How To Spot Nightmare Clients A Mile Away

I’ve been doing freelancing for almost 3 years now and I’ve had my fair share of bad clients. Initially, I was very eager to take up work from almost anyone and I never said no. But with time, I’ve learned to say no sometimes as the money is not worth the frustration of having to deal with difficult clients.

So how do we identify the red flags? There are some things that potential clients might say and these are definitely the warning signs to look out for.

1. “Why does it cost so much? It will hardly take five minutes to make!”

This is one client you want to run away from ASAP. This client does not value your time or your work. And even if you settle to work for them, they’re going to make you do innumerable changes because they feel they’re paying for it.

2. “I’ve worked with countless designers but they are not able to give me what I’m looking for…”

Uh oh! Step back Missy because this client screams ‘high maintenance.’ A client that complains about people they’ve worked with always screams danger. It means that he/she has trouble deciding what they want and can never make up their mind. Slowly back away and move on to your next inquiry.

3. “Can we meet to discuss this? It will help me decide if I want to work with you.”

No, no, no. Not in a million years. If a client can’t decide if he/she likes your work when you send them your portfolio, this is a complete waste of time. A meeting should happen only if they’ve decided to go ahead with the project and they want to discuss it further. This is a big sign that the client will be very difficult to please.

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4. “Can you give me something different?”

Assume you’ve already started work on a particular project, and the client is not satisfied with anything you put in front of her. She wants something different but doesn’t know what. There’s a very good chance, you’re never going to satisfy her. This is a sign to close up shop gently.

5. “Can’t I have it today? It’s only a logo. How long does it really take to just put some shapes together?”

This is the ‘Everything needs to be done immediately’ client. Never accept such a client because once again, he/she does not value your time. He/she assumes that you have absolutely no other work in hand except theirs and therefore they should be the first and utmost priority.

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6. “Okay, I assume that this was included. Why do I have to pay extra again?”

This client will pay for one thing but expect a whole lot more other than what was bargained for. They will argue and bargain till they get what they want. Do not become soft and agree. This is exactly what they want and you’re only playing into their hands.

7. “Can’t you make it look like her logo?”

There are some people who will want you to duplicate someone else’s work. If you feel that this is not your problem, think again. Ripping off someone else’s work is not right in any world. It may get the job done but it’s unethical and unprofessional. Do not entertain such requests.

What is the worst thing a client has said to you? Leave a comment below. And I’ll see you next week with a brand new post.


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  1. 1

    Thanks, Angela. This came at the perfect time 💕 I’ve dealt with so many difficult clients in the past and never knew the danger signs. I’m actually working with one now, and oh boy am I regretting it! Definitely looking out for these signs next time!

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