Signs you have bad freelance clients

By Rebecca Davis

Picture by Graphikamaal

Picture by Graphikamaal

More than 53 million Americans earn their income freelancing. Clients that they work for cross all industries and range from hospital administrators to corporate human resources directors to major motion picture studios to financial services institutions. Some of these freelance clients are demanding, requesting constant revisions, travel to in-person meetings and long work hours.

Freelance clients that drain you

These client demands can etch away at the benefits of being a freelancer, including attractive salaries. At the top end, freelancers earn six figure salaries. On average, a freelancers annual income is about $50,000 – $60,000, depending on the field that freelancers work in. But, it’s flexibility and the ability to shift incomes upward with experience (instead of waiting for a once a year salary increase at a traditional job) that attracts skilled professionals to freelancing.


Freelance for a year or longer and you’ll learn that money isn’t always enough to make a client worth sticking with. So, how do you know when it’s time to let freelance clients go?

At the top end is low pay. Even if this is your very first time working with a client as a freelancer, you deserve to be paid a reasonable rate. Do a quick search online to find standard, low and high rates for jobs in your field. Professional associations sometimes post rates at their websites.

It also might be time to let freelance clients go if:

  • Clients ask you to edit or revise a project three or more times. Set a limit on the number of revisions you will perform before you start working on a freelancing project. Include this limit in your contract.
  • Late payments are becoming the norm with a client.
  • During meetings with prospects or third parties, a freelance client repeatedly disrespects you, despite your attempts to educate them to stop this behavior.
  • You are expected to adhere to unreasonable deadlines as a freelancer. This includes tight work deadlines that regularly chip away at your weekends.
  • A client is engaged in a scam. Believe it or not, this happens.

Protect yourself as a freelancer

Do your homework on prospective freelance clients. Don’t send clients money or work for free, even if a client tells you that she can get you exposure. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. However, stay flexible and be open to reasonable negotiations.

You teach clients how to perceive and treat you. Respect yourself and your talents and skills. As a freelancer with a sharp business acumen, you’ll attract far more great clients than the types of freelance clients that you need to let go. Yet, when it’s time, be willing to pull the plug. The last thing you want is to drain your time, energy and resources on a client who is never going to pay you or who doesn’t respect your talents.

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Signs you have bad freelance clients

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