I garner a fair amount of work from online sources, and I’ve found that there are a couple of universal red flags when it comes to bidding on projects or quoting a job. I’ll go into some of the others later, but the big one is “Budget is a concern.”
While I understand that money is an issue in a lot of situations, if a person upfront about the budget being the primary concern, I’ve discovered that 99% of the time I don’t want that job.
If a prospective client makes it plain that budget is #1, then that’s precisely what the main concern is going to be. Not the design. Not the process. Not the thought that goes into the work. Not you. The money will be the main concern and will always be the main concern. And that’s really not a great way to start a relationship.
I don’t want my work to be all about the money. I want to make money. I want to be paid what I’m worth – but I also want the design and the art and the craft to be at the heart of it. If the client is only concerned about the dough, all the esoteric stuff is out the window. And that’s no fun.
The other issue with this sort of client and project is that it often turns into a situation where you get locked into a low bid and you wind up working way, way too hard for the money you are getting. They’re concerned about the dollar. Not much else.
This might be a generalization, but I’ve found that my worst clients over the past 10 years have been the ones that come in needling for low-ball quotes and bids.
Don’t chase the low bids. Don’t bid on projects that say “money is tight” or “we’re a startup, so budget is low.” You might unearth a diamond of a client – but more often than not, you’re stuck holding a lump of coal.