I just read an interesting article by the awesome FriendlyHand, here's a quote from their journal about how to spot Good and Bad clients (there is also a section about spotting good and bad artists as well!):
ATTRIBUTES ASSOCIATED WITH A GOOD CLIENT/ JOB AD:
- Client seems polite and professional and reasonable.
- Client knows what she/he wants and describes the project clearly.
- Client has checked the advertisement for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
- Client mentions payment method and/or proposed payment amount(s). Amount seems reasonable.
- Client mentions deadlines if any. Deadlines seem reasonable.
- Client answers questions openly, honestly, and politely.
- Client provides contact information. A registered domain name and email can indicate credibility.
- Client provides image samples to demonstrate desired style if applicable.
- Client provides links to company website or previous work if applicable.
- Client has a long-standing DA account with no hidden activity or messages and has successfully completed previous jobs here.
- Client seems well established and has a history of polite professional interaction.
- Client is able to select a freelancer based on the artist's portfolio and written proposal.
- Client maintains good communication.
WARNING SIGNS OF A POTENTIALLY PROBLEMATIC CLIENT:
- Client does not clearly describe the project.
- Client is unwilling or "unable" to make a down payment before work has started. Makes excuses.
- Client will not use Paypal.
- Client has a history of unpleasant message board posts or has hidden comments.
- Client has a new account on message board and no evidence of a good reputation elsewhere.
- Client requests free "try out" or "test" artwork instead of making a decisions based on portfolios.
- Client promises a lot of future work but wants the current work to be cheap or free.
- Client's advertisement contains complaints about previous work relationships or other topics.
- Client seems angry, condescending, insulting, childish, rude or irrational.
- Client makes demands that seem unreasonable or unnecessary.
- Client mentions large sums of money or brags about wealth, talent or general greatness without providing proof.
- Client wants the work ASAP (sometimes with the excuse that previous artist has bailed) but can't pay immediately.
- Client tries to bully the artist into accepting unreasonable terms or changes to previously accepted terms.
- Client asks for financial information or excessive personal details
- Client sends you to questionable websites or "disguised" or "shortened" URLS
- Client requires you to sign up on another site to be considered for the job
- Client sometimes doesn't respond for days or weeks.
Good luck with your freelancing!