Checklist: Client red flags to look out for

Wondering what to look out for when it comes to bad (either in fit or behaviour) clients? Here’s the checklist I use!


🚩They immediately ask for a discount. Some negotiating is normal, but a client who straight away wants discounts without any wriggle room on the amount of work done is a concern. Those are the clients that end up being the most difficult too.  

🚩They’re not comfortable agreeing to my T&Cs (which are standard and reasonable)

🚩They ask inappropriate questions

🚩They’ve worked with several freelancers on a project before, but it hasn’t worked out

🚩90 day payment terms. No thank you. 

🚩Gut feeling. This is a biggie. Without a doubt, every time I’ve gone against my gut instinct, it’s not gone to plan. 

🚩Spec work. Controversial one I know, but I have testimonials and other work I can show - spec work is unnecessary. Would I ask a plumber to come over and fix the toilet before I hire him for other work? No. It’s unnecessary. 


There are some amber flags too. Skills swaps, working with mates (or being asked for mates rates) and projects where everyone is a bit vague.