When you’re out on your own in the freelance world, there will be a time or two or three when you bypass your better judgment to take on projects because you’re feeling worried about your cashflow. While that’s a huge consideration, it’s exactly those circumstances that should have you questioning whether the project and client are the right fit for you. Deciding who to work with and for applies to existing and new clients. Then who are the clients that aren’t the right ones? If you’re not sure, here are some red flags to alert your radar:
The client that engages in crossing boundaries of respect.
I’m not sure this happens to men as often as it does to women (I might be mistaken) but some clients are human messes in transit. They hire you for your talent and then assume that their ulterior motives are somehow part of the creative brief. “Absolutely not!” While you might be thinking, ‘I really need the work,’ consider that these type of people take up a lot of your energy and don’t necessarily attract more quality work. If you find yourself in a working dynamic with an inappropriate client, you can try to renegotiate the boundaries, but keep in mind that it’s more likely the case that they didn’t just start behaving this way.
Symptomatic of the above client:
- Ones that frequently call you after business hours or regularly
expect you to work on weekends.
- Often have a sense of urgency about all projects and don’t bother to
- They request that you meet in person in an environment that’s not
an office or a professional setting.
- Makes inappropriate personal comments.
Clients that request work in excess of the scope of the project without wanting to pay for your additional services.
This is why you ALWAYS want to have a contract that spells out the scope of the project. The agreement or contract will serve to match up everyone’s expectations and can be referenced when the client decides to change the parameters without your approval.
The client who doesn’t understand your process and tries to control
Designers are in the service industry and while it’s totally understandable that every new client requires an educational process through the framework with which you govern your creative process/work, it’s important that they realize that they are not designers. Otherwise, why would they have hired you? Now that’s not to say that it isn’t a collaborative process but what I’m talking about has more to do with control and mistrust. If your client doesn’t trust that you’re going to give them your best and chooses to art direct you, then you’ve opened the gates of inequality to favor their expertise over your own.
Here are a few things you can do to attract the right client:
- Create a brief questionnaire to get a sense of what your client’s needs and expectations are.
- Try to meet them first (in person or via Skype) because your gut has a lot of good information letting you know what’s to come.
- Google them to gather more information and check out their LinkedIn profile. See whether they’ve taken the time to complete their profile and what other’s have said about them in terms of reviews.
- Do a search on the Freelancer’s Union Scorecard site to see ratings of other freelancers and their experience with the same client. https://www.freelancersunion.org/client-scorecard/
- Ask your client for client referrals and call 2 or 3 of them—people that they’ve worked with who can shed some light on what their experience was.
Ultimately you’re looking to create the right alchemy between you and the client, which means setting up both parties for success from the start. The best way to do that is through your due diligence.