Great Expectations: Tips for Spotting Picky Clients and Pleasing Difficult Customers

Difficult ClientsFreelance writers often don’t meet their clients face-to-face, but we still have our more-than-fair share of hard-to-please bosses and frustrating managers. Recognizing a difficult client and knowing how to maintain the relationship will help you advance your freelance writing career.

Spotting the Difficult Client

Whether you are writing a press release or a blog post, the tricky employer will come in all shapes and sizes—and industries. The first step towards pleasing a hard-to-please client is to recognize them for what they are so you can act accordingly.

Notice a lot of ultra-specific directions in the assignment? This is a good indicator that a client is looking for something very precise and won’t be happy with anything slightly different than his or her vision. Sometimes this is easy to accomplish because the vision is clearly stated and good examples are given, but sometimes directions create the recipe for upcoming revisions and clarifications.

Are the instructions confusing and poorly written? For some reason unknown to me, I have found the most vague and oddly written assignments are often backed by those sporting the most precise idea of what an article should be. It’s possible a client is just struggling to get out all of the ideas fluttering around in their head, or maybe they just figure they will know a great article when the see it, but for some reason these assignments almost always require a follow-up revision.

Aggressive language and preemptive warnings? We all know the importance of following the client’s directions and the seriousness of a deadline, so when you see additional precautions taken by the client in the form of threats, it’s easy to assume they have abnormal standards.

This, however, may not actually be the case; clients (especially those using freelance authors for the first time) are often nervous and considering all the possible problems that might result from their order. I have found these wary clients are more often excited (and possibly relieved) when I submit my work than anything else.

Satisfying the Picky

A difficult nature is further complicated when the hardest clients are also your lowest-paying. Picking up work is your choice. Once you’ve picked up an assignment, it is in your best interest to make your client happy. However, when you find a client to be especially difficult, you may want to consider the compensation and whether pursuing that client in the future is worth it.

  • Re-read the directions before submitting your article: A sure-fire way to land a revision is to skip over or forget a part of the directions and this is easy to do with in-depth requests.
  • Revise immediately: Quick turnaround is important to many clients.
  • Don’t explain yourself: No matter how tempted you are, most clients don’t want to hear why you did something. Explanations tend to sound belligerent.

Finally, it’s worth noting the upside to a picky client: it usually gets easier to please a client once you’ve discovered their preference and vision. When you work hard to impress, you might find yourself specifically sought out for future jobs by a client grateful for your careful consideration.

Alethea M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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