Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 35 min 18 sec ago

Same reason, other angle.

14 November 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: You require 50% payment up front? What if we don’t like what you do?

Me: That’s why you have to pay me up front.

Client: I don’t understand.

Shocker! People like to be paid for work. Has this ever baffled one of your clients?

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Interpret for the wind

14 November 2020 - 3:00pm

I work for an interpreting agency where various companies and establishments request to have an interpreter present to help communicate with their clients. I received a call from one of those clients:

Client: We had an interpreter help us last week. I need to know what time he finished his assignment.

I pulled up the job on our system and noticed we haven’t received the completed time sheet for the interpreter’s services yet. Usually, either the interpreter or client send that in to us for billing purposes.

Me: Okay, well I don’t have the time sheet but do you know who was present and/or signed the interpreter out? They might know.

Client: I signed the interpreter out but I left early and he stayed. I just need to know his end time.

Me: You signed him out but you weren’t present? Usually, the client signs the interpreter out AFTER they’re finished with an assignment. Who was there after you left? 

Granted, I should’ve specified “who did he interpret for if you weren’t there?”

Client: No, it’s fine, I just won’t submit this to my boss. [hangs up]

So, apparently this client had an interpreter interpret for… nobody?

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It’s perfect except for…

14 November 2020 - 1:58pm

I’m a graphic designer and one steady client I have is this promoter who hires me to make posters for all her shows.  

First, she sends me thumbnail photos of her talent and wants to use this in full sized posters. She has no idea what “high res” means.

I usually contact the talent to ask them for higher res pics, but the promoter lady usually hates them.

I design the poster, send it to her, and infallibly, every single time, she sends it back with more or less the following comment: 

Client: I love it honey! If you just change the pic, the font, the colors and the layout, it’ll be perfect!

Eventually, I stopped fighting. I now do everything she asks for and gave her very specific instructions to not tell anyone who’s designing her posters. I refuse to have my name associated with the crap she puts out… but I still got bills to pay.


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Everybody’s working on the weekend

13 November 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: We love this design, but feel free to play with it over the weekend.

Wheeee! Here I come, back to my office on Saturday to aimlessly edit your already-approved flyer just for fun!

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I disagree though

13 November 2020 - 3:00pm
Client: I understand you need to make a living but I don’t think you need to make THAT much

The post I disagree though appeared first on Clients From Hell.

I’ll bet

13 November 2020 - 2:00pm

In a meeting about a new website:

Client: We’d rather start off being very successful.

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Mission creep

12 November 2020 - 4:00pm

I haven’t worked full-time as a graphic designer for years, but still do CD covers, website graphics, posters, and print and web ads for friends in the local folk music community on a very low-key word-of-mouth basis.

I got a call last week asking for a simple update to a CD cover I’d done a year or so ago, as the client was releasing a single from the album.

Client: I don’t need the design changed at all. I love the poppies we had, but I just want to change the photo we used because there’s a field of different kind of flowers in the new music video I just made.

Me: No problem. All I have to do is replace one layer in the Photoshop file. What kind of flowers do you need?

Client sent a Word file with a dozen photos of flower fields and the links to the photos online.

Client: I can’t decide between these and I don’t remember which ones are free.

I copy and pasted all the links to see the photos, and chose three likely candidates. Client chose one and happily didn’t balk at paying for the pic. I swapped out the new photo into the appropriate layer and presto! I should have been done.

Client: I don’t know if I like the tall cosmos flower being on the right. What would it look like if you turned it around?

I mirrored the layer and sent it back.

Client: But now I can’t see enough of the sunflowers in the foreground.

I Photoshopped another bloom into the foreground.

Client: I don’t know. Now I can’t see the tall flower because the song title is on top of it.

Which is why I chose the particular photo in the first place… it went very nicely around the typography of the song title. I undid the mirror and put it back the way it was.

Client: Where’d that other sunflower go?

I put that extra bloom one more time on the other side.

Client: You know what? The sky in this picture isn’t as blue as the sky was the day we were shooting the video. Can you make the sky bluer?

I got a photo of a gorgeous bright sky with puffy clouds and drop it in behind the flower field.

Client: Oh, that’s perfect! But you know what? I need to have the publishing info for the songwriter added to the picture. Can you fit that in?

I resized the ornamental text frame, erased some background to accommodate the larger size, and added the publishing info.

Client: I don’t know if that’s big enough. It looks awful small. The website where I want to run the ad has small ads.

Me: Oh, you hadn’t mentioned that. What size are the ads?

Client: I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to call them and ask.

Me: I’ll go to the website and download their ad specs.

I did so. The ads ARE small. I changed the publishing line. Everything fit and was legible. 

Client: This is great. I just need to have the running time of the song in there for the ads to the DJs.

I resized the ornamental text frame again, erased more of the background to fit the new size, and added the song time. I should totally be done now.

Client: I need one without the time for the ads on the industry website.

Fortunately I never used the original for my working copy, so I still had the one without the time. I figured now I’m done.

Client: Maybe I should have the record company website in there too.

I went back to the one without the song’s runtime, shoved some text around, and added the record company’s URL. Am I done yet?

Client: Can I have the one without the record company website too? I might need that.

Like I said… I never mess up the original file. This is why. I wonder if I’m done?

Client: These are wonderful! Please send me copies of all of them in the right sizes for Facebook and Instagram and Twitter too. Oh, and you’re going to bill me, right?

Why, yes, now that you ask. Yes, I am.


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send first confirm later

12 November 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Here’s the brief & SOW.

Me: Got it, so you confirm the proposed budget?

Client: Can you submit a draft first? Then we’ll decide later.

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Social Media brief

12 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Can you provide me the influencer’s Facebook & Youtube INFOGRAPHIC?

Me: I wasn’t aware they had an infographic. Is it attached in an earlier email?

Client: No, it’s not an attachment. You know – their core audience.

Me: Their demographic?

Client: Whatever.

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List read

11 November 2020 - 4:00pm

Client: I know it’s a table, but I don’t want it to “read” like a table. It should “read” like a list.

Me: I mean, it’s a list in a table.

Client: You know what I mean, though. 

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11 November 2020 - 3:02pm

While doing in-house freelance at an agency in late 80s.

Client: We would like to offer you a full time position. We can pay you $XXK per year.

Me: (thinking, that is low wages) What benefits do you offer?

Client: Benefits?… It’s up to you to keep your teeth clean.


Boo. What kind of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” nonsense has a client said to you?

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NO whitespace!

11 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: There’s too much white space on this postcard! I don’t like it.

Me: Well, white space isn’t a bad thing.

Client: I want it filled up with text. NO whitespace! 

Me: Well, on the edges there isn’t enough room to have text.

Client: Well, drop it down to 5 pt. font and write vertically. I HATE whitespace.  

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Red Flag Check List

10 November 2020 - 4:00pm
A potential client called and proceeded to check each of these red flags off in one call:  
  • Asked to call 30 minutes after I said I was available
  • Emailed late and said he’ll call in 10 minutes
  • Called 17 minutes late, from his car
  • Immediately asked if I’ll do stuff without charging
  • Wanted to pay 30% of my rate
  • Said anyone can do my job
  • Asked if I can do it in my free time at his rate as a favor
  • Said big funding will eventually materialize

I’m guessing it’s not going to work out between us.

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Forgot to send the files.

10 November 2020 - 3:00pm
Me: Any update on those files you were going to send last week?   Client: Oh yeah! I forgot to send them, here they are.  

Client: Oh and one more thing, we need it done by this Friday now, okay?

This project was supposed to have a 3-week deadline, they sent the files a week late and now expect it done in 4.5 days? 

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What a surprise

10 November 2020 - 2:00pm

Client disputing revision charges.

Client: I didn’t realize the feedback I gave in our meetings actually counted! 

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From garage band to concert hall for creatives: Brent Weaver on freelancing in the Deep End

9 November 2020 - 7:53pm

The difference between playing in the garage and playing in an arena is one of finding your audience. Sure, you can stay in your garage and have your mom tell you you’re great, or you can get out in front of a crowd and find out what they like. 

On today’s episode, Brent Weaver of explains how a creative freelancer can apply this insight to freelancing, by getting out there and finding the right clients for you, sharing the same strategies that have helped hundreds of consultants get ahead with with host Kyle Carpenter. Check it out!

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

Think you’d be a great fit for the show? Let me know at

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

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magic coffee

9 November 2020 - 4:00pm

I own a cleaning company specializing in nightly rental (AirBnB type) condos at a major midwest tourist destination.

One of my clients is a businessman who owns and operates a coffee company in a small city. He provides coffee, equipment, etc to local businesses on his “route”.

He decided to place one of his “high end” coffee makers in his condo so that his guests would not have to pour in the water, as the coffee maker held approximately 32 ounces of water to be used to make coffee until it had to be refilled.

One day when he was visiting his own condo, I received a call.

Client: Hey  you need to tell your housekeepers to quit pouring out the water when they clean the condo.

Me: What do you mean?

Client: Every time we come here there is NO WATER IN THE COFFEE MAKER.

Me: Don’t you think your guests are making coffee and using the water up?

Client: No, there’s no water in it so clearly you’re pouring it out when youclean the condo.

Apparently, he believes that this coffee maker miraculously creates water out of thin air and that no one EVER needs to actually pour water into the reservoir.

So now when we know he’s coming, we just top it off. He hasn’t said a word.

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Client expects me to be ok plagiarising a site

9 November 2020 - 3:36pm

A client asked me to use another site as a template for theirs. I built a site using that cue, replicating the look and feel but not making it exactly the same.

Client: The font is different than the example! Change the font.

I changed the font to the exact same.

Client: The menu looks a little different.

I copied the menu exactly, clenching for what I knew would come next. Little by little, the client kept asking for incremental changes to make the site EXACTLY like this other one, asking me to basically steal the design by degrees.

 I’m thinking of shifting to daily billing for revisions. 

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Make it pop

9 November 2020 - 2:23pm

I recently agreed to do a logo for a new chocolate and soap company started by someone I knew. She gave me zero information on what she wanted. I designed 2 modern concepts that I thought fit her business.

Client: This is okay, but it needs to pop. Make it pop.

And no, she couldn’t be more specific. It came out that her 12 year old grandchildren didn’t like the designs. 

Eventually after days she sent me a design she found on Google and wanted that. I sent her something similar that wouldn’t fall under copyright. 

Client: No. Just use what I sent you.  

Client fired.


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Reinvigorate your design toolkit with 197 premium fonts for only $15! 99% off!

8 November 2020 - 4:00pm
Kick off the new year with 197 premium fonts for only $15! 99% off!

This week’s deal is on a massive collection of new fonts to play with – perfect for injecting some variety into your designs!

> The quality and diversity of these fonts are both very, very high. 

Whether you live and breathe fonts or you just want a few options so you’ve got the right tool for the right job, you’re going to find a lot to like here. 52 premium font families, 197 unique fonts. I’m enamored with the stately elegance of Golden Bird, the warm and inviting script font Just Because, the austerity of Elena and the stylish brutality of Knowhere, but you’re going to find a few new favorites here

Buying every one of these premium fonts separately would normally add up to $1163, but this week you can get them all for $15 at a savings of 99%. That’s chump change for this much variety in your toolkit. Don’t miss it.

> Check out the deal here. 

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