What red flags have you ignored?

You know those telltale signs of a difficult client? The ones you ignore because you really want (or need) the project?

What are the most prevalent and/or worst red flags you have ignored and what lesson did you learn from the experience?

5 thoughts on “What red flags have you ignored?

  1. Tricia Okin

    I completely ignored the red flag of a prospect trying to get some work out of me for cheaper even though the price was low already. I should have followed my gut because now I haven’t heard from him in weeks and I never received payment.
    Trust your gut folks…

  2. lidia varesco design

    I found that when a client started off a project by emphasizing their minimal budget, they ended up expecting more. I had this situation come up when I was just starting out (and seeking as much work as possible).
    However, I learned a good lesson: you have to detail exactly what is included in a project estimate. Not that there’s anything wrong with working on small-budget projects, but it seems the details need to spelled out even more clearly than with larger projects so that there are not unrealistic expectations.

  3. Lauren Bevilacqua design

    Working with a client that has multiple ownership can cause major communication issues. I made the mistake of allowing all 4 owners of a new local bar to share feedback which caused conflicting ideas within their business and poor communication on their part.
    After 3 rounds of their logo/identity, and exceeding my original estimate (which was discounted as a favor to begin with) I told them that I’d be happy to move forward with another round based on their feedback after approving the additional cost, and by working with ONE point person representing their business from this point on. After weeks of not hearing from them I find out that they “explored other options” and posted their job on 99designs.com and most likely paid someone $50 to create an AWFUL logo.
    The good news is they signed a contract which means I will be paid. Needless to say, I should have realized working with 4 clients at a time with conflicting communication and bad taste would have lead to this.

  4. Alan Kravitz

    I just had one of those clients. For me, there were two big red flags. 1) The client kept changing focus constantly – so much so that the project looked nothing like it did when we agreed to it. And 2) the client got defensive with every suggestion I made. I didn’t want to walk away, because I thought the project would be fun and challenging if we could just work out our differences. But we couldn’t, and when the client finally suggested parting ways, I was actually glad to do it.

  5. Stephanie Jones, Finch Creative

    As I build my business I sometimes cringe looking back at red flags I’ve ignored, but now I’m glad I went ahead despite my reservations because it forced me to learn the hard way, and now I won’t have to repeat those learning experiences. As a result, I’m much better a spotting qualified prospects and putting my time/focus/energy on them.
    General red flags I’ve ignored:
    – prospects balking at price or the need for contracts/deposits
    – clients that are convinced they need everything “asap”
    – no focus/clue what they want, but are unable to admit it (the mandatory use of creative briefs has really taken care of this problem)
    – any kind of unprofessional contact such as e-mails in all uppercase with lots of overzealous punctuation (!!!???????), rude or aggressive remarks of any kind
    – putting me off in any way when it comes to discussions of payment terms/schedule
    – inability to understand that they are hiring me for my expertise and there is value in my informed opinions/recommendations
    – the unprompted promising of “lost of future work”
    – clients that are very interested in talking, but not listening
    – the firm belief in unrealistic expectations
    – clients that are adamant they need a project completed but are resistant to giving you things you need to start (size specs, image files, production information, etc.)