Ten Characteristics of a Good Client

Laura Spencer

Well-known member
Do you know the key characteristics of a good client? Can you distinguish the good clients from the bad before you start working for them?

Or, when the tables are turned, do you have what it takes to become a good client when your business expands and you’re ready to hire other freelancers?

Here are ten characteristics of a good client:
  1. Communicates expectations clearly. The number one characteristic of a good client is that they are able to express what they want and need. This ability is vital for a freelancer to deliver the right product or service. A freelancer can’t deliver what wasn’t asked for.

  2. Allows a reasonable amount of time for the work. The freelancing world is filled with clients who want it “yesterday.” Often, what these clients actually get is a rushed job full of mistakes and needing a lot of rework. A good client, however, understands that quality work takes time and plans accordingly.
  3. Available for questions. While most freelancers can and do work independently, there’s nothing more frustrating for a freelancer than being surprised by an obstacle and being unable to reach the client. Smart clients know that it’s cheaper to get it right the first time than to fix it later. They make themselves available.
  4. Pays a fair amount for work required. A bargain is a bargain, except when it’s not. Often paying less than market rate for work results in getting work of less than average quality. That’s because a freelancer who works on the cheap often must take on more work than they can really do well just to make ends meet.
  5. Pays in a timely fashion. Discuss your payment terms with the freelancer before the project begins and then honor those terms. If you say that you will pay within x days of the project’s completion, be sure to pay that amount within that timeframe. Don’t make the freelancer beg you for their payment. You could ruin your professional reputation and even your credit history.
  6. Has high integrity. Honesty is at the core of every successful business relationship. Conduct all of your business in an honest and transparent fashion. Not only is this a great way to conduct yourself in general, it will also enhance your business reputation.
  7. Allows the freelancer to do their job. If you’ve hired the right person, then they possess the talent and skill to do the job well. Keep an open mind about what your freelancer proposes. Don’t be constantly second-guessing your freelancer’s abilities.
  8. Seeks an ongoing relationship. The best clients understand the value of an ongoing relationship. They don’t want to have to “break-in” a new freelancer with each new project that they have.
  9. Gives credit where credit is due. While it’s not always possible to give a freelancer authorship credit for a product or service, a discerning client notices when a freelancer puts in extra effort or goes the extra mile in a project.
  10. Committed to quality. Most freelancers take pride in their work and want to produce high quality work. They dislike it when a client asks them to take shortcuts.

How do you stack up?​

Can you recognize these traits in your potential customers? What characteristic of a good client would you add to this list?

When you’re the client, how do you stack up? What could you change about your business to become a better client?

Give us your thoughts in the comments.