When you're starting out as a freelancer and haven't quite found your feet, it's tempting to say yes to any work that comes your way. You'll soon discover, though, that it pays to discriminate a little.
Disqualifying clients who don't seem like a good fit for you should be one of your first priorities when you meet a potential client. You save the time and energy that you would spend learning about the client and their business.
As a result, that time and energy can be spent finding better clients and bigger pay cheques.
To help you spot a client who isn't a good fit, we've put together this list. You should say no if the client does one of the following 10 things:
- Requests free work, work 'for exposure', or any other type of work that doesn't provide value to you.
- Asks for an impossible solution, product or asset.
- Requests for you to work below your normal rate.
- Offers to pay in the form of project proceeds or other services.
- Keeps expanding the scope of the work without extra pay.
- Wants you to work on areas outside of your expertise.
- Owes you money.
- Has unclear objectives.
- Has unethical or illegal requests.
- Is uncomfortable signing a contract.
Also, if your gut is telling you not to go with a particular client, listen to it.
In general, you should pursue work that you want to do more of. If the client, industry, or style of work doesn't interest you, it's a problem. The resulting portfolio piece, case study or referrals will lose relevancy if you drift in a different direction, so always ensure you are properly qualifying your clients.