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In the freelancing world, sometimes it can be easy to focus on the negative. We spend our time trying to run away from bad clients rather than focusing on attracting the great ones.

The good news is, there are many great clients out there that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past four to five years.

Here are some common traits that these clients have:

They’re Realistic

Freelancers aren’t miracle workers. Some clients, usually those who haven’t worked heavily with freelancers for long, can have the expectation that you’ll hit the ground running and you’ll deliver exactly what they want on the first try.

Freelancers need to go through a training period to get a feel for the client and their needs. You won’t know the client’s style and how they do things right off the bat. Feedback is critical in the beginning of the relationship.

If a client gives you honest, courteous, and constructive feedback, it’s a sign that they’re a realistic and reasonable person to work with. Do your part to get edits and adjustments back to them promptly because this could grow into a great relationship.

They Rectify Payment Issues Immediately

In my experience, there could be trouble with the first payment even from clients who mean well. Maybe your information is entered wrong into the payment system or you didn’t send the invoice in time to make payroll. Innocent mistakes can happen.

How they rectify the mistake is where you should pay attention. A potentially great client will be apologetic and make every effort to get your payment sorted right away. This means they value your work and your time.

I’ve found the people you least expect will take the longest time to pay you and it’s disappointing. It can be people who run a small business themselves who wait weeks or months to send funds. However, payment trouble at the beginning can be forgiven (at your discretion) if the client is doing everything in their power to get it right.

They Respect Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries is important for your sanity. You need to set a work schedule for yourself so you don’t end up working nonstop. My workday goes from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. Sometimes I do projects after hours, but it’s expected that I won’t be answering emails.

I set this boundary for myself so clients understand that I’m not always available. I do need time for myself. A great client is respectful of this boundary. They won’t sneer at your decision to set work hours and they won’t complain when you don’t answer their emails right away.

Final Word

Aspiring writers tell me that they hear horror stories from people who’ve dabbled in freelancing with different publications. It’s sad that some clients give the freelancing profession a bad name because of their unprofessionalism.

There are great clients out there who want to pay you properly for your time. If you’ve had a few bad experiences, try to stick it out until you’re able to find the good people. I also started my career with a few clients who treated freelancers poorly. These experiences were challenging, but they taught me how to identify the right clients for my business.