I just read an interesting post at CharfishDesign’s blog on Ways you can recognise the client from hell. It covered some warning phrases that any freelancer should be aware of when they hear it coming from a client.
These warning phrases include ones like “I don’t care”, “It’s up to you”, “You can do anything you want”, and a here’s beauty, “We need to make a few changes”.
I used to do wedding videos, run a home services franchise and be a sales consultant for several residential project building companies. So over a period of 15 years I got to deal with hundreds and hundreds of clients. Thank God most clients are kind and good natured. However when dealing with the general public you do get to deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately it’s the last two types that we generally tend to remember the most.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine which clients will be good and which ones will be bad when we first meet them. Over time we do learn to read the warning signs. But there are a few things we can do to prevent a difficult situation arising if we decide to take someone on as a client.
Get paid UPFRONT. No payment plans, no deposits unless they are to secure your services before the job, or if the job is going to be over $1,000 or $2,000. If the client or business cannot afford $1000 or so up front, they are not worth the risk. Payment plans are for large corporations or government utilities that have the resources to employee lawyers and debt collectors. Or for businesses selling retail services or products using your credit card for regular payments. However as a small to medium-sized business freelance work should always be paid upfront.
But at least get paid in FULL before you start the work. No exceptions. If you are good at what you do you should be able to provide adequate examples, demos and testimonials of your work. If that is not good enough for your prospective client let them walk. The good and SERIOUS ones will come back. Don’t be so desperate to get a client as that shows (even subliminally) and it lowers your bargaining power.
If you are a web designer and/or content writer and are sick of dealing with bad clients. There is a way to still make money. Just setup great WordPress minisites with unique content (10-20 pages is enough) on a particular niche. Then sell them at the internet marketing forums like DigitalPoint or WarriorForum. Those Internet marketers are easy buyers and love to buy new sites. If you also provide a good product and service, they will be pestering you for more sites to purchase. This might provide you with another income stream.