Tag Archives: clients freelance writing

Five Clients to Avoid as a Freelance Writer

One of the best parts of working as a freelance writer is that you can choose who your boss is. While we do go to great lengths to get work, sometimes there are jobs that aren’t worth accepting. Here are a few.

1. The Vague Client

If a client can’t share the details with you about their project until after you have given them an estimate, the work is likely to be twice as much as you anticipated. Give people ballpark estimates as much as you can until they can give you enough information to make a formal quote. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

2. The Extrordinary Powers Client

A recent post on the “master agreement” with Transcontinental Media got a lot of attention. In the agreement, the large media company basically says it can use your article for anything at any time once they pay you a one-time fee. Agreements like this with large media companies are bad ideas as they repackage your content for a myriad of uses and get paid for it while you don’t get a dime. If you are writing for the web, sell one-time web rights. If you are writing for print, sell one-time print rights. Let the company know that if they want to use your content more than once, they need to pay you for all uses.

The exception I’ve made to this is for small businesses. If they want to put their newsletter content on their website, that’s fine with me. Your level of caring about this may vary.

3. The Angry Client

If a client starts off by angrily badmouthing their last writer, or getting mad because you didn’t respond to their e-mail from two hours ago, chances are good that they won’t be great to deal with on an ongoing basis. This is different from a constant client who kvetches about their troubles to you; if you have become a confidante for your clients count yourself as lucky.

4. The Time Suck Client

If a client expects you to be on-call, you should charge accordingly. If you are working to a deadline, it is pretty much a given that you should make yourself available shortly before that deadline is up. However, if your client has decided that they have to work on a weekend and they will need you for a project at 8:00 on Saturday night, the nature of which they don’t know yet, you have every right to charge a retainer to ensure your availability.

5. The “Send Me A Quote” Client
Some clients will get you to do a few quotes before they retain your services. This is normal. However, if you are on your tenth quote and they haven’t hired you yet, you are best off forwarding them a standard rate sheet to cover the umpteenth request. If they notice, you may have a chance of getting work. If not, time to move on. This client is probably using you to fill up their “get three quotes for the project” requirement and you are better off not being on that list if you aren’t getting work from them.

Got some clients you’d like to add to this list? Post them in the comments section.