Freelance Writing Clients I Hate

I'm a relatively young freelancer compared to a lot of you out there. I haven't been "in the game" that long and I'm not as "hip to the lingo" as most of you have been. I don't "make a lot of money" which seems to be really trendy nowadays nor do I "have the ability to pay for groceries" when I'm feeling lazy and don't pump out some work. Whatever. Don't judge me.

Have you noticed these types of clients?

The Talker - oh god, the talker. This is the client that wants to discuss everything. He wants to talk about your craft. He's genuinely interested in what you're doing. He likes to do phone conferences. He likes to send long emails with lots of notes but not a dang thing to actually do with what you're doing. You know way more about him than you ever thought possible about another human being. He may or may not own several cats.

El Mysterio - oh, she pays on time. And in full. And she's always prompt. But she's short on details and she sends emails from some sort of underground bunker or undisclosed location. If you get something wrong, you'll feel it. If you get it right, you'll never know it. Screw up too much, though, and you'll find yourself stripped to your civvies in a Guatemalan prison.

That hasn't happened to anyone else? Huh. Weird. I sort of thought that was the norm.

The First-Timer - nervous, twitchy, and afraid of doing it the wrong way, a client who has never hired a freelancer does everything wrong and as awkwardly as possible. They're terrified of being ripped off but will gladly accept at face value anything you say.

"It's pretty standard to lease a car for a freelancer," I said.

"Oh. Well, I hope that a Jaguar XJS is going to be enough!" he said. I laughed evilly as I revved the engine, pointing the hood of the car towards Las Vegas.

"It's necessary research," I said.

The Veteran - unlike the first-timer, this client cannot in any way, shape, or form be convinced of anything. Incredibly easy to work for but not very fun. Like clockwork, you get paid and find out about revisions in a timely manner. Reliable. Wouldn't even pay for my iPhone gold-dipped case.

The Dinosaur - I don't know if anyone else out there has a client like this, but I live in New York. For some reason, if I land a local client, they LOVE to meet in person. They tell me precisely everything that they could have told me in an email, and then I have to go all the way back home. Thank you for having me pay $5 for the trip plus $20 for a meal plus waste two hours of my time. I want to start charging these guys a PITA rate.

Mom/Best Friend - oh god never work for family/friends. Not only do they expect you to do the work for free anyway, but then they'll send gobs of emails about how they're NOT REALLY THAT PUSHY but they'd like to know if you are going to get done with their thing at some point in the near future because that would be OH SO KEEN and maybe you will get a nice meal out of this! There is a reason I no longer do resumes. Or call my parents.

Do you recognize any of these? Let me know in the comments below.

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Clint Osterholz is a freelance writer who thinks he's awfully funny, and is surprisingly not a disappointment to his parents. You're always free to check out his portfolio if you'd like someone to be funny, or maybe write something a little more serious. Subscribe to my posts (only posts from this author).

9 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Clients I Hate”

  1. Hah, I love this post, Clint!

    I’ve come across all of these types of clients, with the exception of ‘The Dinosaur’.

    The ‘El Mysterio’ types are the ones that give me the creeps. You never know how well-received your work is but you know if you make a mistake. Oh, you know.

    There have a lot of similarities to a Godfather, actually…

    My only worry is that I think I sometimes fall into the realms of ‘The Talker’ myself!!

  2. haha! Love it! The talker is the worst! I had a client like that. I ended up quitting her.

    El Mysterio is a close second. You never know what you’re doing right and you’re always afraid that they’re going to either fire you or just never email you again.

  3. So, Clint my boy, where exactly do I fall into that list? 😛

    @Dan — Oh yeah… you can be a talker. lol But you’re not that bad. I’ve had a few clients like that — you wouldn’t believe the kind of personal and family details I know about them (not by my choice). Ugh. You come across more as a combination of eager and personable — not a bad thing, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

  4. Good stuff, Clint. For me, the worst is when you encounter the devil-spawned Dinosaur-Talker: i.e., the client who insists on meeting in person AND endlessly blah blah blahing once you get there.

  5. hilarious! I would add not to work for friends either. Especially if you live in a low cost of living area. What strikes local people as expensive is fair game to my clients in other areas. So why bother with friends or locals? Take that, Michigan. (sorry, tangent)

  6. Oh yes, Clint, I know each and everyone of them. And some clients on the left coast think a f2f will improve things… touchy feely types? Well, no, but they seem to want to see me for some darn reason.

    And I dodge writing for family and friends too, now.

  7. I couldn’t agree more about not working with friends and family. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    Another type of bad client is the one who falls in love with the latest buzzword and wants you to ‘monetize’ or ‘do social media’ or ‘tweet’ or ‘add videos to my website’ or whatever it is that they just read about in the evening paper without understanding the first thing about it.

  8. I wrote for a bunch of El Mysterios last year. They turned out to be creative directors of a whole bunch of big ad agencies that got stumped and couldn’t crack the brief. 🙂

    And I’ll add my vote to the never writing for friends. Especially friends from church. Oh no. My family knows better than to waste my time making me write their stuff for peanuts when I could be writing for other people and making more though. (Except for my mother, that is. That woman thinks nothing of making me write her little ads and brochures. BY HAND. )

  9. OMGosh, Clint. Mom/Best Friend is an absolute home-run. Keep those backyard barbecues, pool parties and get-togethers where they belong and OUT of the office (where they don’t).

    Daniel Bartel


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