Not all clients are worth your time, energy, or effort. That said, it’s not always easy to know when a client is not suitable for you. Some freelancing clients can be toxic and bring more stress than satisfaction. However, identifying poisonous clients early on will save you future headaches.
Fortunately, there are red flags that indicate a client might not be healthy for your business or your mental well-being. Here are some top warning signs that the freelancing relationship won’t benefit either side and that you should let go. If you ignore these red flags, it could cost you in the long run.
You’re scrambling to meet deadlines
You’re tired from too many late nights. You’ve been trying to squeeze all of your obligations into one day but, by the end of the day, you haven’t gotten everything done. You’re rushing so much that you don’t have time to do things that matter to you. If you work overtime to meet deadlines, your client may not be a good match. You’re better off parting ways with this client as soon as possible.
If your client offers you a lower rate than you’re comfortable with, walk away and move on. Don’t let the money hold you back from finding a better opportunity. There is no good reason to stay on a gig that isn’t paying enough. A healthy freelancing relationship is one where both parties are treated fairly. Your client should pay you fairly for your work and give feedback when needed. It doesn’t matter how desperate you are for gigs—never compromise the value you offer clients.
You constantly feel anxious about working with them
An engaged client is easy to work with and has many positive things to contribute. This client may have ideas or new ways of approaching the task. But if you’re constantly stressed out and on edge, it’s not healthy. You may be experiencing burnout. A toxic client can make freelancing feel more stressful than rewarding. If you constantly feel anxious about working with a client, it’s time to reassess the situation. You’re better off letting them go and finding a more positive client.
The best freelancers are selective in choosing which clients to work with. Unfortunately, not all toxic clients are easy to spot. Fortunately, you can look for warning signs that aren’t healthy for your business. If you notice a red flag, use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your freelancing relationship and find ways to improve it for both parties. Cutting professional ties is a last resort.