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Working for a client: What should freelancers be wary of

You’ve finally found your first client. Now you’re eager to get things underway and put your mind on the job. Or maybe you’ve been doing this for a while now. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional veteran or if you’re starting today. Chances are, you’ll run into some clients that will send you running. And worst of all, you won’t even see it coming.

Remember the saying, “The customer is always right”? Well, sometimes they’re not. You may justify that the client is paying good money for your service. Let’s face it, a lack of clients means you don’t get food on the table. However, these clients can lead to stress and health issues down the road.

However, if you sleep well after dealing with these people, then congratulations. You’re a unique person and may not need this blog.

Now for most of us, we need to take precautions. To protect our freelancing careers, we need to be constantly wary. Here are some of the “red flags” you need to watch out for in dealing with your clients.

They compare you 

There’s something inhumane in “human” that pushes most of us to compare ourselves and others. These clients will constantly compare you to others to gain something. “We had a freelancer who did two jobs for your rate” or ” We can find ten more like you on Fiverr”. 

These clients tend to forget that YOU bring unique value. You deliver your qualities, talents, and views to the job. If what they’re asking for requires a YOU type of persona, they’ll likely fail to fulfill expectations if they don’t hire you. You’ll know that these clients lack a perspective view in the long run.

They expect you to be on-call 24/7

Does the word “free” in freelancers mean anything? It should because they hired you to do work on your own time. As long everything is delivered naturally. 

Many freelancers want to escape fixed employment hours, hence why they started. You may want to spend more time with your family/friends or are on the other end of the world. It doesn’t matter. Clients need to know that sometimes freelancers won’t be available during their business hours.

They try to create their terms

If you’re discussing payment with your client and hear “outside” or “between us” you should terminate communication. If you’re working on a freelance platform there are regulations in place regarding payment. So your client might suggest they employ you off the books. They might even say they will do you a favor to save money.

Well, there are regulations for third-party services made to protect freelancers in case of disputes. Not only do you risk not getting paid, but you also risk losing your status on freelance platforms.

However, watch out for bad clients even when working on platforms. These will likely avoid signing a contract so that they won’t be held accountable. Always make sure you are legally protected. Write your services, payments, approvals, and so on. White and black should be your favorite colors in your career. And (digital) paper, your best friend.

Clients that ask you to work an unpaid trial period

Can we stop being treated like we’ve just arrived in this world? We offer our services, but our most valuable asset is time (we essentially earn per hour). Freelancers may be working for three different clients at the same time. So why should they work for free just for that client? 

Freelancers are people too and have expenses. And most are not too keen on having their talents underappreciated. 

Don’t let the promise of future collaboration lure you. All you’ll do is learn a few bad practices.  

There are many more red flags to watch out for in your career. Stay alert and always value yourself.

Let’s finish this on a positive note. There are many fantastic clients out there. Many will appreciate you and recommend you to others. You’ll be thrilled to work for them and help them grow. And now that you know what to watch out for, you’ll be even happier in your freelance career.

Still haven’t started a career in freelance? Check out the top 5 freelancing jobs you can start to work today!

Filip Dzhambazoski

Filip Dzambazoski works as Marketing & Communications Assistant at Impact Foundation. Filip's completed his branch of studies in Law but is passionate about exploring new fields and expanding his knowledge. For him, "Realizing your passion by helping others find theirs" directly correlates to the way we should shape today's leaders into the future decision-makers.