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7 Types of Client To Avoid (If You Want To Get Paid On Time)

Not getting paid on time (or at all) is every freelance copywriter’s nightmare.

Not only is it inconvenient, time-consuming and stressful, but it could cause you some serious cash-flow issues.

So, to help you spot potential bad actors and have a little fun at the same time, we’ve compiled 7 client avatars you should avoid if you want to get paid on time.

Let's go!

1. The Dilly Dally Non-Decision Maker

The Dilly Dally Non-Decision Maker has a hard time signing off any work, let alone getting around to approving your invoice.

They’ll pore over every tiny detail and fret about moving forward for fear of making a miss-step.

They’ll often make lots of ‘minor’ amendments to your work that end up diluting the copy, adding errors and turning it into something completely different from the initial brief, or they’ll put the finer details ‘to death by committee’.

How to spot them:

You should be able to spot them from a mile away, as they would have taken ages to hire you in the first place (while splitting hairs over the written agreement). And the reason you probably got hired to begin with was that someone else was in charge on that particular day, as they’d never have gotten around to it.


2. The Slow Mo Mañana

Slow Mo Mañana is Dilly Dally’s distinctly distant dawdling cousin. We say distant because the Slo Mo takes their time over everything and consequently never catches up.

Decisions and ideas get lost in the fog of time. Everything can be done tomorrow or next week, or possibly not at all with this laid-back malingerer.

Slow Mo Mañanas are likeable enough, but unless they have an action taker on their team (preferably in charge), then this character is one to avoid. They don’t mean to be slow or no-payers – it’s just in their nature.

How to spot them:

More like where to spot them – they’ll be propping up the bar, sipping cocktails at the pool, or on some exotic sandy retreat surrounded by a clique of ‘build it and they will come...eventually’ devotees. No rush – everything is Mañana.


3. The Slip

Known as The Slip as you can never pin them down on anything, and they always give you ‘the slip’ or obfuscate the finer details about the project you are working on.

Never one to give a straight answer, this slow payer can have you second-guessing your own actions – did you deliver the work you promised? Did we agree to something else? Did you really send them that invoice?

How to spot them:

The project’s goalposts are constantly moving; they seem to have an in-built excuse generator and have a way of over-promising and under-delivering. They’ve probably also hired another freelancer behind your back to do the exact same job and not told you yet. Strong client qualifying processes and water-tight written agreements should weed this slippery customer out.


4. The Influencer’s Influencer

Aha. This person is a ‘friend to the Hollywood stars and people in high places’, and if you do the first few tasks for free, you’ll be their preferred copywriter for all future gigs.

The ‘exposure’ you’ll gain working with their ‘friends’ who are ‘major influencers’ will boost your business no end, and there’ll be plenty of paid celebrity work – in the future.

How to spot them:

Charm, persistence and name-dropping give The Influencer’s Influencer’s game away from the get-go – they’ll also be bold enough to ask you to work for free with the promise of great riches, fame and fortune to follow.


5. The Emotional Boundary Breaker

The Emotional Boundary Breaker has no idea they are even breaking boundaries when they contact you at all hours over several different mediums with demands to meet impossible deadlines.

They just expect you to drop everything and have no regard for your needs. There always seems to be an emergency or drama that they feel only you can solve, and they are oh-so grateful for your time.

Until you send them that invoice that they must’ve mislaid or didn’t receive, and then get upset when you chase them. How could you possibly treat me like this? We’re besties, right?

How to spot them:

Over familiarity, clingyness, and presumptuousness give the Emotional Boundary Breaker’s ruse away from the beginning. They’ll treat you like their bestie from the start and might even provide unprofessional insights about others to you in a bid to gaslight and win your trust. Or, even worse, invite themselves (and their family) over to your house early on a Sunday morning – Nope, I’m not kidding!


6. The Would-Be Guru

The Would-Be Guru has lofty aspirations, is shooting for the stars, and has an even higher opinion of themselves.

They love nothing more than telling you how famous and fabulously wealthy they are going to be, although the route to getting there isn’t quite as well-formed and doesn’t need planning; it’s simply going to ‘manifest’ via their spiral staircase of success. 

Their overall vision board possibly doesn’t include paying freelancer copywriters on time either – if at all – because the reward is in working for them. Minions don’t need money!

How to spot them:

They’ve binge-watched so many guru videos that they know how to apply the exact same blueprint to their business. The only fly in the ointment is they haven't got an idea of what it is they actually do and their plans for future world dominion are flaky at best! Oh, and if they come back to you re; some good quality work you’ve done but condescendingly ask you to have ‘another stab at it’ – you can be 100% sure you’ve got yourself a bonafide Would-Be Guru!


7. The Ghost

And last but not least we have the classic, The Ghost!

This ghoulish character has a way of completely disappearing and leaving no sign or trace. You’ll not get a reply to any email, message, or any other correspondence you send them, and, sad to say, it’s absolutely guaranteed you’ll never get paid.

How to spot them:

Although they might not be floating about in the air with a white sheet over their heads, Ghosts can be easy to weed out in the early stages by the mere fact that they didn’t respond to your freelance proposal. Ghosts are creatures of habit, so when they don’t respond – take note of what they do – not what they said they were going to do.


Obviously, while we’ve made light of these client avatars, not getting paid on time or at all is a very serious matter.

While having good invoicing software won’t eradicate late payers, it can certainly help. 

We highly recommend Invoice Ninja. It’s perfect for freelance writers and small businesses—and you can use it for free. 

Sign up for free at our referral link here or click the button below.

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