(As you will find out, there are definitely client types you should kick to the curb. Rae and Usher seem to do it well.)
Who in their right mind rejects business? I didn’t – at first. If you are reading this, you may be one of more than 15.5 million who ditched the nine to five or started side hustle to become self-employed. The rise of the freelancer, consultant, and self-made entrepreneur is exciting when you first begin. When I began freelancing writing and social media services as a side hustle three years back, I was anxious, HUNGRY and ready to take on any and every client, including their expectations and personality types.
Over time I learned not all business is good business. A service transaction should only occur when both parties can mutually benefit from one another. It is a challenge to work with clients who are lukewarm about their business, unable to do due diligence on their future investment, or the worse – expect you to wave your magical wand and help them grow a large social media following or launch a sold out product overnight. (I’ll save that story for another time).
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement to grow your business or side-hustle and make money. Most new freelancers don’t realize that choosing to do business with a client is a two-way street. Choosing the right client is just as important as delivering the best quality of work you can produce. If you are in a place of survival, I understand that beggars can’t be choosers. I’ve been there – do what you have to do. However, once you get into a position of being able to make choices, choose wisely.
Here are a few types you should swerve on:
The (un) Realist
Building Rome overnight is a requirement with the (un) Realist. This client type is typically ignorant of certain processes and only see results. They are a headache when it comes to planning and will constantly make you feel as if you are on a chopping block if you don’t meet certain standards. The vetting process is crucial for this client type because once you know their goals you can easily determine if it is feasible for you to accomplish. If you come across an (un) realist, be graceful in declining their project. A good freelancer, or any business person, should never promise what they can’t deliver. I strongly recommend doing a complimentary analysis of what you think can be improved. Once the client goes to others who (hopefully) decline unrealistic expectations, they will reevaluate their goals. Until then, save yourself the trouble.
This client does not get involved in the process. More than likely, they liken you to Jesus and allow you to take the wheel on an area of their business. Of the three types mentioned, this may be one of the scariest client types. Essentially, you are dealing with someone that has no vision for their own business. If you suspect this client type is not hands-on, be sure to ask them the following questions before you sign an Agreement to Work:
- What is your vision for XXXX project?
- How involved will you be in the process?
- What is the approval process for specific tasks?
Probing a client with some of these preliminary questions may help you assess how much control the client will give you. No one wants a micro-manager client; however, you should want a client who contributes adequate input in your project to lead you in the right direction.
The Lost One
This client is in the business of keeping up with the Jones’. Their success is based on the success of everyone around them. They will change a strategy in a heartbeat if they think that the next person is doing something better – regardless if the person is serving the same niche or not.
When you deal with The Lost One, it can be challenging to sway them in the right direction. In fact, it may even be impossible. Like the (un) Realist, The Lost One will be relentless getting you to follow an agenda that may not necessarily serve their business in a positive way. As a professional, you should always recommend alternatives but remember, at the end of the day, you must go with your client’s direction – no matter how terrible their decisions may seem.
As you develop your business or hustle, be mindful of the type of clients you let into your world. Sometimes, you may not always be able to identify a “good” client in the beginning, but you should always, at minimum, look for the signs. Be sure to craft a good freelancer Agreement/Contract for each project you decide to take on. Your freelancer’s Agreement/Contract is your bible for relationship guidelines between you and your clients. This document will likely be adjusted over time as you gain different experiences with new clients. So the next time, you have an opportunity to take on a client, remember, having a “type” may be better than no type at all.
Don’t be like these guys. 🙂
(If you’ve been totally clueless about the origin of this post title and photo references, check out Rae Sremmurd’s song, “No Type” here.)
What client types should freelancer avoid? I want to hear your stories! Tweet me: TheWriteGirl_
Whitney L. Barkley is a freelancer and founder of Barter Babes, LLC. She definitely has a client type.