Scale and the small business (freelancer grid)
The industry giants want tonnage. Undifferentiated, commodity-priced, regularly delivered, consistent work for hire. They’re not going out of their way for freelancers that are bespoke, artisanal or even ‘better.’ They simply want to meet spec at the best price. They can keep you very busy, and they might even pay on time.
There are a few rare birds, large potential clients that want freelancers who will give them something unique and hard to replicate. They know that what they want is scarce, and pay appropriately. Not many of them out there. If you find one, treasure them.
This leaves us with the last two categories:
By far the most common is the waste of time. These small businesses want to be (or pretend to be) industrial giants, but simply want commodity pricing, in small volume and with lots of last-minute changes. Obviously, the smart freelancer avoids these folks, no matter how well-meaning they are.
This leads us to the sweet spot. The client who wants you, with all your uniqueness, pricing and magic. The one who pays a lot and gets more than they paid for.
They will be easier to find if you look for them. And especially if you are actually offering unique magic.