If you’re new to taking on clients or haven’t had a tonne of experience with clients you might not be aware of of some of the signs that a client is going to be a bad client a few weeks down the track. Read on and check to see if that new client you’re considering taking on is going to be a dream client or a living nightmare.

1. Micro managers

This is one of the worst attributes a client can have.

Similar to having a boss who’s always hovering over your shoulder and essentially not trusting you to do your job properly. They don’t trust you as the expert and you’ll begin to start resenting the job because you’re just waiting for someone else to tell you where to move the needle and you won’t have autonomy or motivation to contribute to the project in a meaningful or effective way. You’ll start to wonder why they hired you in the first place. This is especially relevant if you’re a technician in any way – like a graphic designer, VA, copywriter or something similar.

Here’s a few examples of how this might look:

You get an email detailing exactly what they want the project to look like before you’ve even discussed the goal and what they’re trying to achieve. The problem with this is that since you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve you might be delivering a solution that isn’t right – which won’t lead to any success on the clients part and won’t lead to any good referrals and repeat business.

  • They focus on low priority changes and activities.
  • They don’t ask you for your advice (why did they hire you in the first place?)
  • They tell you about countless people they’ve hired before haven’t worked out

Do they take forever to get back to you? Do they say they’re ‘busy’ all the time? Do they appear unfocused? Do they lack a big picture vision?

2. Price shoppers

Price shoppers will compare you to other vendors with price alone versus the value and skill you bring to the table.

Price shoppers can be pretty easy to spot but here are some examples of how this might come across:

  • They ask blatantly for a discount
  • They want your hourly rate when you’ve already given them a price for the project as a whole
  • They’ve come to you with a price in mind already, even though it’s not what you charge – it may be because they were referred by a friend or family member who you gave mates-rates and they told the new client those rates so they’re expecting the same

3. No boundaries

They call you at 10.30 at night or expect you to work over the weekend even though they came to you with requests late on a Friday evening.

Either you’re charging a premium for this service, or in reality they can wait till Monday or whenever you’ve scheduled time for them. Usually, as soon as you mention there’s a rush fee or premium price for work outside of your working hours most clients will be happy to wait instead of paying the fee. Mostly it’s up to you to keep these boundaries in place and be firm about them, and if the client doesn’t respect your boundaries you can probably drop them to open up more space in your calendar for those who DO respect you.

4. Big egos

If they want you to prove yourself.

Most of what they’re saying and doing is puffing themselves up and they’ve said they have a big budget but in reality they don’t, and they might not actually have the budget they say they do. This is dishonest.

When you speak to someone who has a big ego in life it can be hard to discuss certain topics since you don’t know what facade they’re using as a front, and it’s hard to get to the truth. Are they true business people who want the results and aren’t just puffin themselves up for the sake of ego?

They use external factors like their car, their muscles, their money and stuff to provide a front, which is really all just bravado.

In business big egos are hard to manoeuvre around since you don’t know what will set of their emotional reaction and make it hard for you to do your job and get the desired outcome for the project.

5. You don’t know what their goal for the project is

If a client can’t tell you what their goal for the project or collaboration is, it will be fairly pointless to do the job.

Some people have come to me wanting a Facebook page or a Website and not knowing why they need it or want it.

They might say something like:

Client: “I need a Facebook page.”

You: “Why do you think you need one?”

Client: “Because everyone has one.”

You: “Who will be managing and posting content on the page?”

Client: “I don’t know. I just need one for the online presence.”

There’s no point in the client spending money on something they think they need but it’s your job to make sure they need it. Don’t be a yes man and deliver it just because they said they need it, as some questions and make sure before you waste your time on a project that won’t help them see any results and you won’t be able to use it as a client success story in the future either.

Do you have any client red flags you’ve come across? Let us know in the comments!



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