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Summary:

You might think that contractors will take on any jobs they can land, but there are certain qualities that freelancers look for in their clients. If you can’t offer up these qualities, you may not be able to hire the best freelancers for your projects.

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You might think that contractors will take on any jobs they can land, but there are certain qualities that freelancers look for in their clients. If you can’t offer up these qualities, you may not be able to hire the best freelancers for your projects.

  • Great clients are easy to work with. It’s easy for a client to think that freelancers just want someone that will take whatever work they send in, but that’s not what a freelancer is looking for. Rather, the quality of being easy to work with means that the client in question helps the freelancer stick to the timeline, returns phone calls promptly and generally treats the freelancer like a professional. It may sound simple enough before you start a project, but it’s easy for a freelancer to get lost in the shuffle. For example, maybe one of your own clients has a crisis and you push the freelancer to the back burner while you deal with it. Situations like that can make a freelancer’s work significantly harder.
  • Great clients don’t micromanage. There’s also a question of control. Clients can try to control a project in numerous ways that just don’t help to get the work done. If you trust a freelancer enough to choose her for your project, it’s important to take a step back. You can make your preferences clear without micro-managing the project. After all, you’ve likely looked for a freelancer who is truly a professional.
  • Great clients don’t take advantage. Lastly, freelancers often struggle with clients that try to take advantage of them, by trying to get additional work out of the freelancer without paying more, for example. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a freelancer to be asked to take on new facets of a project at the last moment without being offered any additional payment.

Considering the qualities of a good client are something that anyone looking to do business with you will likely expect, it’s not necessarily tricky to make freelancers as happy as your other business contacts.

Sure, in tough times, you may find freelancers are willing to take on projects even from clients that they’d prefer not to work with, given the choice, but you’ll get better work from a freelancer who is always excited to work with you, rather than dreading the process. You’re more likely get a better deal from a freelancer if you’re an ideal client, so it’s worth a little extra work.

Photo courtesy Flickr user John O’Nolan

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  1. I agree, I would love to work with clients who respond promptly, who take the time to provide detailed feedback for my work, and who aren’t too controlling over how I do my job.

    Another thing that I’d usually look for in clients is how friendly and respectful they are. Just as I wholly respect my clients, I’d also like them to at least be kind, considerate, and respectful towards me and my work. It makes the working experience more motivating and fun. :)

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  2. Very true… and I was pleasantly surprised, when I left the comfort of corporate employment to build my own consulting business, to discover that in general I find many clients like that, so that I work with many people who are interesting, smart and agreeable.

    Of course it’s a 2-way street… I suppose they like working with me as well, or we wouldn’t work together for long!

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  3. I believe you’ve got all points covered, and if I may add: having hired freelancers to work on multiple projects for over a decade, I’d say they love clients who pay on time – clients who know how to value the skills of freelancers by paying them what they truly deserve.

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    1. As a sometime freelancer myself, I’d say that paying on time is a really important point. And sometimes, you can have a great relationship with your main point of contact at a client only for that to be spoiled by its accounts dept.

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  4. Thank you for saying what we don’t hear often enough. So many articles tell clients how to find a great contractor, but there is a such a thing as a good client, and a client a freelancer wants to avoid. After years of freelancing, you can generally tell which is which after a few conversations, but hopefully this will help clients understand that freelancers are valuable and not to be taken for granted.

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  5. I always enjoy working with clients who have similar interests and beliefs. I’ve made good friends out of many former (and still current) clients.

    What I also love in a client is organization. A client who has all their content and ideas together at the start of a project is a GREAT client, as that type of organization leads to fewer changes and less scope creep in the project.

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  6. Icing on the cake … great clients pay (on time).

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