Five Customers Every Freelancer Must Face


I love music. I love it so much that when I got the opportunity to create music for people as a freelancer, I jumped at it. Sharing my talent with others and being paid for it seemed like a total win-win situation. But running a freelance business isn’t just about the skill you are providing. It comes with dealing with people of all kinds. Each project is different and each customer is unique but the experience has always been interesting. The most important thing is to learn what you can from each customer. Here are five customers every freelancer is bound to encounter and the lessons they have taught me along my freelance journey.

The Cheapskate

It’s natural for the freelancer to have some doubt in his abilities, especially when this is something he does part-time. The cheapskate preys on these vulnerabilities in order to get the best possible price. It isn’t that this customer doesn’t need the service or think that the service is worth the asking price but he simply doesn’t want to part with his money. You can identify this person by them constantly trying to get you to lower your prices or asking you to provide them with a free sample before actually making their purchase.

A friend of mine had the business idea of taking orders for market produce and delivering it to their homes. After discussions with a number of potential clients, he realised that the prices they were willing to pay would not be worth his time and effort.

Know your value and don’t allow
yourself to be devalued.

The key to working with this kind of individual is to be aware of what your service is worth and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Drop your price if you must but don’t cheat yourself.

The Flip-Flop

Because someone is making an order means they know exactly what they want. Right?


freelance customers

The flip-flop customer isn’t certain what they want; they just know that they want to order.

A customer of mine made an order for some music to accompany a certain timecode for a video she was producing. The music was to be upbeat and she gave me a sample of the sort of music she required. After spending some time perfecting my energetic track, I submitted the finished work only to be told that she wanted a revision and that she wanted solemn music instead. Wanting to keep my customer happy, I created the solemn track only to hear “I’ve sat with it and I really am digging the first one”. You would think this would end here but she wanted me to shorten my upbeat track to half its length and create a totally new track for a different timecode at no additional cost!

Don’t confuse being exploited
with pleasing your customer.

By all means, do what you can to keep your customers happy, but it’s easy to be taken advantage of if you’re not careful. Set boundaries for your offerings particularly in the form of policies that every customer will be aware of before placing an order, e.g. the number of revisions and what constitutes a revision. It will require some work but you’ll thank yourself later.

The Rotten Egg

If you’ve ever had to deal with this kind of customer, I’m really sorry you had to go through that. While often sharing features with the Cheapskate and the Flip-Flop (see above), the malicious intentions of this customer is what places them in a category of their own.

Don’t be afraid to challenge unfair reviews.

In a best case scenario, you identify this type of customer from early and you run for the hills and don’t look back. In a slightly worse scenario, you discover the negative traits later and cancel the order if possible and cut your losses. The worst case scenario involves a personal attack against you and the reputation of your business and the Internet makes this easy. Don’t take this sitting down.

The Casual Customer

types of freelance customers

Customer satisfaction is closely tied to expectations. The Casual Customer orders from your gig with very low expectations of you and your service, possibly expecting a higher price for a quality service. When you deliver they are over the moon! For instance, a recent buyer commented that I was “the absolute best at writing, composing and producing music”.

Don’t let praise go to your head.

Everyone needs an ego boost from time to time and this person will give you just that. Enjoy the compliments but remember there is still room to learn and improve.

The Genuine Person

Despite meeting all of these categories at some time or another, the truth is that most customers are simply normal, everyday people trying to add value to their lives by ordering from your business. Make a good impression and you may just have a customer for life.

Always give your best, no matter what.

When a customer orders your product, they are trusting you to deliver value for their money. Always be true to your product or service, deliver what you advertise and do not mislead your customers. In so doing, your work will advertise itself, regardless of the customers you encounter.

About the Author

Valence JordanValence Jordan is the founder and managing director of Twisted Pulse, a music production enterprise. A practising medical doctor and chess enthusiast, he enjoys music production and composition. Check out Valence’s portfolio on PeoplePerHour!

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  • Humayun R.

    Good advices Dr. Jordan. And good lessons learned too. Thanks for sharing your story and your advice!

  • Gemma Rowlands

    This made me smile. The majority of my clients are an absolute pleasure to work for, but you will always get the odd one that stands out for the wrong reasons. Most notably for me was a client who asked me to do certain things to his work, I did them, and he rejected my invoice for not doing “X, Y and Z” that weren’t on the list of requirements! And it wasn’t even something that I could have used initiative to do – it was random! Luckily the fabulous dispute team on PPH sorted it, and I learned to make sure I (and they) know exactly what is wanted before the project begins in future.

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