Identifying Types of Clients by the Tone of their E-mails

Your perception game must be strong as a freelancer, especially when you would like to get referrals from clients. Many freelancers work with people whom they’ve never seen, and will probably never see, and this is one of the beauties of freelancing. However, it can also pose as a challenge because at least while looking at a person, you are most likely going to be able to figure out how they perceive you.

Does this potential client trust you or will you have to be super careful so he or she doesn’t tear down your roof, figuratively, with their voices?

Is this client overly enthusiastic about their work, so much that if I make even a little mistake, they’ll be sorely disappointed?

Is this a friendly client? Will he or she need frequent updates if it’s a long term project, or will they prefer less updates?

You need to be able to detect what kind of client you’re about to work with, as this often helps to ensure a smooth progression of the project at hand. If you’ll meet the client one-on-one, it’s easier to pick out their stance through their mien, and body language.

But when your meeting is virtual; mostly through mail/text? Sometimes that’s pretty hard.

Here’s a brief overview of the things clients say that show what they would want from you:

1. “I need this project to be ready for the printers…”

What this signifies is thoroughness. This client is trying to explain to you that there’s no room for mistakes. Over-creativity might not be appreciated, yet you need to go the extra mile to ensure there are no errors. Editing must be tight.
2. “I’ll like to get updated as the work progresses…”
For this person, the final product is important but they are probably thinking about the project day and night, and it would help if you gave updates while working. Not all clients are the same and so while some need to be updated on a daily or weekly basis, some would see this as disturbance. It might be more tedious to give frequent updates, but if a client requests for it, they are likely to appreciate the extra touch you’re putting into keeping them in the loop. This friendly gesture could be rewarded with even more jobs, or referrals!
3. “I’m not sure, I apologize in advance for…”
When you have an apologetic client, it’s either you have a lot of work to do, or they are simply unsure. Either way, this client is less likely to be knowingly over-demanding (emphasis on knowingly), but they might be perfectionists, so keep in mind the possibility of several revisions!

4. “I have worked with someone before and was disappointed with the quality of their work…”
Based on this phrase alone, you are dealing with a skeptic, not necessarily because they are natural skeptics but because they’ve had to deal with someone who didn’t perform up to their expectations. What this means is that in addition to your desire to do a good job, you must ensure that you properly understand the requirements of the job or the standard against which you are held. There must not be an iota of miscommunication here if you would like to keep to your image of professionalism.

5. “Please do what you can to turn this idea into a finished product…”

A statement along these lines is likely because the client trusts you enough to wield your expertise and create something beautiful. It means you can employ your creative license to the best of your ability to deliver a top-notch job. This is one opportunity you should never pass up in your freelance career, as it is sure to be associated with glowing reviews, referrals and most of all, a deep sense of satisfaction at having performed an excellent job.

How do you figure out what a client wants from the tone of their e-mails?


6 Replies to “Identifying Types of Clients by the Tone of their E-mails”

  1. One client really disappointed me
    What made it worse is that he is a pastor
    He called me in, took all my ideas, started using them
    and didn’t close the contract with me.

    I just felt, okay now, tomorrow is there
    One you are done using all the ideas I fed you
    You are going to have to look for someone else to leach on
    I just became more careful, giving out no ideas until the contract is signed.

    He cheated me. But it is his word against mine so I just need to be smarter.

    In all, sign that contract except you already know the person you are dealing with
    and they value their reputation

    Being a Christian, I will never drag anything with a Christian. I will walk away and leave it for God
    He knows where the wells are.


    1. This must have been really hurtful; especially since you trusted him! In all, as freelancers we need to be careful to treat our work with professionalism (like you said sign the contract). Thanks for sharing and sorry about the hurtful actions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is it possible for someone who believe in divine health to get along with a medical doctor who believes her text book?

        Well, we will see. If we can walk together and disagree.


  2. Great article Peju. I found this piece insightful. Now my eyes are primed to read between the lines and align with the temperament/expectations of any client. Weldone.

    Liked by 1 person

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