Red Flags to Avoid in Freelancing

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Red flags! When you’re starting as a freelancer, turning down clients may feel like flushing money down the drain. It’s not something you want but it’s something you’ll have to do. 

A client that will cause you major headaches is one to avoid for example. Interestingly, you can spot them from a mile away using red flags. If you can pinpoint these red flags, you can avoid working with such people and save yourself any unnecessary heartache. 

What are Red Flags?

Red flags in freelancing are warning signs that you discover during negotiations with a client about a future collaboration. They are the first signs that the working relationship will likely turn sour if it goes on.

The truth is that not every client is made for you. You want to make sure you’re getting clients who value your time and expertise, and not just those who want to use you. 

Red Flags to Watch Out for In Freelancing


The next time you’re onboarding a client, keep these red flags in mind.

  • Has Unclear Expectations

The first thing you should do when you meet a client is to get the essential details about the business and project. But, once in a while, you’ll meet a client who won’t specify what their interests or expectations are. Unfortunately, you can’t meet expectations you don’t know a client has. Usually, those jobs end up causing friction between both parties. If you ask for a full brief and the client is unwilling to give one, avoid the client.

  • Doesn’t Understand What You Do

A client who doesn’t understand what you do as a freelancer is unlikely to ascribe enough value to it and pay you accordingly. This is a significant problem and if you cannot get them to understand what you do (and its importance), you should prepare to be undervalued. Otherwise, you may want to avoid such a client.

  • Asks for Free Samples

It is understandable if a client asks for a free sample because you don’t have a portfolio. However, where you already have one, your portfolio already captures what your skill and expertise are. In such a case, a free sample is unnecessary. If the client goes ahead to ask, know that they are likely going to use or modify your work without getting your consent and paying for it.

  • Wants you to work outside the freelancing platform

If you connect with a potential client on a freelance platform like Fiverr or Upwork and they immediately want you to take your conversation off the platform, that’s a dangerous sign. Even when they suggest that it is to save you money, don’t be quick to fall for it. Chances are high that you may not get paid since there is no Escrow payment.

  • Compares You to Others

Most clients that do this play on your psychology so you can lower your prices. They’ll also make the comparison so that they can make unreasonable offers for your services. If the client is always talking about some other freelancer they have worked with or a freelancer where they can get better expertise for less, avoid them.

Stay Aware

Wanting to build a freelance career from scratch is a teeny weeny little bit tough. Finding clients and training them will help make the process easier in the long run. Please, stay aware so you don’t lose money while attempting to make money.

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