of hungry freelancers each complete a few rows in a spreadsheet and submit, then the task gets done fast and free.
This is either an unscrupulous fellow freelancer trying to get paid for doing nothing or a deviant client who wants to get a project completed at no cost to him. Don’t even waste your time.
Good clients understand those good freelancers can provide examples and referrals as proof. Never complete a small portion of the task if you are not being paid for your time. If you do, the joke is on you.
This potential client will engage your bid offer with a counter request that you accept $5 hourly because he can easily hire a good Indian worker for $2 an hour. This indeed happened to me.
My response? “Well then, you’d be wise to hire that worker in India. No American worker can afford to freelance for that price, and neither should we.” His response? “You are very rude.”
Yes, if you undercut my bid with a wage that is not sustainable in my corner of the world, you’d better believe I’m going to come back with an equally rude response.
At this point, we are clearly not going to work well together. Maybe if more freelancers were in-your-face, upfront then these guys would get a clue. Either that or get lost.
If you want an American worker, you should pay an American wage. Equally, if you want an Aussie worker, a Chinese worker or an Indian worker, you should pay wages that are fair to that worker’s location.
You Deserve Better
Let’s face it. For whatever reason you jumped into freelancing, I’m positive it wasn’t to be lowballed and devalued. When you step out onto this freelancing path be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t become desperate for any job. I’ve been there. I’ve taken a few bad clients because I thought I had to. There are bills to be paid and a life to sustain.
The reality though, it wasn’t worth being used and undermined by a client who never respected me in the first place. Respect is a two-way street. If there is not mutual respect, the experience will not be pleasant. Too many bad clients can become a bad habit that leads to failure.
Just do yourself a favor. Read into the opportunity, ask the right questions and do your research. In the end, your career will flourish. Most importantly, know when to walk away and know when to run. 😉