Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 50 min ago

How did you vote?

25 January 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: How did you vote?

Me: Uh…

Client: Never mind, I think I know. 

Me: Well…

Client: Once you finish this phase of the project, I think I might go a different direction. 

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2400 Vintage vector illustrations for $17 — 93% off!

24 January 2021 - 4:00pm
 

This week’s deal is on over 2400 vintage illustrations from classic textbooks, prints and other sources that have been scanned, cleaned and formatted as fully customizable vector images!

> They’re super cool, easy to use, and make for a great design.

Look. You’re a wiz with Photoshop and Illustrator, and a pretty solid draftsperson to boot. People love the way you draw, and your designs are clean, professional, and attractive. What you are not, probably, is a classically trained illustrator who specializes in scientific diagrams of flora and fauna in pen and ink or lithograph. This is a very specific skill that is always in demand. This bundle gives you scores of fantastic vintage illustrations that are easy to slot into designs to make them better

Normally it would cost you $228 for all 2400+ illustrations (and honestly? Bargain), but for the next few days, you can save 93% and get every last one of them for just $17. Sell one t-shirt with one deer skull illustration (for example) and you’ve already made your money back. 

> Check out the deal here.

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Takes one to know one

24 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I’m not happy with this website. The writing is terrible.

Me: I didn’t write it. This is all content you gave me. 

Client: You didn’t fix it?

Me: I fixed the spelling errors but I’m not a writer or an editor and it wasn’t part of our contract.

Client: Well then why did I hire you?

Me: To design and put together your website. 

Client: Isn’t the writing part of the website ?

Me: No. 

Client: I feel like you’re trying to win on a technicality. 

Takes one to know one. 

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I want it to be mystical, but more realistic…

24 January 2021 - 2:00pm

A few days ago I did photoshoot for a pole dancing school. The shoot was for three coaches, and I was supposed to shoot them as they danced, demonstrated moves, etc.

The schedule of the day was always to begin taking natural shots, and when that was done I would swap out the lights for some moody portraits. 

Half an hour into the shoot and the first coach said that she had to go. I’d already taken a number of photos, so I let her know I would send her what I had but that she wouldn’t get anything from the second set. She left.

Two hours later, I finished the rest of the natural shoot and changed the setup for the moodier shoot. That went well, and after a couple of days where I edited everything I sent them off. The first coach, the one who left early, responded: 

Client: Hey, can you make photos of me look like moody/mystical photos you took of the owner?

Me: I can try, but that was a very different lighting setup. 

After some dodging, burning, and other Photoshop magic, I came with something that looks like she wanted. Her response:

Client: I want it to look more natural.

1) Moody/mystical and “natural” are pretty different vibes 2) you left partway through the shoot. I don’t know what you want me to do for you.  

 

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“I had to edit your document, so I’m going to pay you less”

23 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Had a client that was incredibly cost sensitive from the get go.

They recently sent me a brief for a complicated writing project. I began, and it became clear that the scope of the project was larger than I realized.

Me: This is a much bigger job than I expected. I’m going to have to incrementally increase my quote. 

Client: Fine, I guess.

Eventually I finished the project. She sent me a number of small revisions – she was very exacting – and I made everything even though I was already over my budgeted time. 

After sending in my invoice, I got this back from the client:

Client: It took me two hours to look at what you sent. Normally it would take 10-15 minutes. Perhaps we can compromise and I’ll pay you half of what we agreed?

It took you longer because it was a big project – that doesn’t mean you get to pay me less. 

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Brand new idea

23 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I have at great idea for a website. It will be like Facebook, but for professionals.

Me: So… LinkedIn?

Client: What’s that?

It was then that I started to wonder if this client was the businessman he said he was.

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Would you like a seat?

23 January 2021 - 2:30pm

I had a client who liked to meet at coffee shops. He was a real coffee snob, and every time we met he would suggest some out of the way place that charged $6 for a pour over coffee and took me 50 minutes to get there. I proposed alternate spots a few times, but he would dismiss them with “this place is really good, let’s do that.

The last straw was when he proposed we meet at coffee shop that was at the end of a weird street peninsula, where two road forked. It had very limited space, so all the seats were lined up bar-style. I got there on time, but he was there already… sitting in the only open chair in the place.

He made me stand and talk to him in the middle of the coffee shop floor while I presented my ideas for the next print project.

Never again. 

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So, just update the font maybe?

22 January 2021 - 4:00pm

A client wanted a new logo to rebrand a business acquisition:

Client: Make it new while traditional, fresh but conservative, there are no limits to what you can suggest but keep it close to the original!

I think I’m just going to update the font. 

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Request for 5 minute Oil Paintings

22 January 2021 - 3:00pm

A bride called and asked if the artist I work with can do oil paintings at her wedding.  He does wedding paintings.  She liked the ones on the website.  They take 25 hours to do one. 

Client: I want a painting of each guest they can take home as a memento.

Me: That’s a massive job, and I don’t think anyone on earth could do it.

She also complained that $2500 for an 18″ x 24″ oil painting was too high. 

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Gross guru

22 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I fired a client one time because they screamed at me over the phone for “screwing up” a revision they’d asked for and totally miscommunicated. 

I was at a major design conference the next year and noticed their name on a panel – they were discussing “how to build strong relationships with employees and contractors.”

I actually attended for five minutes to confirm they weren’t saying “here are my mistakes, learn from them.” Nope! They just acted like a cool-boss guru type. 

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Love your work but…

21 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: You know, the only reason I hired you is because you were cheaper than the other bids I got.

Says the guy who self-published a book about the a-hole behavior he subjected his wife to, and how her love helped him overcome being an a-hole. True story. 

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Vacated

21 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: (texts) I need you to start working on another site. Please *lists full quota of information about colors, info etc* 

Me: Do you want me to prioritize this over the other work you asked for?

Client: Stop texting me I’m on holiday

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Real business

21 January 2021 - 2:19pm

I was meeting with a client who was going over the details of their business plan.

Client: Sorry, that must all be gobbledigook for you. I forget not everyone is a business person.

Me: Oh no, I followed it all! I’ve been running my own freelance business for six years, after all.

Client: Right, but this is a REAL business.  

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The measure of grief

20 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I had a deadline coming up for a client I’d worked with for some time. The deadline was internal, and if it was put off it wouldn’t massively inconvenience anyone. That week, my dog, Walter, passed. He’d been sick for a while and I knew it was coming, but I was devastated. I contacted the client via email to let them know that I was grieving and that while the project was in good shape, I might not be able to complete it by the end of the week like we’d previously agreed. 

I wasn’t expecting their response.

Client: I’m sorry for your loss, but that is unacceptable. Dogs die, and you just have to move on. You agreed to this deadline, and it’s not my fault your dog was sick. You knew that when you took on this job. I expect you to be professional about this. And don’t think I’m being a jerk about this – if it was your mother or someone I’d give you all the time you need, but this is a pet. 

I guess paying someone three digits for a job gives you the power to determine what grief is legitimate. 

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Launch date

20 January 2021 - 3:00pm

Client: I want a social media campaign that helps bring people to our restaurant launch. 

Me: Sure! When is the launch?

Client: Tomorrow. 

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“I’m the boss, you do what I say”

20 January 2021 - 2:00pm

I was recently hired on contract to do blog content for a company. I’d met with a number of contacts at the company who were all lovely, had a sense of the work I was doing, and ready to help me do a great job for them. 

Then I met with the department head. I was initially hired by the marketing manager, who was great, but she was the director of communications and had stepped in to demand that she be my contact. 

The meeting was a lot.

Me: Nice to meet you!

Client: So what do you have planned?

Me: Oh, here’s what I was thinking.

I described the content strategy I’d developed in conversation with my previous contact.

Client: No.

Me: No?

Client: We’re not doing that. We’re doing this. 

She laid out an entirely different marketing campaign on social media, implying that I would be taking photos and editing image macros – things that I don’t really do.

Client: I’ve had arguments about this with [marketing manager] and I expect you to do what I say. I’m his boss, so now I’m your boss. This is the plan.

1) You’re not my boss – you’re my client. There is a difference. 2) Not for long. Clearly this whole situation is toxic and I’m going to get myself out as soon as I can. 

Ever met a client that made you want to turn to the hills and run? Tell us about it!

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“Not my problem” = “I’m making it your problem”

19 January 2021 - 4:00pm

Client: The photos in this brochure are pixelated.

Me: That’s because you insisted I only use photos you gave me, and the highest resolution file was still only 120 kb. 

Client: That’s not my problem. Fix it. 

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More is better?

19 January 2021 - 3:00pm

A client asked for sales page copy. They sent a very precise template from a marketing guru which I spent three hours dissecting and followed exactly. I used copywriting standards while maintaining the brand voice i.e. lead with benefit, focus on the customer, concise text, call to action, etc.

They didn’t respond at all. Eventually, their business partner reached out and told me “that’s not exactly what she wants. I’m having the previous copywriter send you a template.”

Me: Great! Happy to take feedback

Those templates:  FOURTEEN PAGES  of drivel, mostly talking about the client.

I spent a couple hours basically just free-writing anything that came to mind and delivered four pages of “inspiration porn.”

Client: I love it! Can you add in these 4 other things about me?

I’m getting paid but I will never include these in my portfolio.

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You’re the expert, but…

19 January 2021 - 2:00pm

Client: You’re the expert, but I want to run it by my friends.

Client: You’re the expert, but my friends didn’t like it and have some suggestions.

Client: You’re the expert, but let’s do something completely different from what you came up with. 

Is “you’re the expert” the new “no offense”? You can’t just say it and assume it does the job. 

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Now I’m the crazy one

18 January 2021 - 4:00pm

I was hired by a psychotherapy firm to create a website. Now, weeks later, they still don’t agree with each other on the colors, fonts, layout and animations we approved before. Eight versions later and we are still debating if the Facebook icon on the right or left properly conveys all society’s mental health political issues or something like that. 

The whole process was so terrible that now I feel like I need therapy. Just not from these people.

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