You’ve heard the warnings, red flags, and cautionary tales of working with “bad” clients, but what about the good ones?
How do you know when you’ve got a rock-star, kickass client on your hands that you better hold on tight to and never let go?
In this blog, I’m gonna talk about 5 client GREEN FLAGS. So you can tell the good ones from the bad ones, every single time.
Hey Posse! What’s up? It’s Alex.
Coming to you this week with a brand new tutorial that was inspired by a community member that I received a few months ago…
They were asking for tips on how to tell “good clients” from “bad clients” and what are some red flags to look out for. Now, I already have a tutorial where I talk about six red flags to watch out for when looking for a job as a freelancer…
But this request really got me thinking about this topic from a different perspective.
Because the truth is, not every “bad client” will be a “red flag client”.
And taking on a client simply because they didn’t display any red flags doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have a good – or even pleasant – working relationship with them…
So doesn’t it make more sense to spend your time identifying the GREEN FLAGS that clue you into when you’ve got a great client with long-lasting potential on your hands?
That’s a way better use of your time AND your energy, if you ask me.
And with over a decade in the industry, I’ve gotten pretty good at noticing the subtle signs of an amazing client.
So THAT is what we’re talking about today.
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Alright, now let’s jump right into GREEN FLAG #1…
#1. They’re Responsive
And not just when they need something from you.
From the very beginning, before you ever start working together – if they’re quick to respond to your emails and questions, then you probably have a great client on your hands.
Because plain and simple, it’s easier to work with clients that get back to you.
There’s nothing worse than waiting weeks for clarifications on scope. Or not hitting the deadline because you’re still waiting on the information you requested. Or not getting their notes and feedback back in time to finish revisions…
And in my experience, the clients that don’t respond to your messages in a timely manner, usually don’t pay invoices in a timely manner either.
So this is a huge one to look out for.
Now a quick disclaimer before we move on…
Business owners ARE very busy people. So don’t expect a response from anyone on the same day. Especially if you’re cold pitching them or are early in the stages of client acquisition.
In this case, I would say a reasonable and respectable timeline for a response from a potential client is about 3 business days…
And once you start working together, I would expect a quicker response time than that.
Alright, moving on to GREEN FLAG #2…
#2. They’re Respectful
Of your time AND your energy.
The best clients out there will ask you what your capacity is – before assigning you any big projects, setting unrealistic deadlines, or requesting a meeting with you 30 minutes from now.
They’re aware of the fact that they are not your only client and that you do, in fact, have other obligations and deadlines to meet besides theirs.
These clients will encourage you to take your weekends offline.
They won’t be sour or sassy if they message you on a Saturday and you don’t get back until Monday.
And probably the biggest green flag of all…
When you tell them you have a lot on your plate right now, they reach out wondering how they can help to lighten your load – or what they can do to better support you.
They don’t get angry, dismissive, or argumentative.
You see… the best clients are the best clients because of the way they treat you.
They recognize your humanity and treat you with respect, empathy, and understanding.
And not like some word-producing-robot that works on demand.
With that said…
If you tend to make a habit out of missing deadlines or continually coming up with excuses, it may lead to some frustration on their end with your performance.
And for good reason.
A good client can only respect your time and energy as long as you continue to respect theirs. So this one is a two-way street. Remember that.
Alright, on to GREEN FLAG #3…
#3. They Work With You On Payment & Prices
Good clients won’t waste anyone’s time with price haggling or ridiculous negotiations. They won’t try to “lowball” you or try to get the best “deal”.
And in my experience…
The best clients out there will accept your rates and fees without too much objection at all.
Because the best clients understand that good copy is well worth the investment.
And they’ll happily pay for the experience and talent of a copywriter who gets it.
And let’s be honest…
The clients that price haggle are almost never enjoyable to work with – because they usually just don’t understand copywriting.
They don’t understand its importance, nor its purpose.
So these are the clients that will argue with you on why you did this or why you did that or why they need 6 emails instead of just 1.
Now again, there are exceptions here…
Some businesses — usually the ones that are just getting started or are relatively small – genuinely can’t afford to pay high copywriting fees.
But that doesn’t make them a bad client.
So with this one, you’ll have to use your best judgement…
- Is the client asking you to lower your rates from a place of respect?
- Do you resonate strongly with their brand, mission & values?
If so, then it’s worth some negotiating to see if you can settle on a price you’ll both be happy with.
I’ve never had a problem lowering my rates slightly to help out a business that’s doing good things in the world, with a mission that I support and resonate with.
Alright now on to GREEN FLAG #4…
#4. They Don’t Expect Anything For Free
This one is two-fold…
A lot of clients tend to ask you to complete a “copy test” before hiring you.
Rather than just reading through the samples in your portfolio…
A copy test helps potential clients visualize how your skill will translate into their brand. How well you can capture their voice, etc. So this is a normal request.
But a good client won’t expect you to spend more than 15 mins of your time doing a test for free.
A GREAT client will offer to pay you a fair rate that’s equivalent to what you’d charge for it in real life.
Now that leads me to something freelancers are all too familiar with….
Sure – it’s nothing to get too worried about if a retainer client requests an additional ad or email every now and then…
But they shouldn’t make a habit out of it – or try to add a bunch of new responsibilities to your plate (and ahem, neither should you! Remember this works both ways).
This one actually goes back to Green Flag #2 – being respectful of your time.
If you and your client had agreed to a retainer rate for a certain amount of hours, assets, or a clear scope of work…
And they suddenly have the need for things outside of that scope…
Then they should first – have a conversation with you to see if you have the capacity to take on more…
And second – they renegotiate your rate to include the new, agreed-upon expectations.
Alright, now on the final, and probably most important, GREEN FLAG of all…. #5…
#5. They’re Prepared
They know what they want and have the materials and information you’ll need to complete the project.
Because we’ve all had that one client…
The one that says:
- “Oh I don’t care, just do whatever you think…”
- Or the one that sends over a brief with 5 different directions on it…
- Or the one that can’t answer any questions about what they’re looking for…
While creative freedom is nice to have, this level of unpreparedness and indecisiveness usually only means one thing for YOU, as the copywriter…
A shit load of revisions.
The client who isn’t clear on what they want usually signals plenty of frustrations and miscommunications lay ahead.
Whereas the client who knows exactly what they want, can communicate clearly with you, is able to answer your questions, and can provide you with the info you need is a BIG time and headache-saver.
Alright guys, I hope this blog gave you some good tips for spotting good clients.
What GREEN FLAGS do you usually look for? Comment below and let me know.
And until next time, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!
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