Ask a Business Coach: Freelancer Q&A

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development

The economy is changing. More and more Americans are choosing to strike out on their own and be freelancers. According to the Freelancing in America 2015 Report, 54 million people are freelancers, working independently of traditional employment arrangements. While freelancers are redefining the way this country works, they are also experiencing a host of issues foreign to their cubicle counterparts. Over the next four weeks on the blog I will address questions especially for freelancers, to arm them with the knowledge they need to succeed.


Q: How do I spot a client who is going to suck the life right out of me?



A: Even before the ink is dry on the agreement, the new client calls, e-mails, or texts with miscellaneous items outside of the project’s scope. That person is a dreaded vampire client, eager to suck up your precious time and resources. Every single freelancer has been there, but there are ways to avoid the time suckers.

Vampire clients can only suck the life out of you if YOU allow it. Start by setting boundaries up front. Create a list of tasks you will or will not do. Share that list with your clients when you send over the agreement for signing. When you have already decided you won’t do a certain task, it’s a lot easier to communicate that to a new client. It will also keep the scope creep at bay.

Don’t feel guilty! If you feel guilty about not doing everything the client asks of you, then you haven’t priced your services appropriately, you undervalue yourself, or you didn’t sell your skill set right in the first place.

Another way to sniff out a potential time-sucking client is to talk to their previous provider, if possible. This may be easier if you have the same circle of colleagues. Also ask about what the client liked and didn’t like about previous services they received. What are they looking for from you? Those types of questions usually help clarify expectations and can help you determine if the client is a good fit.

It’s okay to interview the prospect, just like the prospect is interviewing you. In fact, it’s essential. Vampire clients can drain you physically and mentally, causing stress that will impact the work you do for your other clients. As a solopreneur, you want to do your best to only take on the clients and projects that will move you forward, not hold you back.

You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers! Drop me a line at and I will answer your business-related questions on my blog for FREE.