• Steven Westwood

5 Qualities You Should Look For In A Client

A business partnership is a lot like a marriage - your partnership will have lasting effects on both you and your clients for years to come. Bad clients will be memorable, miserable and affect your health. You need to avoid them at all costs.

When you're first starting out as a freelancer or entrepreneur, it's easy to confuse paying your dues with accepting any job that comes your way. This is not how you succeed in business, and like any good marriage, it takes hard work and time to be successful. Find out how to find clients as a freelancer here.

Here is my countdown to five qualities you should be looking for in your clients.

1. Clients Should Have A Realistic Budget

Chances are, your client is clueless about how much your services actually cost. I'm often asked how much I charge per word. I don't work like that and neither should you. This reduces the service I provide to just what's produced, and doesn't take into consideration the research, testing, and results that my work provides their company.

In my post How To Hire a Freelancer In 7 Easy Steps, I outline how clients and businesses can research costs for services. Good clients will understand the necessity of your services for their business, and understand that it's an investment to increase sales. Bad clients are likely to focus on what they spend - meaning that they'll attempt to haggle on the price.

See haggling as the HUGE red flag it is and move on. It's perfectly natural for people to have a What's in it for me (WIIFM) mentality. But good clients will understand that we're there to help solve their problems and increase their Return on Investment (ROI). As long as what you're providing gives value to your clients, you'll always get good clients.

2. Good Clients Value Experts

Good clients want experts to provide them with services. Their biggest fear is choosing the wrong person to complete the job. Prove you're the right person and you'll be hired in no time. A bad client will focus solely on cost and will want the work done cheaply as possible. They also expect the most and will be very demanding.

I have experienced clients like this, where they want high-quality work for little pay, but also expect you to be there at the drop of a hat and give in to their demands and changes to the brief. My solution: get rid of them asap. It doesn't matter that they hired you, you are not an employee, not their property, and you have the right to refuse service. I have given refunds and refused to work with former clients over situations like this.

It's quite obvious that a lot of businesses don't fully grasp what their customers are getting from them. They have developed a letterbox view of their business, and hone in on what they think. A good client will listen to your advice and understand that the only opinion that actually matters is their current customers.

I get it though, they've invested heavily in their business, and it's their baby, but a good client gladly welcomes advice to better improve their marketing, systems, and processes. As an example, I had a different client that focused so heavily on one small aspect of their services that they were changing reviews to match what their perception was (a big no-no in marketing). When I showed them that all of their customers were talking about a different aspect, maybe they needed to listen to what they were being told. Within a month of using this knowledge, they increased sales by 227%.

3. A Good Client Will Work With You

This one is pretty straightforward; a good client will be easy to communicate with. You'll be able to set milestones, have discussions about the direction of the project, brainstorm ideas with, and will provide feedback on time. This last part is important to complete the project correctly so that everyone is happy. You are a TEAM.

On the other hand, a bad client will either:

A) be impossible to arrange a meeting with, take too long to respond to messages and leave you waiting for ages, resulting in the inevitable missing of the deadline.

B) constantly message you to the point it's harassing, give you a nearly impossible deadline - sometimes less than 24 hours turnaround, or micromanage the project to the point that the final product is not the same as they agreed on terms.

Either of these situations results in one thing: you never want to work with that person again, and something you don't want to use in your portfolio. These type of clients are also likely to change all of your work themselves, despite you being an expert in your field, it's their business and ultimately their decision - get paid and walk away.

4. Good Clients Pay The Agreed Amount On Time

There is nothing more frustrating than having to chase clients for payments. More often than not, you'll be paid on time. However, as a beginner, you may fall foul of a scammer, someone hires you to do work for them and then ghosts you once it's complete. Do not be too disheartened, and certainly don't let it stop you - it's happened to us all at some point.

Instead, use this experience to get paid upfront (either in full or 50% deposit). This way, you've been paid something to build trust. You'll develop the ability to identify bad clients more easily. It comes with practice, and once you can spot them, it becomes easier to avoid those clients.

5. Good Clients Build Trust 

The best clients will spend time getting to know you; they'll also trust you to hold up your end of the deal. They will not only be easy to talk to but will actively listen and take your advice on-board. Once you've established this relationship, they will come to you time and again. Moreover, they'll recommend new clients to you.

The best relationship a client and a firm can have is a trusting relationship. The client needs to take on a firm that he has received good references for and has good chemistry with. Once that firm has been hired, give them your trust. Don't doubt them. Enable them to do their job in the best way possible and they will. That's what you hired them for.

What are your favourite/worst traits in clients? Let me know in the comments

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