What’s the biggest new-client red flag?

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Dr. Freelance: I’m wondering what you think the single biggest new-client red flag is when you’re meeting with a prospective client?—Just Curious

Just Curious: If you work long enough in this business, you’ll find that there’s a whole United Nations’ worth of ’em. A new-client red flag could be foot-dragging on returning calls or emails, pushing off meeting times, not sending materials for your review before asking for an estimate, prying endlessly for information and ideas without agreeing to anything concrete, poor experiences with prior freelancers…

But forced to choose just one, I think I’d say, “An inordinate focus on money.” There’s a huge difference between someone who’s negotiating for his or her money’s worth, which is simply smart business, and someone who’s going to be Mr. Slowpaynopay. In general, if a person…

  • balks at any kind of a downpayment, particularly on a big project
  • talks openly about not having much of a budget
  • raises eyebrows or otherwise questions/reacts when you explain your rates
  • promises “just work with me on this one and they’ll be tons of jobs down the road”

…the new-client red flag is flying at least half-mast, if not proudly waving in the breeze.

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    • Dr. Freelance says

      Thanks for dropping by, Cristina. Please feel welcome to suggest a question–the more the merrier!