How to Spot a Time Wasting Client before You Break a Deal

As a professional content writer who is madly in love with his job, you hate the idea of wasting time and valuable food for thought while trying to win pitch work. Sometimes you blame yourself for your lack of success; other times, you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you or your work, and feel like you’ve been double-crossed by a potential client whose only goal in life was to drain the life out of you for no obvious reason.

Avoid the Sisyphus Effect by Ceasing Collaborations with Time-Wasting Clients

Whether you’ve had your dreams shattered by a demanding Joe who always wants more than he is willing to pay for, or have had the misfortune to stumble across an indecisive Jane who wants you to follow this path, then take a completely different road to content creation success, then change strategies a few more times until you finally set your own brain on fire and reach a predictable dead end, the truth is that all these unproductive encounters with such potential clients are going to cost you money, time, and beautiful life experiences.

We’ve all been down this road. It’s not pleasant. So what do you do avoid getting sucked into a toxic relationship with a client that will inevitably waste your time?

5 Steps to Follow to Make Sure That No Bad Client Will Waste Your Time and Energy Ever Again

Here’s what we advise you to do in this situation: pick up the pieces of your broken ego off the floor, admit your mistake, and learn how to spot a time-wasting client before actually allowing him or her to bring you down, and put your valuable resources on the line for no legitimate reason. Just to make sure you’ll never lose a wink of sleep over a dreadful prospect ever again, apply the following writer’s tips before signing with a potentially problematic client.

  1. Go Deep with Your Prospects. Start by getting to know your clients. When it comes to accepting bigger or more complex projects, always consider scheduling a face-to-face meeting that would enable you to become familiar with all potential clients, and make sure you are on the same page. When in-person meetings are not an option, make use of lifesaving communication tools (free or paid), designed to bridge the gap between service providers and clients or remote employees, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Ring Central or Basecamp.

  2. Get in Touch with People Who Have Already Worked with/for Your Potential Client. As a professional content creator, you already know that in-depth research always pays off, no? So in this case, why not play private investigator and find out a thing or two about your potential clients before agreeing to get involved in their projects? While most prospects may be reluctant to give out information about their previous collaborators, remember that the Internet has a memory like an elephant. One simple Google search can offer you the contact information of other freelancers/agencies that have been in contact with the client seeking your help with a new project. At the end of the day, lifesaving details related to the background of a potential customer may be just one call or click away.

  3. Become Familiar with the Most Common Bad Client Typologies. In a previous post, we have presented a series of the most common (and sometimes puzzling) client personalities. Some of them are harmless, yet somewhat annoying- just imagine that you would have to answer 10,000 different questions emailed by curious George while working a million other things; or think about the fact that you would have to deal with Know-It-All Netty who has a billion awesome ideas (always so much better than yours) and could always teach you a thing or two about how to do your job. What do these clients have in common? Sometimes, all of them could make you waste time. Fortunately, there are a few writers’ tips that you can apply to avoid this scenario.

  4. Make sure your business terms are compatible with the ones of your potential client

  5. Discuss important aspects such as rates, project deadlines, revision policies and so on before taking on a new assignment

  6. Let your prospects know when (and how) they could reach you to discuss various aspects related to their project

  7. Get everything in writing to avoid any potential customer complains

  8. Go with Your Gut. Sometimes, freelance writers cannot spot warning flags because they insist on using them as blindfolds. Maybe they need the money really bad, wish to add a certain important collaboration to their resumes and portfolios, or just miss writing about a topic revolving around their passions and interests.

While all these goals may contribute to your long or short-term satisfaction, they will almost never make up for your lost time and energy, especially when dealing with clients who don’t really know what they want, keep trying to lower your asking price, or are simply shopping around for cheap, recyclable content. In this situation, we advise you to trust your gut feeling. If a certain client seems difficult to work with from the very beginning, simply walk away and preserve your inner peace, time and energy for other important upcoming projects.

  1. Become Acquainted with the Terms of a Polite Breakup. Assuming that you have already started working for a certain client whose attitude/working method/vision is totally incompatible with yours, what should you do before running for the hills? If you wish to terminate a collaboration that no longer serves you, start by becoming familiar with the particularities of a civilized breakup. Stay calm, polite and honest, and embrace the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach; by doing so, you could let time-wasting clients know they could find other content writing service providers that may be a better match for their companies.

At the end of the day, a great client is the one that pays well (and on time!), appreciates your work at its true value, and doesn’t stress you with a million pointless unnecessary questions and remarks. You can separate potential good clients from the ones who will only make your stress levels go through the roof as you waste time and dozens of amazing creative ideas, by simply researching all your prospects, and discussing your offers and expectations before drafting and signing a contract. What kind of writers’ insight would you offer to a freelancer striving to avoid time-wasting clients? Let us know in a comment below.

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