4 Clients to Avoid as a Freelancer

Updated on: by Miranda Grimm

clients freelancers should avoid

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It may seem counterproductive to ever turn away a client when trying to build up your freelancing career. However, there are actually times when it is essential to your business! Use the following cues and tips to help you avoid clients that will most likely end in bitter disaster.


1. The “My Last Freelancer” Client

If your client begins by telling you how horrible their last freelance writer, designer, photographer [insert title here] was- RUN! In 6 weeks they will be talking about YOU.

My experience has proven two things about clients who bad-mouth their previous freelancer so frivolously:

1. They are most likely hard to please. Listen closely to their complaints. If you hear something like “they could never get it right” then I would assume the client has trouble communicating and will blame you.

2. They are drama. The last thing your business likely needs is drama. Stay away.

2. When is the Last Time You Went to the Bathroom Client

Watch out for those clients who feel they need to know your every move. They will often email you several times a day or even call you just to check how things are going. Of course, assuming you are not behind on any deadlines, this is a red flag of a terrible client.

I’ve had clients call on Sunday afternoon just to check-in.

The client is either in desperate need of a life or this is early signs of control freak.

You run your freelance business and people like this can make you feel as though they are running the show. Leave them behind as soon as you can.


3. The Don’t Mix the Peas and Taters Client

Picky Picky Picky. If your client begins with a lot of demanding requests that severely limit your work for them. You may want to consider if this is a client worth taking on. If you do- then be sure you have a good contract that makes it clear how many times you will re-do your work before you begin charging them.


4.  The Thinks an Inch is a  Yard Client

Some clients are like my 3 year old daughter. They will test your boundaries on everything. It’s hard to get used to being tough but in order to have respect from your client, it is unfortunately a requirement for most freelancers to find success.

If your client is frequently asking you to do things you didn’t already discuss, usually small things that seem too easy to mess with billing over- think twice! Those are the ones who most likely get you to do way more than you originally quoted them for. Either let this client go or stick firm to your initial agreement- which means billing additional, even when it is a minor 15 minute adjustment.

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Leisa Good

May 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Good list, Miranda. And don’t forget about the clients who want you to do your first contract for free with the promise of more work. Or they want you to do it for free to see if you work out. Direct them to your portfolio on your web site. Then run!


May 17, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Great Post!

Patti Hale

May 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

LOL! This is such a true list! Been there and done that! It is one of the hardest things to do when you’re first starting out to turn down work but it definitely is the best thing to do. I have had some clients–one in particular—where I was begging to be let go before it was all over!

Sandra Harriette

May 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Whoa…yeah I have been in situations where the client was starting to make demands outside of our agreement. I had no more energy to give, not even to use for communicating. The simple things added up and they took no regard for what I might have needed to invest on my part. It was a lessons learned and certainly not something that will happen again.

I needed the validation. Thank you so much!


August 16, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I recently had a potential client request that I fill out a 60 question assessment quiz to see if I was a right fit for her. I was going to write her 3 pages of content, not marry her!


September 25, 2013 at 11:30 pm