Client’s General Attitude and Demeanor
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Most surveys of those with conventional jobs find that over half of workers are not happy with their employment. And topping the list of reasons why is usually that old nemesis: the boss. A desire to get out of this situation is an essential motivation for many professionals to become freelancers—to “become one’s own boss”.
However, as we discussed in the introductory chapter, freelancers are their own bosses only to a certain extent. Each time you take on a client, that individual or company becomes your boss for the duration of the project. Most clients are nice people and working for them is a pleasure—but not all. The key to avoiding falling back into the nightmarish situation where you hate working for someone is to learn to recognize in advance clients that will not be enjoyable to work for, so you can avoid them.
Here are some danger signs that indicate certain types of clients you probably don’t want to have as your “boss” even for a short time.
Might as well start here, since these are the easiest to identify and the ones you definitely want to avoid at all costs. They are brash, demanding and rude in their project listings. They are confrontational and view the freelancing relationship as adversarial rather than cooperative. They don’t think of freelancing as a mutually beneficial exchange, but rather as a competition for how much they can get for as little as possible. To these people, business is a zero-sum game—they really believe that they can only get ahead by leaving others behind.
Most of these clients can be recognized immediately by their use of generally aggressive tone in their language. They just take on a general air that is hostile. Also watch out for listings with ALL CAPITAL LETTER FOR EMPHASIS or lots of exclamation marks!!! These don’t always indicate an abusive client, but often do.
Another concern is implied or even clearly stated threats to not pay if the work isn’t completed. What’s particularly stupid about this is that such threats are not necessary: no site will force a client to pay for work that isn’t done. But if the client feels it necessary to put such statements right in the project listing, consider that a red flag.
The irony is that many clients become abusive because they’ve had bad experiences in the past. They feel like they’ve been burned, start to distrust freelancers in general, and come to view freelancing sites as coliseums. Yet, more often than not, the clients themselves are responsible for their own problems, because they refuse to pay the rates necessary to get good people. Then they compound that mistake by acting in a derogatory manner, ensuring that only people desperate for work will bid, while further driving away the folks who could help them the most.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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