This week’s A-Z of freelancing is ‘bad clients’, voted for by the fans over on The Freelance Lifestyle Facebook page.

I can see why they want it covered. Dealing with bad clients is tricky, time-consuming and frustrating. It can take freelancing from fun to a big fat fail.

I’ve discussed before that bad clients come in lots of different disguises, in my post Five difficult clients and how to deal with them. You’ve got late payers, the goal post changers, the vague ones, the ones that expect you to be on call 24/7 and the manipulative ones.

In that post, I’ve outlined how to deal with bad clients. But how do you spot them and avoid them in the first place?

It’s not always easy. But there are some things you can do.

  • Do your research. Have a search of their business online, on Twitter and Facebook. It’s best to know the full picture before you go forward.
  • Offer a consultation session. This is a great way to get to know them and their business without a commitment. 
  • Go with your gut. If your gut isn’t sure, either don’t go for it (or make sure you charge enough to make it worth it!)
  • Send your Terms of Business, and don’t work with them until they’ve agreed to them (on paper/email). Include your hours, the maximum use of free revisions if applicable, where your work can be used and payment terms.
  • Ask for an initial payment, if it’s a big project. This will weed out the flighty ones, and often the late payers too.
  • Be firm and confident. Potential clients that constantly request or expect a discount don’t respect your work – and are therefore likely to be tricky further down the line.

Chances are, you’ll pick up the odd bad client here and there. To be completely blunt, a well-paid project can often blind us to downsides of a particular client. And even great clients can occasionally become bad clients. The key is how you deal with them.

How do you spot bad clients?

The little favour

I have a little favour to ask of you, dear readers.

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about Task Squad, a project that helps young people get paid temporary work? Helping young people find work is something I’m really passionate about, and I know the team at Vinspired are just as passionate about it.

As a disclosure, my friends Sam and Lea from The High Tea Cast are involved with this (in fact, Task Squad was an idea pitched by Sam to her bosses) 

Anyway, the favour. Task Squad is up for the Google Global Impact Award. There are just 10 UK organisations up for this award. This is a huge deal for them, and could lead to a £500k award that could help 270,000 young people get access to paid work over the next 3 years. So I’m asking for your votes, which takes just a second to do. You don’t need to give any info, just click the ‘vote’ button.

Want to know a little more? Jump on the Twitter Q&A on 28 May from 1-2pm.