In all the years of my freelancing career and indeed beyond this to entrepreneurship, there were several types of clients who kept popping up. I respect all clients and their concerns, but some of them made my life a living hell. Looking back I can think of ten things which clients have said or done which really took the biscuit.
1. Forget the deposit…I’ll give it all in the end
This is one of the most common things which an inexperienced client will try to slither into their slimy contract. For some unknown reason some clients think that a deposit is a minute detail which we can just brush over and that freelancers only ask for a deposit for comical effect or just to bug them.
One client stood out in particular when he said “What if you run off with the deposit?”. I found this especially funny because he had not taken a moment to even think about this and was utterly shocked when I replied “What if you don’t pay me at the end? Who will compensate the work I put in?”. This was a rare show of being absolutely blunt from me, however I feel once in a while we all do crack, especially back then, when almost every client was trying to force me into dropping the deposit. Try to maintain some professionalism for when someone says this to you.
2. Could you copy this please?
Most freelancers including myself, pride ourselves on our ability, skill and experience yet irony hits you in the balls when a client says “Can you COPY this?”. I become offended, to say the least! What did this person think I am before asking me this? An online photocopying machine.
The client I’m referring to was a friend’s client and didn’t just mean “I want your work to be somewhat like this” which would have been fine and civil. No no no! He wanted a copy, he may as well have said “Get a copy of copyright laws and burn them”. The only difference was that he wanted his own name as oppose to the name of the company he was copying. How thoughtful of him!
3. Do you do pro bono?
I only do pro bono to genuine charities who are working hard and need it. Why would I want to do pro bono work for a company who has money? I am shocked at the audacity with which they ask an established freelancer to work for free with no advantage to anybody except their own bloodsucking stingy company.
4. I need this done by tomorrow
If President Obama said this to Hillary Clinton, that is understandable since he is the President and she works for him (they also are running the super-power of the world!). I detest the way some clients will think that they have gotten to this level of importance and demand things to be done with ridiculous deadlines like ‘tomorrow’ or ‘on your holiday’.
If the rest of the world has days off and holidays, then a freelancer ought to as well. There is no reason why you should ever be bullied or forced to work on a day which you have planned to spend with your family etc. If the client is as rude to demand this from you when you do not wish to work then just stand your ground and refuse, there is nothing they can do.
5. Can you change this…oh and this…and maybe that, plus this…
It is understandable that a client will want revisions to the work you have done and two sets of revisions should really be offered in my opinion. There is also a limit to what a ‘revision’ includes and this is sometimes too difficult for some clients to comprehend. A client asked for revisions once and the example I gave her was this:
If I was a builder and had built you a shed in your garden and then painted it and you didn’t like one colour so you wanted a second colour painted on the shed, or if you wanted me to extend it etc I would be glad to do so. Would you however think it reasonable to ask me to take down the entire shed and build a different one twice? No.
6. I don’t know, I’m not sure
Understandably the client is not expected to know much about the details of what our work entails, however, for a client to not know the first thing about anything is truly irritating. When you ask a client “How many pages would you like designed?” and they say “I dunno…erm…whatever is needed”. I would be tempted to say “Take the joint out of your mouth and maybe speak to me when your not so whacked out?”. It honestly baffles me and sometimes I think that if you told this person that you would also need a cement mixer to ‘build’ a website they may just order you one!
Every client should provide a detailed brief of what they need. It is confusing to work with pieces of information or in fact, next-to-nothing.
7. Another freelancer was cheaper
Whoever says this to you is a cheeky bugger! I know that when you go to a second hand shop you may say “I saw it cheaper elsewhere” and this may pave the way toward a discount. Unfortunately there are many clients who think that when we reduce our prices as much as we can then using a pathetic line such as “another freelancer was cheaper”.
I simply respond by telling the client to go to the other freelancer, who is obviously desperate for work and will probably not do a good job. With my experience it is offensive to compare me to a good young freelancer who is just starting out.
8. Do my first project cheap…I promise more work in the future
This again is an easy trap which a client with a snake-like tongue will say with a hiss. I am not saying that they are lying just that they are almost definitely not telling the truth! Again, these type of cheap lines don’t work with my professionalism. I know that haggling is part of freelancing and every aspect of business but it gets up my nose when clients think that I would fall for promise of more work in the future.
9. I forgot to mention this…
A perfect example of this is when a client says something like “I need a 5 page brochure site” and when you have completed it he will say “can you just add a blog in” expecting it to be for free. Perhaps this client thinks that adding a blog is like adding soundtrack to your ipod. This may not be as bad as when trying to explain the reasoning to them they say “But its just a blog, can’t you just add it?”.
10. The recession killed me…I need more time to complete payment…
The recession killed everyone but that doesn’t mean a level of trust where we can hand over files without payment. This would be like suicide because you have put all the work in and now when you are going to be paid for it the client will not pay.
This could be a genuine excuse, but under no circumstance should you send them the project until full payment has been made. I would try to arrange a payment plan and then when the final payment comes through, and only then, send the project files.
Clients can be a pain the gluteus maximus. What is the most irritating experience you have had? How did you resolve it? Tell us below in the comment section, we would love to have a laugh at your stories and cringe at the rest!
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