Finding Freelance Work: How to Deal with “Difficult” Clients

Every freelancer dreads this client – they are never satisfied, they come up with new project specifications shortly before the deadline and they refuse to make a payment until all of their needs are addressed. Difficult clients tend to be a tremendous nightmare and an emotionally draining experience that is often not worth the effort.

Many beginners in the world of freelancing who are eager to find freelance work will put up with such clients. In certain instances, this kind of patience will be justified. In other situations, the work with a difficult freelance client will simply lead to the waste of time.

Are you struggling with this kind of situation? Here is everything that you need to know about working with freelance clients and protecting your professional rights.

How is a Difficult Client Different from a Picky One?

Some clients are picky but they have reasonable requirements. Here are several characteristics of the difficult client that every freelancer should be familiar with:

  • A difficult client will always turn down your ideas or require modifications
  • That client will let you know right from the start that he or she is in charge
  • Communication will tend to be one-sided
  • You will get requests for revisions after all of the project specifications have been clarified
  • There will be no response to questions in a timely manner
  • The client will tend to undervalue your work and put you down
  • Complaints will come every step of the way
  • This client may try to decrease the price of the project in the very end

It sounds like a real nightmare and it can be one! A difficult client will make you lose a lot of time that you could potentially be dedicating to something more productive. The worst part of working with this individual is that the final payment is not guaranteed, even if you do a dozen revisions and you agree with each new requirement.

When to Avoid Freelance Work Opportunities

When looking for freelance work through websites like Odesk, you will need to pay attention to the rating of clients.

The rating and the feedback provided by others will reveal a lot of information about what interactions will be like and whether you will get your payment in the end. If numerous freelancers experienced similar problems with that individual, it will be wisest to avoid them,

When looking for clients in other ways, you will find it a bit trickier to figure out what is going on. Think about the possible gains and the possible losses. If you are currently overbooked, you may consider avoiding such a client. When learning how to make money online, you need to prioritize and make wise use of the available time.

The Importance of Documenting All Your Communication with Difficult Clients

Difficult clients will often change the rules and the requirements of working together. They will make up claims and tell you that you agreed on something that has never been discussed. This is why you need to document everything connected to your freelance work.

Instead of talking about it on the phone, send your client emails with all proposals and request confirmations or modification suggestions to be provided via email, as well. If you use instant messaging opportunities like Skype, record history and save all of the communication logs.

Having evidence about the agreed-upon arrangements will save you a lot of time and help you prove that you are right. Be polite but firm when it comes to discussing work conditions and providing evidence.

You have the Right to Disagree

Though being polite and professional is essential for finding freelance work and making money online, you have the right to disagree with clients. This is an aspect of doing the job that many newbies feel uncomfortable with.

Agreeing with everything that a difficult client requires will “fuel” their anger and make them impossible to cope with. Set the boundaries and when requests go beyond the reasonable, do your best to stand your ground.

Suggest adequate solutions for reasonable requests and provide evidence about the most illogical ones.

The customer is not always right. You are the professional that has the know-how and the experience. Explain to customers why meeting a specific request is impossible and let them decide how they want to proceed from this point on. The majority of difficult clients will agree with you because starting from scratch with somebody else is going to be costly and challenging for such clients, as well.

Professional Disagreement or Personality Clash?

Do your best to distinguish between having to deal with a difficult client and experiencing a personality clash.

When looking for freelance work online, you have to set your personal preferences aside. You will be forced to work with individuals that you will probably avoid in real life. This doesn’t mean a client is being difficult. It simply means that your attitude is negative right from the start, which contributes to conflict.

Putting anger and disagreements aside will be tremendously important. Maintain the communication neutral and avoid confrontation. You will be surprised by the outcome of such interactions.

When is It Acceptable to “Fire” Difficult Clients?

The worst case scenario involves putting an end to your interactions with a particular client. When is it time to fire a client? Here are several clues and scenarios:

  • You run a business rather than a charity. If you are losing money, you can fire a client
  • A client is being abusive or excessively aggressive
  • Clients make you lose focus and ask for a range of services/adjustments that have nothing to do with your specialization
  • A client that wants to get something from nothing
  • A client that wastes your time by going into excessive details about irrelevant things
  • Consistently late payers should be fired immediately

Finding freelance work and maintaining relationships with clients can be really challenging. As you gain more experience, you will become more capable of drawing the line. Some difficult clients can be appeased and the interactions with such professionals will actually turn up to be productive. In other instances, firing the client will be the only option. Do a bit of analysis and figure out what you are getting from such interactions to make the best decision.

Are you looking for other freelance work strategies? Just getting started in the field? How to Make Money Online: The Secrets of Starting Your Own Web-Based Business is the book that can give you all of the answers. Learn more about it here or buy the book from Amazon.

Photo courtesy of photoxpress.com, author: Adam Borkowski

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