Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 13 min 54 sec ago

<p>Client: (after 4 emails of me highly

25 January 2019 - 12:00pm

Client: (after 4 emails of me highly trying to talk them into using fewer words on their billboard ad) Just do what you’re told. The design I sent you will work.

Me: …Fine.

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<p>I’m a designer with 25 years of

24 January 2019 - 1:00pm

I’m a designer with 25 years of experience. I both design and build websites in WordPress. I created a mockup of a site for a new client and submitted it for review. The client didn’t like the design of the header.

Client: I don’t like the top area of the page. Show me something different. Try to look at it through the eyes of a designer.

I’ll see what I can do, asshole. 

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<p>I&#8217;m a freelance building

24 January 2019 - 12:00pm

I’m a freelance building contractor. I gave a quote of 300€ to build a well on a site. 

Client: It should be less than that. You don’t have to do everything from zero. I’ll give you 100€ which is three times more than the 30€ two other guys quoted me (I can show you their texts if you don’t believe me).

Why would I believe those texts if you’re not already choosing those contractors in the first place?

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<p>A close family member emailed me at

23 January 2019 - 1:00pm

A close family member emailed me at 7 PM on a Sunday.

Client: Hey, sorry to bother you, but I have something I need to be translated by 10 AM by tomorrow. Can you do that for me, please?

Me: Sure!

I’d done similar requests for him before. They were always quite short and easy so I assumed this one would be too.

Ten minutes later he sent me a five-page long contract, full of legal terms and expressions, to be translated.

I finished at 6 AM, sent the translation, slept two hours and then arrived late for work.

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<p>Client: I want to report a blocking

23 January 2019 - 12:00pm

Client: I want to report a blocking priority 1 bug.

Me: What is it?

Client: You remember that logo I gave you to put on the site?

Me: Sure. The site isn’t live yet though.

Client: We want to use another logo.

Me: That’s your priority 1 bug?

Client: Yeah.

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<p>I’m a CAD-Drafter freelancing for a

22 January 2019 - 1:00pm

I’m a CAD-Drafter freelancing for a construction company. The client is a big company modernizing their headquarters. After a month of work, I send the client my blueprints for approval. 

Client: Everything looks fine. Can you change these colors, though?

Me: Sorry, no, those are standardized colors defined by a DIN standard. From what I can see you want to use colors that are reserved for totally different technologies.

Client: It’s really important that you use the colors specified in the previous mail. Those are our company colors and we take our branding very seriously!

Me: I don’t see the importance of branding as these plans are only used for construction and maybe repairs by skilled workers. Besides if something was to happen due to somebody reading the blueprints wrong I’m liable. 

They still keep insisting on the changed colors so I decide to contact the construction company. My contact tells me that they’ve had similar problems and that he’ll just send them a ludicrous quotation – citing my extensively increased workload (essentially 20 clicks) and the short deadline – to knock the idea out of their head. The next morning he calls me back.

Contact: So I’ve got good and bad news. The good news is that that’s probably the quickest you’ll ever make 8000€…

Fortunately, the building hasn’t burned down yet. Point taken: Never underestimate the love of management for their branding.

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I want to hire you for free

22 January 2019 - 12:00pm

I do some freelance photography work on the side to help fund my photography hobby. I’ve done a couple of small shows for a couple of friend’s bands, and have gotten some great feedback on the photos that I’ve taken. One of the local promoters took notice of the traction I was gaining with the local scene and this exchange ensued.

Client: I’m putting on a battle of the bands over the next couple of months. Would you be interested in taking pictures?

Me: Okay – well that’s six shows, each show is about 4 hours and I’ll need to do about 6 hours of editing and sorting per set. I’m definitely interested, but since it’s such a large undertaking I would need to discuss compensation.

Client: Ok. Cool. Well, don’t do it if it’s an ordeal.

Me: It’s no ordeal – I can get a contract over to you to sign by tomorrow.

Client: If it’s a pain don’t worry about it.

This is where I realized he wanted this to be done for free but wasn’t saying it outright.

Me: It’s not a pain, it’s just the time involved. I enjoy doing it, it’s a side job for me though.

Client: If you have the free time come down, if not no biggie. Everything we have for budget is tied up in the show.

Translation: come shoot it for free anyway.

Me: With editing, each show is at least 8-10 hours of work for me – if I’m going to do that, I need to be paid. I’m into the event so I’d be willing to do it for $150 per show, which is really cheap for what I’m doing. If you want I can put together a contract for you and you can have a look.

Client: I completely understand.

No, you don’t.

Client: It’s a lot of work to take pictures all night.

The photos are the easy part.

Client: I personally don’t do contracts of any kind. So sending me anything wouldn’t matter.

Translation, I still want you to come shoot for free, and I’m terrified of contracts, so I won’t agree to one because I don’t want to be legally bound to my end of a deal.

Me: Contracts are pretty great. They just make sure everyone holds up their end of the deal.

I never heard back.

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Why there are NO clients from Hell: Rachel Gertz and managing people!

22 January 2019 - 11:43am
Why there are NO clients from Hell: Rachel Gertz and managing people!

At her company Louder Than Ten, Rachel Gertz teaches clients how to manage projects; that means getting lots of people on board, on task, and on message in a hurry. She firmly believes that there is no such thing as a client from hell for one very simple and surprising reason that she shares in the episode! 

Need a lift to your day? Rachel is endlessly upbeat and positive and has some winning strategies that will make you better at dealing with clients AND yourself! 

Today’s links: 

Want to support the show?

This episode is brought to you by, an infographic design service that transforms raw data into clear, interesting images. You can see their work on Clients From Hell

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

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Download here!

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User Submitted Post

21 January 2019 - 12:00pm

Client: We don’t like the design of this page.

Me: Okay, can you describe or give an example of what you might want to see here instead?

Client: We’re not designers, that’s why we hired you.

I mocked up a few different options. 

Client: We don’t like any of these. Can you make it pop more? We don’t want it to look like text on a page. We want it to really sing. Can you add a pop of color?

I added a pop of color. 

Client: We don’t like that color feature. Can you remove that?

This went on and on for months.

We should have known it would go this way. In our first meeting the client complained about working with “difficult” programmers, which is a bit of a #redflag.

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21 January 2019 - 11:00am

Client: Hi, I need VFX done for this feature film we just finished editing.

Me: Great! Can you send me an NDA for me to sign and a link to the locked edit so I can review the work?

Client: No, I don’t trust people, but you can come to my Hollywood apartment so I can screen it for you!

Me: (already starting to slowly back away from gig) Riiiight…

Me: Just to double-check, what’s your budget for this project?

Client: About $40 per shot.

Hard pass. 

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2000+ Pro design elements for 99% off! Only $12!

20 January 2019 - 12:00pm
2000+ Pro design elements for 99% off! Only $12!

This week’s deal is on an enormous bundle of tools for every occasion! 

> Seriously, it’s got something for everybody, and for every occasion. 

As a designer, your jobs have recurring needs. Every February you need some Valentine’s material, every summer you look for a tropical look, every Black Friday your clients need new marketing materials and you’re ALWAYS looking for great textures to elevate your work! This bundle covers all that and more with over 2000 professionally designed elements that you’ll use time after time, year after year. The gold metallic textures alone are worth their weight in… well, you get it

All the elements in this bundle retail separately for a total of $1600, which is insane, but for the next week you can get all 2000+ for only $12 — which is also insane, but in a good way! 

> Check out the deal here! 


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Turd Ferguson

20 January 2019 - 11:00am

Client: Check your email. I sent you something funny.

Me: Um… weird, but okay?

I checked my email and the client had sent a photo of his toilet with a big turd floating in the water.

Me: Why did you send me this?

Client: Tell me that’s not the biggest shit you’ve seen his year.


Client: Right? 

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Brochures – the social media of the 21st century

19 January 2019 - 12:00pm

Client: Our focus for the coming year is getting more leads. We need to get the word out there about what we do. 

Me: OK! Let’s optimize the website and run a brand awareness campaign to bring people into some targeted landing pages…

Client: I really don’t think we need the website for this. I have some new brochures bring printed at the moment. That should do it. 

Me: ….

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Turn 360 degrees and leave

19 January 2019 - 11:06am

Client: Can you do something with that graphic of the triangle?

Me: Yes of course, what do you need?

Client: Flip it 360 degrees.

Me: Uhm, do you mean 180?

Client: No, 360.

Me: Sure…

I flipped it 180.

Client: Yeah! That is exactly what I wanted! I don’t know why you didn’t believe me.  

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freaking magnets

18 January 2019 - 11:00am

Client: Please include our brand’s themes of nature, business, and magnets.

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<p>For several months I worked on a

17 January 2019 - 12:00pm

For several months I worked on a moderately large e-commerce website. The site had been online for thirty minutes when I got an email from the client:

Client: Please remove the “soon online” message from the website.

Me: I’m not sure where that you’re seeing that. Could you send a screenshot or a URL so I can see where the issue is?

The client then pasted a google search result link where that message was still in the preview.

Sure lady, I’ll just call Google and have them update the text for you.

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Times New Roman, Extra Bold

17 January 2019 - 11:00am

Client: I want the logo to have a modern feel.

Me: Sure, I’ll create some mockups.

Skip ahead to next week.

Client: I like it but it isn’t quite what I had in mind. Can you just use Times New Roman in extra bold? I really like that font. I use it on everything.

Me:  (struggling to comprehend this request) …?

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<p>I’m a graphics designer at an ad

16 January 2019 - 7:41pm

I’m a graphics designer at an ad agency in Germany.

My client repeatedly asked me for various changes to the designs that were not allowed according to the company’s corporate design guidelines. Eventually, the following happened:

Me: Sorry, these specific changes are not permitted by the design guidelines.

Client: Can’t you just use another program that will allow these changes?

Turns out they thought “corporate design guidelines” were some kind of design software, and that every time we told them we couldn’t do something it was because of technical limitations in our software.

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16 January 2019 - 12:00pm

Client: Can you make these elements the same size?

Me: The one platform is much smaller, so not without making the other one smaller.

Client: I know they’re different sizes, that’s fine, but can you increase the small one to match the size of the large one?

Me: …

I actually like this client a lot. Charming, straightforward & accommodating. We all have moments where we need to roll our eyes.

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Just practice drawing until you’re good!

16 January 2019 - 11:00am

I mostly do illustration as a hobby, and I do very few small online commissions. My brother-in-law decided to approach this holiday season to draw for his friend’s newly-designed board game.

Client: So my friend made an amazing sci-fi board game, and the mechanics are basically done. A publisher has contacted us, but we still need an artist. The only artists I know are you and my [12-year-old] daughter, but my daughter’s too scared. You know board games are credited for both their game designer and artist. Think of the fame.

While he’s explaining the game mechanics to me, I’m imagining the tons of illustrations they would need, let alone designing original characters and assets for everything. And of course they’re implying they want free/cheap art, since they want me to do it for exposure AND they thought asking their young daughter is a good idea. I ask to see what else they’re doing about it.

Me:  I don’t specialize in the style you’d want or designing sci-fi things. Why don’t you look for artists online?

Client: Well, my friend has been going on to this site where freelancers bid to take on projects and share samples. But they’re all from India, and my friend’s not happy about the samples he’s getting.

Me: (questioning the credibility of the site, and these guys’ respect for artists and designers) …

Client: Why don’t you just do it? It’s not that hard.

Me: …it takes time to design a cohesive style for characters, ships and whatever else. You want everything to look like the fit in the same world. 

Client: Look , say I want to draw a character with goggles, but I don’t know how to draw goggles. Just go on google and keep drawing a pair of goggles, until you’re confident with drawing goggles on your own.

There were so many things I wanted to say him after that line, but I generally dislike talking to him for other reasons. I just wanted to leave ASAP. Basically, I just felt awkward every time I was in the same room as him for the rest of the holiday. 

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