6 Reasons Why I Don’t Want To Be Your Freelancer

posted in: Freelancing | 17

6 Reasons Why I Don't Want To Be Your Freelancer
Recently, I came across a prospective client who painfully reminded me of another prospect I’ve had a pleasure to deal with in my first year of freelancing.

Like other freelancers, I’ve head my share of not so great clients but this one I thankfully didn’t get involved with because there were just too many red flags raised. In the end, she was surprised that I didn’t “fight” to get her project.

I’m sure every freelancer will be able to relate.

Red Flag #1

I called you because your price is great.

That’s so cool. We beginning freelancers want to be reminded that we work for free. Great motivator and confidence booster. And yes, we do that for a chance to work with people who pick us not because we offer a great service but because we give it away for close to nothing. Busted!

Red Flag #2

I only need a basic website. It will probably be 5 pages at most. Let’s see: home page, list of services, testimonials, pricing, oh I want to break the services down into 6 categories, one per page. I will probably need a blog too, I don’t know yet. I hear that you need a blog these days.

Lovely. I’ll be ready to provide an estimate whenever you are ready. You keep wasting my time – I love aimless phone conversations. And sure, that estimate is going to hold, since I have confidence you will not be making any drastic changes mid-project.

Red Flag #3

I don’t want an extravagant design, just something simple that pops and looks very, very professional since I will have high-profile clientele. Oh, can you do one design and just build two websites? Will that cost extra?

Nooooo, are you kidding?! Typically more work means more pay for me but I’ll make an exception for you, because we’re friends now!

Red Flag #4

I’ve spent a fortune on the logo and it’s awesome. I just don’t have much money left now.

Ouch. Well, if your website looks like crap (since you’re paying crap) your awesome logo will stand out even more. Win!

Red Flag #5

I know it’s been a month since you quoted me but I have few more questions. Can you call me?

Sure, I’ll call you. It’s not like this project is going anywhere, but I’d love to catch up. It’s been a while, yo.

Red Flag #6

Budget? I could ask my dad for some money but I want to show him that I can do this on my own, so you know, I have like $1000 tops.

$1000 for two CMS sites? Sure, I know you can do it… just not with me.

All right! I can’t do this any more. Wake up, wake up…

Bonus quote!

This one is from another client that I just had to include.

I can only spend $40 on a logo.

Well, then maybe you should check with Johnny next door. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to make some money before the school starts. Aghrr…

That’s a wrap!

Every freelancer must go through this. I’m just glad I can spot those ready to waste my time and energy from far away now. Sanity and dignity intact!

Want to share your best stories/quotes?

17 Responses

  1. Excellent post! This is basically why I quit being a freelancer and became a writer! People just accept your art instead of trying to change it every two seconds. Quote: “Hang on, I want my niece to see this…”

  2. Joanna,
    Love the red flags!! We all need to be more aware of the red flags and take on the clients that really fit what we do!!
    This was a great post!


    Take Your Life from ordinary to Extraordinary!

  3. Joanna,

    That was very entertaining and factual.
    I feel the same way with some clients.

    The best one for me is “I am good at visualizing stuff but can’t draw a straight line.
    You are good at drawing. Can you help me?”

    My advice … run as fast as you can !


  4. Thank you guys for your comments. Screening your clients is very important – it’s something all freelancers have to constantly do and be vigilant about. Only recently I’ve started being more assertive when it comes to picking who I work with. Less headache, more confidence in your skills. WIN.

  5. Terrific post and very entertaining! I’ve been freelancing for 8 years and still miss the red flags at times. Now I have them in one handy list! In 2010 I’m working toward more clarity in my business and business decisions, and having a list of red flags like this gives me the motivation to start one of my own. Funny I never thought of writing them all down before. Thank you!!

  6. So friggin true!..I just had a recent client who tried to pull getting more work for what wasn’t originally discussed..It’s so aggravating sometimes the level of unappreciation. You don’t walk out of any store or service without paying for it in full first, what makes people think they can do the same with design?

    I also don’t get why people always tell their lil confessions about money to designers lol..

  7. It’s so nice to commiserate with others who have felt the pain and agony of the nightmare client. It took me a while to realize that firing a client is an option! I recently had one that stated that my copy was “full of” grammatical errors. I was horrified (of course) and asked the client to please point them out. My shock and horror grew as this person “corrected” my grammar. Suffice it to say that this person’s first language wasn’t English and the edits made no sense at all. This was a HUGE red flag.

  8. Great post and I really like the guides as well.

  9. Ha, ha, ha! I bet that felt good to vent! Some clients are not worth it. I love the one about spending all the money on the logo and having none left.

  10. Thanks for the laughs. The sad part? It is all so true.

  11. Brilliant stuff… Its amazing what some people expect from us sometimes.

  12. Ya… it is part of freelancer’s life.

  13. Lime-light Shel

    My favorite client is the one that comes in with the chicken scratch logo made in PAINT! asking for a website that looks elegant and calming. I even offered to make a new logo that resembled theirs for free and they decided to stick with the one they had. I decided to let them stick with the website they had and end communications. Who turns down an upgrade!?

  14. They don’t teach this college do they Joanna? In 25 years in this business I can’t say a month goes by without a phone call or meeting where you just know to trust your instincts. A great post, and like everyone, it’s hard to get used to this dilemma. Laughter is a good way of ridding you anger and bad clients. They hate laughter.
    Kind regards

  15. I totally agree with your list. Actually i could add 10 more red flags based on my 10+ years experience.
    There is this short video on youtube, it totally explain the situation of a graphic designer, hilarious and sadly true.


    enjoy it!

  16. Oh. My. Gods. Sooooo Familiar…

    “just something simple that pops and looks very, very professional …”

    Eeeeee.. the dreaded “pops” word… FLEE!

    But the one that had me crawling the walls was the client who’s every third word out of his mouth was FLASH, and wondered why building his site took three times as long as an HTML one… despite the dozen custom animations. *cringe*

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