Sadly, not all freelance clients are on the up and up. Some clients are downright scammers, while others may just have a tendency to stretch the truth from time to time.
Unfortunately, even “little white lies” can have a serious impact on a freelancer who depends on client work and client payments to pay the bills.
In this post, I’ll list six common client lies and explain why clients sometimes tell them. If you hear any of these words coming out of your client’s mouth, tread cautiously.
Lie #1. I’ll Pay You Once I Am Successful
If you listen to this one long enough, you might start to believe that you’re about to turn down the greatest opportunity since the invention of the wheel. This is also known the “percentage of profit” lie, as in, I’ll pay you x percentage of my profits once I get up and going.
Oddly enough, this lie comes mainly from clients who haven’t experienced success. You see, a really successful client is able to pay your fees and doesn’t have to make any grandiose promises.
The inherent flaw with this one is that there is usually no way for the freelancer to measure the client’s success or failure. Unless the client is going to give you access to his or her books so that you can determine their receipts, run the other way when you hear this one.
Lie #2. There Will Be Plenty More Work in the Future
Often clients mean well when they make this statement. They may have big dreams about future projects that never materialize. Other times, the client is just trying to negotiate a lower price based on the possibility of a high volume of work.
Either way, future work won’t pay your current bills. Unless the client is willing to commit to a those future projects (with specific project details including dates) in writing, stick to your guns and don’t lower your price.
Lie #3. The Check Is in the Mail
For as often as I’ve heard this one, you’d think the post office was always losing mail. It’s funny how my bills never seem to get lost, though.
I’ve actually heard clients tell this same lie over and over again. When I finally receive the (very late) payment, I notice that the envelope is postmarked for just a few days earlier.
If it’s been over two weeks and you still haven’t received the check through the mail, your client is probably lying.
This lie is definitely a red flag. Often this lie indicates that the client is in financial trouble and is trying to stall for time. Think twice about working for them again. Better yet, make them pay up front.
Lie #4. You’ll Get Plenty of Exposure from This
Ask yourself, “do I need exposure, or do I need to get paid?”
There’s a time (such as when you’ve just started selling a product) when you might want to promote yourself heavily, but most of the time your answer should be, “I want to get paid.” Be very careful about what you do for exposure.
If the client doesn’t have a proven history of having a large audience, skip this offer. Remember, no one can guarantee that people will see your work (or that they will remember who did it if they do see it). Besides, the best gigs give you credit for your work and a paycheck.
Lie #5. All Your Colleagues Work for X Amount
This is another attempt by a client to get you to lower your price. He or she quotes an obscenely low price for the services that you are offering and claims that the low price is the market rate.
Don’t believe this lowballer for a minute! Sure, there may be freelancers out there who are willing to work for practically nothing, but that doesn’t mean that they are actually any good at what they do. (And if they are good, they won’t stay that cheap for long.)
Stick to your guns when it comes to pricing. This client isn’t being realistic about the cost of doing business.
Lie #6. This Is a Very Small Project
It’s so easy to get taken in by this one. The client makes the project seem like there’s hardly any work involved so that you’ll quote a low price.
The trouble is, the client has left a lot of things out when describing the project. If you’re not careful, when it comes time to actually do this project you’ll find that there’s a lot more work than you anticipated.
To expose this lie, be sure to ask the client lots of questions about the work. Get his or her answers to your questions in writing. Be very specific about things that take extra time like meetings or revisions. Finally, make sure to get a written agreement from the client before you start the project.
Have you ever been fooled by a client’s lie? What lie was it? Did I leave any lies out?
Share your answers (no client names please) in the comments along with how you responded.
Image by alancleaver_2000