6 Signs You’re Working with the Wrong Clients and How to Find the Right Ones

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Life as a freelancer means constantly searching for clients. Through cold emailing, applying to contract positions, and word of mouth, you’ll come in contact with a lot of people who can use your services. Once you’ve landed a client, it’s important to build and maintain a relationship with them. 

Unfortunately, not all clients are easy to work with. Sometimes you’ll come across a client who is extremely difficult, demanding, and makes you question why you chose the freelance path in the first place. 

These are some of the tell-tale signs that you’re working with the wrong clients. 





They Don’t Respect Boundaries

When you work outside of an office setting, it can be difficult to set working hours. Many freelancers tend to work late into the night and on weekends. And clients know this. 

If your clients constantly call you at odd hours of the day, expect immediate responses from you on the weekend, or set impossible deadlines for projects, you’re working with the wrong clients. 

Some freelancers may find their clients overreaching and asking them to complete work outside of your agreed scope of work. Now, this is acceptable if your client offers additional compensation for the extra tasks. The wrong clients will expect you to do what they ask, regardless of payment. 





They Require A Lot of Face Time

You’ll know when you’re working with the wrong clients when you find yourself spending more time in meetings with them than actually doing the work they assign you. You will spend most of your time on the phone discussing the project, planning, or giving updates on your work. 

As a freelancer with multiple clients, it’s important to divide your time as needed. Don’t waste your productive hours in meetings that aren’t beneficial to you or the project. 





They Micromanage

If you were to hire a mechanic to fix your car, would you spend your time looking over his shoulder suggesting they use a different tool or constantly asking for updates? I would hope not! You hired the mechanic, trusting that they are a professional and know what they are doing. 

The same goes for when a client hires you as a freelancer. Your client has hired you because you are an expert in your field. If that same client constantly micromanages you and doesn’t trust your opinion or work, then you’re working with the wrong one. 

This also goes for those clients who are always asking you to make changes to your work against your advice. Be confident in your ability and skills. You know best. 





They’re Constantly Changing Terms 

When you first start working with a new client, you both agree to the terms of work you’ll do. These terms include salary, types of projects, and responsibilities. The wrong clients will constantly change the terms of your arrangement either by adding work, asking you to go outside of your scope of work, or other terms. 

Usually, when clients ask for this, they don’t offer additional compensation and aren’t open to amending the agreement. 

It can start with just one small extra task that you don’t think twice about. But then, once your client knows that you will do extra work, they’ll keep asking for it. You don’t want to set this precedent. 





They’re Late with Payments

The unfortunate reality of being a freelancer is that your second job is to chase clients down for money. Some people will take advantage of the fact that you work for yourself and not a corporation. They know that you don’t have a debt collector to go after them if they don’t pay an invoice. 

When you have to constantly follow up with clients asking them to pay you, you’re working with the wrong ones. This is a sign of disrespect to you and your talents. 





They Don’t Pay You What You’re Worth

Every freelancer has been in the position of accepting any work that comes their way, no matter what the pay. When your clientele increases, though, you have to be strategic about which clients you take on. 

Will they be worth your time? Will they pay you what your time is worth

The wrong clients will try to negotiate your rates with you. This is especially common if you found them through a cold email. Respect your rates and let them know that they are reasonable for the work that you provide. 

Another sign your working with the wrong clients is that you are spending more time on their work, but are being paid less than your other clients. Essentially, you’re losing money working for them because you could spend that time on a higher paying client. 





How to Find the Right Clients

Now that you know what signs to look for when working with the wrong clients, you’re probably wondering how to find the right ones. Good clients are out there, I promise! 





There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Client

The sad truth is that the perfect client doesn’t exist. You’ll always have annoyances, big or small when working with them. This is where having good customer service skills comes in. If these annoyances are tolerable, simply look beyond them. 





Communicate Your Expectations

Communication is key when working with a new client. You have to openly express your expectations of the work you’ll be doing for them and the boundaries that you set. If you have set working hours, let them know! 

It is your responsibility to communicate your standards to a client because they won’t know otherwise. This is the foundation of building a longlasting relationship with them. 





Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

When clients approach you looking to hire you, it can be hard to turn them down. You probably look at it as easy money! You didn’t have to put the time into pitching them and following up. However, if they already show signs that they are a bad client or you have too much on your plate already, it’s okay to turn them down. 





Referrals Are the Best Clients

A client who has been referred to you is usually a pretty great one. Not only have you been recommended by someone, but you can take the referral as an endorsement for the prospective client. This is done when you build a good reputation for yourself with previous clients. 

To gain more clients like this, create a referral system for your business. This incentivizes your current clients to recommend your services to people in their network. When you sign on a client who has been referred to you, you can offer the referrer a discount on your services as a thank you.  Other forms of incentives include gift cards, a single month’s discount, or whatever you feel is valuable to your clients. 





Take Your Freelance Business to the Next Level

If you’re a freelancer or looking to become one, you know just how lonely and scary it can be. With a supportive community of fellow freelancers and weekly business tips on how to grow your business, you don’t have to feel that way anymore. 






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