Signs of a Less Than Perfect Client

I’ve been applying for freelance writing jobs as an independent contractor for over a year now. In this time, I have come to recognize some reoccurring signs of less than desirable clients. I’m not talking about what is written in the job ad, although sometimes that in itself can be a telling sign. What I’m talking about is what happens between when you apply for the job and then start working with the client for pay. Usually there is a certain amount of back and forth emails and phone calls before you actually start to work. This can be very telling of the type of client that you have on your hands. From my experiences, here is what I’ve learned and hopefully it will help you avoid the less than perfect clients out there.

Unorganized
If a client comes off as unorganized from the beginning, then chances are they will be unorganized for the duration of your working relationship. For example, I once had someone email me about a job. They gave me a list of their writing needs and asked me what experience I had. Fair enough. I sent them a detailed email back including what I could do for them and samples of my work that related to the work they were needing done. The next day they called me and we had a chat about those same experiences and I was told a decision would be made in the next few days. I followed up our phone conversation with an email thanking them for their interest and highlighting my interest in working with them. Then things got a little weird. I received another email from the client a few days later asking me what I had experience writing and asking if we could have a phone conversation about it. I sent them another detailed email and offered to speak to them over the phone again. They never called. A week later, way after they had originally said they would make a decision, I received another email asking for the same information. At this point I caught on – they were highly unorganized. I decided that I didn’t have the patience or time to enter into a working relationship like this and nicely let them know that I was no longer interested in the work. While some clients do make occasional mistakes and mix-ups with writers, right off the bat and repeatedly seemed like a bad sign to me.

No Contract
Another sign of a potentially bad client is when they don’t have a contract or want to sign yours. In another example I applied for a project that seemed perfect for me. It was right along the lines of what I write and the pay was good. After a few emails I had a phone conference with the client. It became apparent that they would not be giving me a contract to sign even though they claimed to work with many different writers. I thought, okay maybe the writers they work with just give them their contract. So I asked them if they would be willing to sign my contract. They gave me a roundabout answer that ended up being they don’t sign contracts. Um, red flag – no thanks. I abruptly ended that conversation.

Pushing for Work
A final reoccurring sign of a potentially bad client is where they just jump right in and start demanding work without working out the finer details such as pay. In responding to one ad for an editor, I asked several questions and for specifics of the project. In the response email I received I didn’t get a single one of my questions answered. Instead the potential client sent me several projects with instructions. I emailed them back to ask what the pay rate was, if they would sign a contract, how much work a week the project would take, etc. In response, they emailed me that they needed my first project the following day. They still didn’t answer any of my questions. Needless to say I felt justified in telling them I wouldn’t be taking on the work.

Have you encountered any of these types of clients? What did you do about it? What signs do you think indicate a less than perfect client?

Got Karma?

Karma as defined by Dictionary.com means an action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, either good or bad.

I’ve been thinking a lot about karma lately. It all started over Thanksgiving weekend. We were visiting my in-laws and someone in the family had just won money off of a scratch off lottery ticket – not millions or anything like that, but a couple hundred. Everyone was making fun of him because after he won, he proceeded to tip very, very generously at the bar. In response to everyone making fun of him, he shrugged and said winning is all about good karma.

Along the same lines, my in-laws are
avid gamblers. They regularly visit casinos and they nearly as often win, which they then proceed to share their winnings generously with family. Quite often my husband and I will get a random check in the mail because they wanted to share their latest winnings with us. This has lead me to put a lot of thought into how some people seem to be so lucky, they just have that “good karma” thing going on. I want good karma.

Even my husband is fairly lucky. Unfortunately, not in the lottery sense, but he always manages to get promoted while others are being let go and things always seem to go his way when he needs them to. I’ve studied my husband for long enough to realize that good things happen to him because he is a good person. He never has anything bad to say about anyone, he is always willing to help someone in need and in general he is very accepting and kind to everyone. He gets this from his family. The reason for their luck comes down to the fact that they are just such good and nice people. When they are in a bind, people really are willing to help them out, when they want to play the lottery, the universe smiles on them because it knows that half of it will end up in the pockets of someone who needs it more.

I’ve been trying to apply good karma to my writing life. I volunteer on committees. I offer to help friends and family with things like their resumes free of charge. I go the extra mile for all of my clients. I try to offer what advice I have to give to help other writers. And, I have to say that getting clients, getting referrals and keeping clients has come way easier to me than I ever thought it would. Could this be karma? I don’t know, maybe I do have good karma after all. What is your experience with karma and the powers that be?