Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
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User Submitted Post

15 May 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: It’s still supposed to be black and white, but can you make it, like, more colourful? But still black and white. If you know what I mean?

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14 May 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: Hey! Another hi-res image request. Is this something you could squeeze in your schedule today?

Me: Possibly. What do you need?

Client sends a 400kb image.

Me: What do you want me to do with that picture?

Client: Hi-res?

Client: Is that easy to do?

Me: That’s not how images work. The original photo needs to be high res. I can’t make a low-res photo high-res.

Client: OK, no worries! thank you

At least she was understanding about it.

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User Submitted Post

14 May 2019 - 1:00pm

I got a project from a freelancing website.

Client: It’s about a day’s work. I’ll give you $500 when you complete it.

Now, I know a thing or two so I insisted on a deposit of 50%. He agreed and paid me $250 up front.

I finished the project in seven hours. When I showed it to him he was really nice and happy with it.

Client: Great! Now send me the finished version and I’ll pay you. 

I know it’s a mistake to give someone a finished version before you’re done but he was so nice and had also paid my deposit without question, so I sent it.

Client: Thanks!

Then I never heard from him again. The freelance platform was no help either, for the record. 

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User Submitted Post

13 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a writer. Once a month or so I will get an unsolicited enquiry, and more often than not, this is how it always turns out.

Client: Hi. I was searching through this site looking for a novelist. I think I have an excellent concept to share, but I wouldn’t have the skills to put it into a book. Can you help me?

Me: I certainly can! What sort of story would you be looking to tell? And what’s your budget for hiring a writer?

Client: Thank you for your time.

Needless to say, I prefer emails from my agent.

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User Submitted Post

13 May 2019 - 1:00pm

I had a client who needed me to copy t-shirt designs from lo-res, 500px images. He sent me the images and I had less than a week to recreate them from scratch. I finished two and sent them in.

Client: The second one looks bad.

Me: OK. I can work on it, but I’ll need a day.  

Client: I need it immediately.

I mentally tabulated how I could get it done before tomorrow. Who needs sleep, right? 

Then I sent in the third design. The original image had distressed text, which I duplicated.

Client: No distressed text. Fix it. Immediately. 

If you are not willing to communicate properly then don’t get mad if its late!

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1800+ High-res background patterns for $9! Save 99%!

12 May 2019 - 3:00pm
1800+ High-res background patterns for $9! Save 99%!

This week’s deal is on over 1800 high-resolution patterns that will perk up your website backgrounds, packaging designs, posters and more!

> They’re cute, fun, and 99% off.

Tired of boring old solid colors when filling in the spaces of your designs? These patterns are dynamic and fun, and easy to drop into any of your existing designs. All 1805 are unique, repeatable patterns that make it easy to create something vibrant and adorable! Each pattern features a theme like flowers, animals, or food and they look great. It’s not hard to imagine the possibilities here.

What’s more, at only $9, or 99% off the full asking price of $1260, buying all 1805 will only set you back the price of two premium coffees. That’s a TON of value for a price you’ll be able to turn around in no time. 

> Check out the deal here.

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Wanted the fired designer’s work

12 May 2019 - 1:00pm

I was working with a client who told me that he’d fired the last designer because “his designs were terrible.” Hearing this I followed his design brief to a T.

After submitting the logos, the client got back to me:

Client: I’m not happy with this. You haven’t captured the essence of this project at all. 

Me: Maybe you could give me a photo inspiration to give me a more clear idea of what you’re looking for? 

Guess what he sent me?? That’s right, the fired designer’s logos.

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more realistic

12 May 2019 - 12:00pm

I’m an illustrator.

Client: this is a good start, but make it more realistic.

Me: OK, can do.

Two days later I sent a very detailed, realistic illustration. 

Client: Can you make it more realistic?, I want it to pop out at you.

Me: Alright, I will work on that. 

I sent a third, photo-realistic finished piece.

Client: No, I need more realism, but this is a good start.

Me: I cannot do more realism without it looking like a photograph, it will lose its illustrative quality.

Client: Yes! That’s what I want, really realistic looking.

I sent a fourth, hyper-realistic trompe l’oeil version that took two additional days

Client: What is this? is this a photo? This looks like a photo, if I wanted a photo I would just buy stock photos.

I sent the first version again.

Client: YES! YES! Thats it, you got it!!


Client: Now just make this one look realistic…

Fired. I got my initial payment but lost HOURS.  

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I’ll take nothing for nothing, Alex.

11 May 2019 - 2:00pm

While trying to get full details of a communication spec from a new client, I asked several questions. Questions like:

Me: Why were some of the arbitrary parts of the spec in French, forcing me to use Google Translate? 

I was given partial source code as an answer, so I asked more questions about the missing bits. Finally, the client responded:

Client: Could you ask your questions in the form of answers?

Me: Uh… Okay. “The format of the message header is _____.”

Client: You didn’t fill in the blank.

Me: Right. That’s the part I don’t know. I was hoping you could fill it in.

Client: We need you to provide full answers to your questions.

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User Submitted Post

10 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I’m a video editor and agency sit-in edits are the worst. Half the time they are on their laptops doing other stuff and not paying attention. This happened the other day: I was working on a video and making some slight alterations.

Client: Can you move that text right a bit?

Me: Sure. 

I finished what I was doing and played it back just to make sure it had been fixed.

Client: Perfect!

I hadn’t moved the text at all. They just need to make changes to validate their presence.

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User Submitted Post

10 May 2019 - 1:00pm

When I was starting out as a freelancer, I was hired to do a brief round of assistant-editing on a low-budget documentary about Spanish culture in Los Angeles. It had been in production for at least 2-3 years before I came along and was in its “final stages.” When the client hired me, he talked a mile-a-minute at me about how this would be a quick and fun project with a promising future. I should have noted he didn’t give me ANY technical details about what I would be doing.

At the end of his carny pitch:

Client: So what’s your price? Give me a quote. 

I naively presumed I could do whatever he wanted me to do within a week or two.  I knew he was running a low-budget operation, so I meekly asked for $1000. He accepted.

He then asked me to write out an elaborate two-week daily schedule of how I would clean up about 30-40 hours of documentary footage that sprawled across dozens of Premiere bins (with hundreds of duplicate clips to be sifted through). I started and he proceeded to badger me via text message every single day about how closely I was following my schedule, micromanaging every little detail. 

When I was almost finished he came up with a whole new list of things to do. Finally, I submitted my invoice and he balked:

Client: Why should I even pay HALF of $1000 for work that was late and complete?

Not sure what to do, I went to my business manager. And by “business manager” I mean “my mom.” I’m not sure what she told this guy but in the end he paid me $1200. 

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User Submitted Post

9 May 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: Hey, so I just saw that you lowered your price, but what’s the absolute lowest you’ll go?

Me: Right now, what it’s listed at.

Client: Figures, you’re just trying to flip it to make a profit.

I was selling the time at $30 LESS than the normal market price.

Me: If you can find it cheaper somewhere else, I’ll match that.

Client: It was listed for $X over on eBay.

Me: Can you send me a link? I can’t find it on eBay.

Client: Well it’s not there anymore but that’s how much it was

I stopped replying after that.

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User Submitted Post

9 May 2019 - 1:00pm

I’m a video editor. I was working on a project for a client who is an amateur videographer (which means he films his family’s weddings.)

I sent him the first draft, and instead of sending back comments, he re-edited the entire video, changed all the graphics to white text on black.

Client: Edit it just like that. 

Of course, at that point, not only did he create tons more work for me, as I had to go through and figure out what he cut, but also, why did he even have me do this project?

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User Submitted Post

8 May 2019 - 2:00pm

The client here is an office ward of a big city in Japan.

Client: Could you do this pamphlet translation? How much will it cost?

Me: Yes. It will cost XX per character.

Client: Our budget is very small, can you do it for YY per character?

Yeah, yeah I know, you have the money but you don’t want to give it to freelance translators that are working on their sofa while watching TV…

Me: OK, as it is the first time I’m working with you I’ll accept this time and this time only. 

Client: By the way, after the translation, you also have to check the pamphlet for layout problems.

Me: Fine, but that will cost additional fees. It’s not included in the translation work.

Client: If your translation has to be revised, will that cost fees as well? 

In Japan, there is always someone in office that likes to “revise” translations. Or, in other words, “mess it up.”

Me: If there is a problem with my translation, no. But if someone in your office revises correct parts of my translation, I will charge you to retranslate, yes. 

Client: Okay, thank you.

Me: Does that mean I’m hired, or…?

Radio silence. Good riddance.

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User Submitted Post

8 May 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: I’m running this great offer that I want you to promote for me.

Me: Great, just send me the details and I can send out an email campaign and push it on social.

Client: The offer is *details* but I’d rather you not send out any emails or put it on social – we don’t want our competitors to know we are running an offer. Can you promote it under the radar?

Me: You want me to promote an offer but not advertise the fact there is an offer…

Client: Exactly!

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The Adventurous Type

7 May 2019 - 2:00pm

I was hired by proxy as a character designer for an eastern-European game developer who’d had some success.

This was the original briefing:

Client: We want a strong, solid female character. Young archeologist, don’t fall into Lara Croft, nor feminine Indiana Jones. Heroic, the adventurous type.

Just that. Nothing else.

I send the first draft.

Client: This looks amazing. I have some suggestions, nevertheless.

The suggestions, in about 10 to 15 revisions, included things like redrawing the right boot heel with a 10° inclination, adding half an inch (proportional of course) to the satchel long, switching the angle of the light (?), and restructuring her nose bridge in a few pixels wide with three different MS Paint images.

This went on. What broke the camel’s back was this:

Me: I can’t be doing more revisions. You keep returning the demos with lots of little insignificant changes, based on nothing sent on the original brief.

Client: This has to be perfect, and it gets more and more difficult to work with you. You keep missing the major key of the character. She’s not heroic nor adventurer yet. It’s you who is wasting our time.

Me: What? I designed a young female archaeologist, clearly strong and self-confident. Adventurous and heroic.


Me: You didn’t tell me to draw a redhead!

Client: It’s pretty obvious that if she’s heroic she has to be a redhead. I can’t believe I’ve gotta tell this to you.

I asked the proxy if I could be harsh firing the client. She said yes.

I’m happy now. 

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It doesn’t work that way

7 May 2019 - 1:00pm

Client: I don’t get it. The website’s up – why aren’t people visiting it? 

Because you need marketing too, duh. 

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side gigging

6 May 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I need {additional work X} done. It’s urgent.

Me: Sure, that will cost {X}.

Client: That’s way too much.

Client: (turning to the artist in the room, who is an employee of my company) Can I hire you this weekend to do the work for cheaper? Do you think we can use these offices?


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documentary film from hell

6 May 2019 - 1:00pm

We were doing post-production for a documentary film.

Client: We didn’t get releases to show any of the people in these scenes. You need to obscure their faces.

Me: Okay, we can apply a blur and track the—

Client: No, that will look like COPS. We don’t like that.

Me: We can try darkening the faces, but it won’t look natural in the lighting—

Client: Just obscure the faces of everyone in these shots but make it look natural.


Client: When do you make it look like a real movie?

The film was mostly shot on cheap video cameras. We try to explain things like frame rate and depth of field to them.

Client: What about the gamma?

Me: Sure. When we color correct your film, “gamma” is one of things that the colorist controls—

Client: Yes! That. Put the gamma on it.

Later still.

Me: These graphical text elements you provided are outside of title safe. That means they will be cut off on some TVs, and it will also fail QC.

Client: That’s how we designed it. Needs to stay that way.

Me: Okay, but it will 100% fail QC.

Client: We know what we’re doing.

Soon after delivering, we start getting panicked calls followed by a string of threatening emails.

Client: Our text is outside of title safe! You failed to properly explain this to us! Fix it immediately.

Me: We’re fully booked up today, but we’ll help you as soon as possible of course.

The clients showed up at our office, staged a “sit-in protest” in our lobby, and refused to leave until we dealt with them. We stayed up all night making changes to their film.

The next morning, we fired them.

That same week, they were fired by other vendors for similar reasons.

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Nail that vintage design look with 1200+ elements for $17!

5 May 2019 - 2:03pm
Nail that vintage design look with 1200+ elements for $17!

This week’s deal is on 1200+ vector elements in a vintage style!

> They look great, and your clients will love them.

The vintage look isn’t going away anytime. Line drawings and classic printing techniques communicate authenticity to your clients and their customers – which is ALWAYS a good thing. This collection of over 1200 illustrations, brushes, banners and more makes it easy to throw together a fantastic vintage logo, poster or website in minutes. Save yourself time and effort while making your clients happy with this huge collection of versatile elements.

Normally everything in this bundle would cost $280, but for the next week you can get all 1200+ brushes, illustrations and other elements for only $17, a savings of 94%. If you’ve had ONE client who asked for a vintage look, you know you’ll make that money back in no time with this bundle.

> Check out the deal here. 

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