Freelance Copywriting Tip – How to spot a bad client in 60 seconds



10. Wants to know your fee BEFORE seeing your work

9. Wants a quote before explaining scope of work

8. Keeps repeating ‘it’s a very simple job’ (NOT)

7. Asks you to meet his ‘committee’ or ‘board’ first

6. Says ‘Actually, I can do it myself’ if I have time

5. Says ‘Don’t worry about the money – we always pay’ – even if you haven’t expressed your worry

4. Reluctant to pay anything upfront or even on delivery – and mentions ‘if approved’

3. Wants multiple options but only wants to pay for one

2. Does not have content and asks you to look up other websites to get content

1. Asks you to call him back if you want his business – great clients call you first if they have seen and liked your work

Got more tips to spot evil clients? Share them in the comments! Are you a client who does this? Confess!

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  1. Or tells you that they can’t go ahead with the project because they don’t have that kind of budget (after telling you in their initial email that money is not an issue). LOL

  2. Dear Farrukh,
    You have hit it right on the spot.
    Indeed, if it is easy do it yourself.
    Indeed, if there is no worry about paying, then pay.
    Clients or not… these are great tips to live by when dealing in any business transaction. Slippery slopes can hurt if you do not see them coming.
    I have been on both sides of this coin, and I will keep this blog on hand when uncertain about a particular circumstance; ) Thank you. Bahareh

  3. Jan D'Sa

     /  April 2, 2012

    Fantastic blog post. 

  4. Asks you for free samples

  5. Chris

     /  January 8, 2011

    Thanks for this, Farrukh
    The abundance of writers plying their trade online gives clients a false of security: “…there’s plenty of ‘em out there…” Unfortunately, there are all too few clients who can separate the wheat from the chaff.

    •  Yes, Chris – well said. Unfortunately, plenty of writers selling a 100 words for a dollar. Sad state of affairs.

  6. Dear Farrukh,

    Bravo and Horray and general ‘That’ll teach ’em’ for this post. Love it when we normally modest and long suffering copywriters stick the boot in. Totaly empathise with the 10 Bad Client points above. However, I’ve an 11th:

    11. Quibbles over the fee when what you are doing as a copywriter is giving the client’s brand integrity, identity and customer friendly persausive power. Not bad for a competitive fee. How dare they quibble!

    Great work Farrukh.



    • Hey Steffen – the post is not so much to get back at clients but to help both freelancers and clients see the some obvious ways of NOT getting the best out of a copywriter or freelancer.

      Your 11th point is very valid – there are clients who recognise and value good copy (which is hard to find) – it’s great working with them. Then, there are those who don’t understand the difference between good and bad copy – these are the ones who come to writers saying ‘I want catchy lines’.

      For clients that have not worked with a professional or senior freelance copywriter before, more time is spent helping them understand a copywriter’s role and the best ways to work with him or her. Hopefully this post will also help a few clients figure out better ways of working with creative professionals and outsourced talent in general.


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