The 3R’s to Successful Client Screening (And why it matters!) By Jennifer Brown Banks

The 3R’s to Successful Client Screening (And why it matters!) By Jennifer Brown Banks

“Time is money.”

Good, solid clients are the cornerstone of any successful freelance business; whether you’re selling widgets or words. Because no matter how many writing leads you land, or gigs you garner, if you have difficult clients, or those that don’t pay as promised, your business will operate in the “red” and ultimately fail.

This is why knowing how to screen potential clients properly (and recognizing warning signs) is crucial to your longevity and profitability.

And, I should know. In my many years of operating as a writer-preneur, I’ve been bamboozled. I’ve been burned. And, I’ve consequently learned. For your protection, you should too.

Keep in mind that ”time is money.” The less time you spend in chasing unpaid invoices, engaging in collection activities, and trying to repeatedly reason with clients who lack an understanding of key issues to complete a project, the more efficiently you can operate.

Today’s article is purposed to shorten your learning curve, expand your selection savvy, and work smarter in times ahead. Pencils ready?

Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey used to advise women that there are always “red flags” that serve as potential warning signs when dealing with romantic relationships, and predicting chances for success. A similar principle prevails when working with clients.

Far too often we concentrate all our efforts on being “chosen” and far too little due diligence in partnering with the “write” clients. All money is not good money.

Accordingly, here are the 3r’s to screening your clients for less stress and optimal earnings. Watch out for the red flags.


Often, I meet with clients who, by all accounts, are lovely, optimistic people. The problem is, they have very little foundational knowledge about the publishing industry, protocol, and what a professional, creative arrangement should entail. In other words, they have champagne taste on a beer budget. Or, they desire maximum results with minimal contributions on their part. Or, they expect to sell 100s of books in a nanosecond. Or, they believe that writing a book will automatically catapult them to talk-show fame. If only it were that simple!

Being rooted in reality makes for less stress and more progress in terms of planning and execution. To this end, as part of my “on-boarding” process, I have potential clients fill out a survey to screen and assess their short- and long-term goals, and to identify what they require of me as a service provider. I would advise the same for you.


Everybody’s busy these days. True? Still, professional courtesy dictates that emails, phone calls, or text messages be addressed in a reasonable time-frame for the best results.

Even in the initial stages of communicating and connecting, if it takes weeks/months for a potential client to answer relevant questions, provide needed information, or make up their mind on simple marketing options, it’s highly likely that future projects could move at a snail’s pace, cause unneeded drama and unnecessary delays.

You‘ve been warned.


The queen of soul said it best in her popular song: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”
In every relationship (personal and professional), there will be some degree of give and take. Respect should be non-negotiable. And, in the infancy of my career, I admit, I didn’t always demand this. I worked with clients that used profanity-laced emails; or paid me at their convenience; or those that didn’t value my time or credentialing. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Doing so made me feel frustrated, de-valued, and disempowered. But, thankfully, I‘ve evolved. We teach people how to treat us by the things we accept, according to Dr. Phil. I learned a valuable lesson here. Believe it to achieve it.


These 3 principles and practices are keys to long-term success in operating as a freelancer in today‘s times, and in cultivating harmonious, professional relationships.


JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, columnist, publicist, and poet. For more than a decade, she has serviced clients from an aray of industries and backgrounds. Learn more at her award-winning site for writers:


Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


One Response to "The 3R’s to Successful Client Screening (And why it matters!) By Jennifer Brown Banks"

  1. Karen Lange  February 2, 2024 at 10:36 pm

    Yes and amen, Jennifer! Thanks for these timely and evergreen tips.