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Re: How to Spot Clients who will Insist on Directing the Project but Don't Know What They're Doing?

maryrossi
Ace Contributor
Mary-Helen R Member Since: Oct 9, 2018
1 of 8

I am so relieved to be able to ask for advice this forum as I have now had TWO difficult clients in a row, both of whom shared one significant trait: they were sure they knew at least as much as I did about the job they hired me to do.

 

I should start by saying I've clocked 60 hours for a client who paid me well and wrote me one of the best reviews I could have imagined. I really do try hard and do good work.

 

The first difficult client was the best example. A very successful business woman hired me to research and write grant proposals to fund a project. My job was to rewrite a proposal that sounded more like a marketing piece and find/send it to nonprofit foundations.

 

I have 30 years' experience in the nonprofit field, from all angles of it, with 20 in grant writing. I spent a fair amount of time on the job to infuse it with a lot of (possibly) subtle nuances that said to nonprofit funders that we knew what we were doing and we were going to do a very good job with their money. I speak their language, right?

 

She didn't think so. She couldn't imagine how I had spent so much time on it and was disappointed it wasn't more "compelling" and wanted to end our relationship. Since she had previously shown such resistance to any direction I had offered I just bowed out of the job telling her that if she didn't see the difference then we should indeed end it. She did pay me, without complaint.

 

The second one, an alternative health practitioner, has demanded I return the majority of the hourly she has paid. I have spent about 13 hours including almost 3 in phone conversations - I had clocked and charged her for 7 of the agreed-upon 9 total. I rewrote the portion of a manuscript that described the uniqueness of her treatment (it's a new intensive process she wants to get into -- she claims to be the only one who does it as well as she does) which was the hard part because she really didn't have clarity herself.

 

So after 7 hours clocked, she got scared by Upwork's resetting the clock to a new week, thinking I was going to take advantage of her. I repeatedly told her I was not, would not, and we could end the contract and make a new one for a fixed-rate equivalent of 2 hours but ... well ... it is currently in arbitration. It's hard to believe how much time and energy this client has required.

 

I'm sorry I just took so long to say all of that but it's so important to me to get this right and put my Upwork career on the right track. Is there any way I can see these clients coming BEFORE I agree to a contract? I thank you so very much for your input.

 

 

lambertus-louw
Active Member
Lambertus L Member Since: Jan 5, 2019
2 of 8

When you get the answer to that, please share! I do a bit of graphic design, and it's fascinating how after designing a simple little social media ad, a recent client first accepted it, loved it, then later turned around 2 months later and wants 20 changes...he may as well have re-designed it himself.

maryrossi
Ace Contributor
Mary-Helen R Member Since: Oct 9, 2018
3 of 8

I'd be happy to share it ... and thank you for the camaraderie!

kat303
Community Guru
Kathy T Member Since: Jul 17, 2015
4 of 8

So after 7 hours clocked, she got scared by Upwork's resetting the clock to a new week, thinking I was going to take advantage of her. I repeatedly told her I was not, would not, and we could end the contract and make a new one for a fixed-rate equivalent of 2 hours but ... well ... it is currently in arbitration. It's hard to believe how much time and energy this client has required.

 

--------------

Hourly jobs can not be disputed or go into arbitration. The only thing a client can do concerning hourly jobs is to dispute the hours that show you weren't working on the client's job. Examples of that would be screen shots showing you playing games, reading/answering email, surfing the internet or manual hours entered. 

For hourly jobs you need to use Upwork's Tracker. 

provide notes for the screen shots it took 

and have reasonable, normal keystroke activity. 

 

If you did all 3 above, you will get paid for those hours. either by the client or by Upwork. 

 

As for difficult clients, We all get them. Sometimes during an interview a freelancer can tell by the responses they get when they ask the client for more information, answers to questions, or just by the general tone of the conversation. Other times freelancers find out, like you did, when they actually start working with the client.

mtngigi
Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
5 of 8

@Mary R wrote:

I am so relieved to be able to ask for advice this forum as I have now had TWO difficult clients in a row, both of whom shared one significant trait: they were sure they knew at least as much as I did about the job they hired me to do.

 

I should start by saying I've clocked 60 hours for a client who paid me well and wrote me one of the best reviews I could have imagined. I really do try hard and do good work.

 

The first difficult client was the best example. A very successful business woman hired me to research and write grant proposals to fund a project. My job was to rewrite a proposal that sounded more like a marketing piece and find/send it to nonprofit foundations.

 

I have 30 years' experience in the nonprofit field, from all angles of it, with 20 in grant writing. I spent a fair amount of time on the job to infuse it with a lot of (possibly) subtle nuances that said to nonprofit funders that we knew what we were doing and we were going to do a very good job with their money. I speak their language, right?

 

She didn't think so. She couldn't imagine how I had spent so much time on it and was disappointed it wasn't more "compelling" and wanted to end our relationship. Since she had previously shown such resistance to any direction I had offered I just bowed out of the job telling her that if she didn't see the difference then we should indeed end it. She did pay me, without complaint.

 

The second one, an alternative health practitioner, has demanded I return the majority of the hourly she has paid. I have spent about 13 hours including almost 3 in phone conversations - I had clocked and charged her for 7 of the agreed-upon 9 total. I rewrote the portion of a manuscript that described the uniqueness of her treatment (it's a new intensive process she wants to get into -- she claims to be the only one who does it as well as she does) which was the hard part because she really didn't have clarity herself.

 

So after 7 hours clocked, she got scared by Upwork's resetting the clock to a new week, thinking I was going to take advantage of her. I repeatedly told her I was not, would not, and we could end the contract and make a new one for a fixed-rate equivalent of 2 hours but ... well ... it is currently in arbitration. It's hard to believe how much time and energy this client has required.

 

I'm sorry I just took so long to say all of that but it's so important to me to get this right and put my Upwork career on the right track. Is there any way I can see these clients coming BEFORE I agree to a contract? I thank you so very much for your input.

 

 

There is no magic bullet. If they're new clients, it's a gamble* - but a big tell is how well their RFPs are written. If they're established clients, do your due diligence and look at their hiring history and feedback.

 

*One I take often ... and end up working with great clients.


 

browersr
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
6 of 8

As mentioned there is no magic bullet, but that doen't mean there is nothing that can be done. You'll need to develop a feel about the client and the ability to listen to your intuition even if it steers you away from a paying customer.

 

First, you can get a lot from the job description. Was there thought, time and care taken into presenting what they are looking to do or is the tag line "pardon any spelling mistakes as this was written on a mobile device" longer than the actual job description? What is the tone of the job description? Is it professional, cavalier, fanciful or condescending? I've seen plenty of job postings where the client is making demands and saying things like "the freelancer will do this and will do that" and other declarative language about how the freelancer is to act and behave. You can sometimes sense the contempt or overall controlling nature of the person. Ask yourself when reading the job description how it made you feel. Did you feel annoyance, did you roll your eyes or did you start getting excited thinking about your reply? Pay attention to these signals as first reactions can be very telling.

 

Second, if you get as far as the interview, you will then really get the chance to get a feel for the client. Are they engaging with you as professional or is it a one-sided conversation with short snippy like answers. Do they respond to you within a reasonable period of time. Would they rather spend the majority of the time talking about cost versus what they really need. How open are they to any input or comments you make. This is really the time - prior to any official engagement - to get as good a feeling as you can about the client. If it doesn't feel right, move on. If it doesn't feel right but you don't want to give up a paying opportunity, then be prepared for the potential consequences. 

 

The above helps tremendously but there is no panacea. Some people struggle more than others in assessing people. Some people let the need to land a job override good judgement. Most just need more experience in business and sometimes life to develop the right feel. Other times, even when all vetting was done perfectly, it will still turn out bad. There is no way to completely avoid the variability of people and business.

 

maryrossi
Ace Contributor
Mary-Helen R Member Since: Oct 9, 2018
7 of 8

You are an excellent writer! You are also very smart. :-)

One of your first suggestions hit me square between the eyes - listen to your intuition even if it steers you away from a paying customer. Bingo! I can remember thinking "I can work around that" or "I can make this work" or "heck, this isn't a marriage, it's a short-term contract".

Your other suggestions were also right-on (neither of these women could stop talking about herself and cost was always first and foremost, almost bargaining from the get-go).

So listen to my intuition, and pass up the paying job that I'll end up PAYING FOR! 

I remember some of your other advice on this forum and as I did then, I truly appreciate you.

Thank you Scott!

browersr
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
8 of 8

Kind of you, Mary. Good luck to you!

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