≡ Menu

8 Things Freelancers Don’t Want to Hear Clients Say & How To Respond

From website designers to writers, freelancers provide an important service to businesses that need additional help without hiring on full time staff members to work on site. While freelancing may bring the benefits of a flexible schedule and the ability to pick and choose clients, there are plenty of tough situations that freelancers will face. Here are eight things freelancers never want to hear from clients (and a few solutions):

“This Project is Also URGENT!:
Every freelancer has a long to do list, and therefore it can be especially grating when a client requests that every project be done “ASAP.” While it’s sometimes possible to reshuffle your list in order to meet someone’s needs on a tight schedule, don’t let a client’s demands throw your life into chaos. Offer some give and take, communicate what’s on your plate, and work to find a happy balance where you can meet deadlines without flat lining.

“I’ll Provide You with Steady Work But Please Offer Low Rates”
If you’ve visited a freelance job posting board, you know that people offer rates as low as $5 an hour for a blog post. Though such low ball numbers typically apply to content mills that pay little attention to the quality of a post, some clients of freelancers have gotten the idea that they can squeeze freelancers for rates below minimum wage. Ada Ivanova writes at Speckboy Design Magazine, “Clients with such ridiculously low rates often use the bait that they might be paying not much (i.e. not even peanuts but rotten peanuts) but they can offer a steady supply of work. Oh, what an honor!” Freelancers need to recognize the value they provide their clients and stick to their stated rates, lest they undervalue their professional work.

“I Lost The Invoice”
Whether a client claims the invoice was lost in the mail or in an inbox, sometimes clients will use stalling tactics to delay the payment of an invoice. This can put a huge financial strain on freelancers if it is not dealt with immediately. While you should always resend an invoice after a client claims it has never arrived, one proactive measure is to set up a confirmation system so that you both have a record that an invoice has been received. Gmail offers this feature and online invoicing programs such as Freshbooks make this easy to automate as well.

“Just Do What You Think Will Work”
Clear communication is essential for providing clients what they need, but if a client fails to provide specific instructions, freelancers know that trouble is ahead. Rean John Uehara writes at 1st Web Designer that freelancers should never work with a client who “says ‘do what you think is great because I don’t know anything about that,’ [because] then when you provide output he/she will not like it and rant like there’s no tomorrow.” Always insist on specifics and get the instructions in writing when possible.

“You Know You’ll Have a Lot of Exposure With Me”
Though every freelancer needs to network and advertise, they also need to pay the bills. Payment in exposure, especially on a new website that has yet to attract substantial traffic, hardly helps meet a freelancer’s basic needs and is rarely an attractive option from a prospective client. Freelance Writer Michelle Goodman puts it succinctly in the New York Times: “No one ever filled a gas tank or bought groceries with exposure.” If you do write for free, make sure you can convert some aspect of the work into income in the long run.

“I’ll Pay You Just Like I Would Pay My Employee”
One strategy some clients use in trying to drive down the prices of their freelancers is comparing their employees’ salaries to a freelancer’s rate. Alvaris Falcon spells it out at HongKiat: “freelancers usually just work for the service or product. They don’t get employee benefits or sick days off. They don’t even have the basic insurance protection.” Explain to the client that you’re not an employee, and go into some detail about benefits, etc.

“I’ll Pay Later”
Freelancers don’t have any guarantees that their clients will pay on time, if at all. The best solution to such a problem is this: “Instead of receiving the payment in the end, you could ask for half of the payment upfront: 50% cost of the project. That way you can cut your losses even if the client suddenly disappears off the face of the Earth.” Even if you lose out on part of your project’s payment, receiving half of the payment up front will give your clients a little more incentive to take you seriously and to respect your contract terms.

“Let’s Start Over”
Every freelancer wants to make his/her clients as happy as possible with their work, but when a client wants to start over on a project, there could be a huge problem. Freelancers need to be paid by the hour for their work or a flat fee that is based on their hourly rate, and therefore most can’t afford to completely redo an entire project without being paid for the additional work. The best solution is to set up a contract where you specify that you will set a special revision rate for your clients should they require additional work on a project.

What do you hate most to hear from clients and how do you handle it?

This post was sent to us kindly by Lior Levin who works for a company that provides a shopping cart abandonment service and tools. Lior also consults to a css company from AZ.

Two newsletters:
About Freelance Writing
Writing With Vision

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Sasha Y. Kimel


{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Ali

    When a client say’s “it’s urgent”, I simply tell him “it’ll cost more” and usually it’s double the normal Price.
    Ali recently posted..7 Unusual Places To Find Your Next Blog Post TopicMy Profile

    • amazing what that phrase, it will cost more, does… both for your own self-worth and the client’s sense of urgency. Good for you.

  • Great information!

    I’m choosy when it comes to working with clients. If I receive a ‘gut instinct’ that indicates the opportunity will be more work than it’s worth, I’ll say, “Thank you. But I’ll pass on this project.” There are plenty of good paying clients and writing opportunities available, you just have to find them.
    Amandah recently posted..WordPress Errors That Make You Look SillyMy Profile

    • Totally agree… every time I’ve ignored that small voice saying ‘no’ I’ve wished I had paid attention.

  • Tom

    A selection of great tips to help every freelancer avoid potentially tricky client scenarios.

  • Ah yes. The “do whatever you think will work” directive. I’m on one of those jobs right now. Defining the job was like trying to land a slippery fish with oily hands. His other great promise…”If this works, you’ll be WELL compensated.” Right. That was after he showed me all his previous content that he unashamedly told me he stole from other providers.

    Good thing I got 50% up front and I went in with eyes wide open. 🙂
    Carrie Schmeck recently posted..5 Ways to Avoid Having a Repellant WebsiteMy Profile

    • ugh, hate it when that happens. Glad you got 50% up front.

  • Excellent list Anne.

    I just took a rush assignment yesterday to update materials for a college textbook, but I got the editor to bump the fee because it’s a rush job. In this case there truly is a small time window, since the textbook and the materials I’m creating have to be ready for the beginning of winter quarter in early January.
    John Soares recently posted..When Is the Best Time for You to Write?My Profile

  • Anne, what you point out is all so true. The worst is “lets redo the work” and “I’ll pay you later” . It shows the client does not respect your time.

  • This is great info. I agree with Sharon. It should be required reading for every new freelancer.

    • Wonder how we can make every freelance writer read this? lol.

  • This should be required reading for every new freelancer, Anne.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..Have You Started Preparing For Christmas Yet?My Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »