Writer's Advisory: Problematic Clients


In a freelance professional's career, the issues posed by problematic clients are myriad and the reasons for holding on to them nonexistent.

After some 5+ years spent peddling my writing services online, I can honestly say I love freelancing! However, the occupation is not without its woes.

In particular, I'd like to begin this "Writer's Advisory" series with one of the most difficult obstacles every freelance writing professional (and freelancer in general) must face; garbage clients.

I use the term 'clients' ever-so-loosely in this context, as these problematic people are highly likely to avoid paying the professionals they work with whenever possible.

They aren't really clients at all, just problems to be sorted out.

The issue with these types of clients is that they take advantage of honest freelancers on the regular - demanding the world without even paying at day's end.

Hopefully, the advice provided below will help others like yourselves who've felt the sting of expended time, energy and sanity being flushed down the drain.

Feel free to get in touch if you could use a bit of guidance in your own freelance career and let me know what you think of the information you've found here.

As with most things in life, it's best if we start at the beginning...

The first thing you ought to understand is just what attributes make for a truly bad client. You know, like what's a real *blowout look like?

Here are three types of clients you'd do best to avoid (I dub them the "Terrible Three"):

The Peanut-Peddler

This is your quintessential low-baller.

Oh, your rate is $100 for that 1000-word article? They expect it for $5... Tomorrow!

Need the money, so you go for it anyway? Well, you then find out you're a sub-par writer and below-average human being to boot. Oh, and they won't be paying at all!

Dump 'em and don't you dare look back. Unless, of course, you're fond of freelancing out of a cardboard box.

The La-Dee-Dawdler

This is your standard time-waster.

These wantrepreneurs have just launched their new Wordpress sites and seem like they're serious about getting down to business, but it's all a facade.

Beneath the surface of mandatory Skype calls, Facebook chats and text messages, you're sure to find a lazy do-nothing with time to burn.

They'll use your time in the same fashion they use their own; poorly.

Run for the hills if you value productivity, timely payments and assignment details that don't magically change the moment you send in your work.

The Jerk

This is your grade-A arsehat.

These people take sarcasm, insults and an air of condescension to new lows. They're amazingly mean.

About as much a pleasure to work with as a brick to the teeth, these D-bags seem to delight in inflicting massive emotional and psychological trauma on those they work with.

In dealing with these types, your best course of action is to drop them like they're hot. A permanently enraged client is torture to work with and since you're not their employee, it's your own fault if you choose to stick around.

Let me let you in on a little secret before we continue with tips for dropping these people...

If a potential client has ANY of the above qualities, they're trash.

Yes, you heard me correctly! They are complete clowns and should be avoided like the bubonic plague.

You see, in my experience, clients having just one of these qualities were rendered absolutely insufferable to tolerate, let alone work with.

Don't learn the hard way (I know most of us did), avoid problematic clients and live a happy, focused life.

Tips for Dropping Bad Clients

Some freelancers preach non-violence in this area of their profession, but I say do whatever you feel is fitting for the situation at hand.

Is your client a minor nuisance? Let them know you can no longer work with them because (reasons... just kidding) you're "running low on time."

Are your client's issues a bit more than minor? Choose between the former tactic or the classic cold shoulder.

Is your client downright toxic? Post whatever content you've provided them up until that point on your own site (verify they haven't used it yet) and refund any money you've earned from them for said content. Then pull that shoulder out of the freezer and feed them a healthy serving.

I hope this information comes in handy.

Above all else, please remember that prevention is better than any cure!

Weed out garbage clients before you get in bed with them and you'll be well on your way to far more fulfilling work. Thanks for reading!


This article may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!