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What’s the Difference Between a Good Client and a Bad Client?

Getting your first few clients is a rocky, uphill battle. It may seem like you’ll never get there. When email after email goes unanswered, you may just want to give up. But I’m here to tell you not to. Keep on climbing. It’ll be worth it.

Because before you know it, you’ll have more than you can handle. So if that wave hasn’t crested yet, don’t worry. This blog is going to prepare you for the day it does.

In today’s blog, we’re going over what to look for in good and bad clients. If you’re looking for more advice on clients, you can check out my course.

Good Clients

Good clients are gold. They appreciate you and understand what you do. They’re long term clients that you want to keep around.

Not every client is a good client. Make sure you know what to look for.

Clear Expectations

Good clients are great at communicating. They offer clear expectations of

your role and the deliverable they are looking for. Not only that, they are there to answer questions if needed. There’s nothing worse than having a question, and being held up for days waiting for an answer.

You should know the best communication channel, too. Do they use slack? Is email the best way to get your questions answered? Or do they want a quick text? A good client lets you know how they can be reached and during what time frame. Remember: we don’t all work in the same time zones.

Give Resources for the Job

A good client sets you up for success. They know what you need to accomplish the job, and they give it to you during the onboarding process. If you’re just left to write without any handouts from the client, they’re probably not an organized publication.

You should have access to:

  • Content briefs

  • Style guides

  • Research guides

These resources let you build the best deliverable you can for your client. And a good client understands that. It makes your job go by faster, and it leads to a better end-product.

Pay Well

Good clients understand what a good writer is worth. They don’t try to low-ball you when you give your rates. Anyone who pays $0.10-0.20/word isn’t a good client. They may be an average client, but they’re nothing to write home about.

Good clients know that a good writer is incredibly valuable. They know a well-written deliverable can be a lead-magnet for years to come. And they price accordingly.

Bad Clients

Bad clients just aren’t worth it. Even if the pay is super high, just walk away if you can. And if you haven’t signed a contract, don’t do it.

Here’s why: You may be desperate for clients. I get it, I was, too. But some clients can be so bad they turn you off for writing forever. Or they drag on the process with edit after edit. Or they nitpick and bring you down even though you are an amazing, capable person.

And as a new writer, you’re still a bit fragile. You may actually believe someone if they say you’re writing stinks. Or that 8 edits is the norm. And you could carry that along with you in your career.

So just say no. Walk away, you can do better. Let’s go over what makes a bad client so you know what to put up those strong, healthy boundaries.

Vague Communication

Bad clients are poor communicators. They may not answer your emails or messages. Or their content brief may not be direct enough for you to write without additional information. They may just expect you to do the work without additional guidance or resources.

What a bad client doesn’t know is that every single publication is a little bit different. So, you need these resources to be able to create a deliverable to their expectations. Not answering questions clearly and promptly just hurts the client in the long run.

Scope Creep

Scope creep is the absolute worst. It’s when you have a defined role and your client requests more work outside of your scope. Bad clients are famous for this.

They don’t do it right away, though. They may assign a few hundred words without paying extra. The next time it may be 500 extra words. Or, they’ll ask you to add pictures to the article. That sort of thing.

But it adds up. And they’re making you work for free. Doing the occasional favor is okay. If you have a client that’s always doing this, it’s time to look for a better one.


You’re too fabulous to waste your time with clients who don’t know your self worth. You may be desperate and you may think you need any client that comes along, but you don’t. They’re going to cause more harm than good. And if you’re locked into a contract with a bad client, you may not have the time to take on a good client. And that’s what really matters.

If you need help with clients, check out my course.

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