Can the Bad Attitude of a Few Bad Apples Hurt Your Business?

bad-applesIt’s time to get serious about freelancing!

A few freelancers don’t take their business seriously enough, and quite frankly their unprofessionalism is hurting the rest of us who want to make a career out of freelancing.

So, if you’ve been merely dabbling in freelancing, if you’ve been inconsistent with the quality you provide, or if your attitude towards clients needs a little bit of adjustment, I have just two words for you:


To all the bad apples out there–Quit having a bad attitude towards clients. Quit producing low quality work. Quit playing at freelancing and get serious. The rest of us would really appreciate it.

If you’ve ever had to clean up after an unprofessional freelancer, you’ll probably relate to this post (you might even want to add your own thoughts about unprofessionalism in the comments).

Can Someone Else’s Bad Attitude Hurt My Business?

There’s been an ongoing debate about whether unprofessional freelancers hurt the rest of us. I’ve heard a lot of folks on social media say that it doesn’t make any difference what others do, so just “shut up and mind your own business.”

I’m normally a pretty meek person, and in many cases I do have a “live and let live” philosophy, but in this case, I think it’s important for us to speak out. It’s important because, in my experience, sometimes unprofessional freelancers do hurt the reputation of the dedicated freelancer. Unprofessional freelancers can hurt the rest of us by:

  • Providing misinformation
  • Providing poor service

Sadly, in the minds of some clients, we are all lumped together. If they have one bad experience with a freelancer that client assumes they’ll have a bad experience with every freelancer. To them, one freelancer is as good as the next.

Believe me, it’s not fun to hear your client insist, “but the last freelancer told me…“–especially when you know that what the last freelancer told them was very wrong.

Would You Use an Unprofessional Professional?

We’ve all dealt with professionals before. At some point in your life, you’ve probably also been in contact with a professional as a consumer. Draw on your own life experiences.

Consider the times that you’ve been to the doctor, or dentist. If you’ve used the services of an attorney or an accountant, then you’ve also used a professional.

While there are bad doctors, dentists, attorneys, and accountants out there–most of the ones who stay in business have fairly decent professional skills.

As you think about your last experience with a professional ask yourself these questions:

  • Did they give you inaccurate information?
  • Did they belittle you?
  • Were they rude or confrontational to you?
  • Did they talk about you behind your back or divulge your personal information publicly?
  • Did they waffle on their price and apologize for costing so much?

If you were dealing with a true professional, most likely your answer to all of the questions above is: “No, of course not.” (If you answered “yes,” I would expect that you would never go back to that individual. You might even report them to the Better Business Bureau, or some other consumer watchdog group.)

Yet, a few freelancers do exactly the things to their clients that they wouldn’t ever dream of accepting from another type of professional.

I’m telling you right now, that’s not cool at all.

Learn More About Professionalism

We’ve written quite a bit about professionalism here on Freelance Folder. That’s because it’s so important.

  • It’s important to your individual success as a freelancer
  • It’s important to the overall reputation of freelancers everywhere

Professionalism can get clients to take you more seriously. It can help you develop a business mindset.

Even though we balance our materials here at Freelance Folder between writing for those freelancers who are just starting out and writing for those freelancers who have years of experience, in general the posts here have one thing in common–they are for freelancers who want to improve themselves.

Fortunately, that’s most of us. I’m confident that most of us are not the “bad apples” I’m referring to in this post.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever had to clean up after a “bad apple” freelancer who did a less than professional job? Do you think unprofessional freelancers make it harder for the rest of us?

Without leaving any specific names, share your experiences in the comments.

Image by ragesoss