When you start out in any career, there are things you need to suck up and do, no matter how much you may hate them. With freelancing, this often comes in the form of working with clients and/ or businesses you don’t love. In my career, I’ve had my fair share of dealing with clients I can’t stand, and I decided long ago to avoid these clients once I called the shots. Each client comes with unique challenges but sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze. I’ve compiled my list of clients I refuse to work with, and I share my reasons for avoiding them like the plague.
Magic quick fixes
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I refuse to work with businesses that sell magic potions that promise the sun and moon and stars without facts to back up those claims. I approach each project with a dose of scepticism and if a business wants my talent, I need to know that I’ll be able to convince their potential clients.
Culprits in this group? Detox and diet products. Not all of them are scammy, but there are way too many products that are untested, ineffective and probably unsafe.
Very closely related to the magic quick fixes are the fantastic beasts. If a product sounds a bit like fiction, then it’s going to be a hard sell to sign me up. There are many gurus, spiritual people and alternative lifestyle businesses that do great work, but again, if I don’t buy it, I won’t sell it. I’m not harping on people who believe in alternative medicine or healing techniques, but I need some kind of proof or factual backing that support claims made by a client.
Culprits? Usually those selling the notion that whatever services and products they provide are questioned by people who have fallen for government conspiracies. Yikes
No, I’m not referring to hair removal and shapewear products. I’m talking about products that use fear to inform their stance. Products that play on people’s insecurities and fears to make bucks. I’m not saying that all of these products are awful or distrustful, but I always ask myself “isn’t there a better way to sell this product?” and the answer is almost always yes.
Culprits in this group? Insurance and medical over. These are incredibly important services and products, but if your main aim is to scare people into making a purchase, you are either very disturbed or you need a new copywriter (call me, I love a challenge). Don’t tell people that they are going to die terrible deaths if they don’t get your product, that’s pretty messed up and not very effective in remaining in the good graces of the public. PS: I have worked with insurance companies who provide amazing services and products, and they don’t use the “death” angle to convince customers. There are exceptions to every self-made rule.
The economy sucks right now, and businesses need to keep expenses to a minimum, but if a business comes into a negotiation with no intent on actually negotiating, but rather dictating what they need (everything) and they are set on what they want to pay (next to nothing) then I politely bow out. Or run screaming from the room, whatever is least expected. Negotiating with clients over pricing and project scopes comes with the territory, but when a client is unreasonable, I don’t hang around. My rates are based on my talent, not your budget. (I totally stole that from something a friend sent me, and if you know who came up with this gem, give them a high-five and send them my way for credit).
Culprits? The bigger businesses, the ones you wouldn’t expect it from and the ones who actually have a budget. The ones who forget what it is to make a living because they have so much money to throw around (be it their own money or company budget).
Clueless and clueless about it
My final “client to avoid even worse than crocs and sunburn” is the clueless, uninformed and totally unashamed about it. These clients love telling you how to do your job even when they have none of your experience and qualifications. Collaborating with my clients is essential because they know their industry and customers, but when collaboration turns into commands, and the client rejects my every decision, I REALLY JUST CANNOT, EVEN. If you know better, then you should do better. Enjoy the shitshow your ego is organising for you. Bye!
Culprits? Not trying to be ageist here, but the culprits are usually very young (and inexperienced and new to business) or really old (unable to grasp the difference between Google and Facebook).
What type of client do you run from? Tell us about your awful client experiences in the comments!
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