Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
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100+ Art Deco Fonts, Badges, Borders and Backgrounds – only $17!

2 December 2018 - 10:00am
100+ Art Deco Fonts, Badges, Borders and Backgrounds – only $17!

This week’s deal is on all the fonts, borders and backgrounds you need to make stunning art deco style designs. 

> Just take a look at this classic styling, all for only $17.

There’s a reason he was called the “Great” Gatsby and not the “merely ok” Gatsby. Art deco inspired much of modern design and remains utterly compelling in its own right. These fonts, border elements and backgrounds combine to let you harness this powerful and influential style for your own designs

This package retails at full price for $104, but for just a few more days you can get it at a savings of 87% for only $17

> Check out the deal here!

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<p>Client: Why isn’t this feature

2 December 2018 - 9:00am

Client: Why isn’t this feature working?

Me: In order to finish this app by the end of the day for your demonstration, I put in some filler content. All of your other main features still work.

Client: How long would it take to code the feature?

Me: With testing? It wouldn’t be ready before the end of the day. 

Client: If you guys don’t know how to code or how to get things working, I don’t want that to cut into the hours that I paid for.

Me: Talk to my supervisor. I’m just the designer.

Client: Okay.

The client in question was on a retainer agreement, where he purchased a set of hours for a discounted price. Turns out, his hours weren’t being logged very conservatively, and I wrote an iPad “app” in “three hours.”

I don’t think he had to worry about getting ripped off. I think we did.

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<p>Is there any way you can help my

1 December 2018 - 9:00am

Is there any way you can help my photo have a nose?

– A Not-So-Photogenic Client

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<p>I recently left a job after a year

1 December 2018 - 8:00am

I recently left a job after a year of working as a graphic designer for a guy who started his own business. He is very passionate and hardworking but sometimes has a hard time seeing things outside of his own fast-paced perspective. Since I quit, I’ve kept a working relationship with him as a freelancer. He is fully aware that in addition to freelancing, I also work full-time at two jobs and go to school.

Here’s an example of a conversation we have on a weekly basis.

Client: I have this project for you. When can you get it done?

God forbid he would actually ASK me if I can take on a project.

Me: Well, when’s your deadline?

Client: Can you have it done by tomorrow?

Me: I really require at least two weeks’ notice before a deadline.

Client: You’re killing me. Never mind. I’ll have someone in the office do it.

No surprise, in the last two months his entire creative team has quit and he currently has a staff of three.

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<p>Client: The design is great, but can

30 November 2018 - 9:00am

Client: The design is great, but can you make this color more of a purplish-orange?

Me: What?

Client: Like, I want it to be a dark neon.

Those. Are not. Colors.

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<p>Client: I have a file ready to print

30 November 2018 - 8:00am

Client: I have a file ready to print that a colleague designed. Can I have 1000 flyers for Friday?

Me: Sure, send over the file and we’ll print it right away.

Client: Here is the print-ready file.

 Attachment: flyer.xlsx

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<p>Me: We charge a consultation fee

29 November 2018 - 9:00am

Me: We charge a consultation fee that’s payable in either cash or check, as we can’t accept credit cards. 

Client: NO!  I don’t want a paid consultation. I just have some questions for the attorney about my case and want to see what I should do to move forward with it. 

Me: Yes, that’s what a consultation is. 

Client: Well, I don’t want to pay for it, just a free one. 

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<p>My wife was very sick and I had to..

29 November 2018 - 8:00am

My wife was very sick and I had to take her to the hospital. While my client could have easily reached out to the account executive to edit his event poster, he decided to call me three times back to back. Below is our conversation over text:

Me: Sorry, I can’t answer the phone right now. I have a family emergency – my wife’s at the hospital. Please call the account executive.

Client: But I also have an emergency!

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Deep Navy Trouble

28 November 2018 - 9:00am

Client: Can you make this item in a dark navy? I know it’s a custom order, but I’m a photographer and my client wants it to be navy.

Me: Sure, no problem!

I custom ordered a paper literally called ‘DEEP NAVY’ showed it to the client, finished the item, and shipped it.

Client: This is not going to work. It’s not navy enough.

Me: I’m not sure I can make it more navy, I ordered the most navy paper that was available. It doesn’t get any more navy than deep navy.  

Client: You have to fix this. It’s not navy enough. My client is going to be so upset. I’m just the middleman here!

Me: I can’t make it more navy, but I can offer you a full refund if you’d like.

Client: NO. That WON’T WORK. It needs to be NAVY.  This is going to reflect so poorly on me. MY REPUTATION IS AT STAKE. YOU NEED TO FIX THIS.  

I really did make an effort to find a paper that was … I don’t know, “DEEPEST” Navy, or “Approaching the inky blackness of the void but still somehow blue” Navy.  

…Then I remembered not to make other people’s problems MY problems.

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<p>A client once fired me via email,

28 November 2018 - 8:00am

A client once fired me via email, even though I’d left his office literally twenty minutes prior, for “not asking enough questions about him or his business.”

The thing was I was going through their office training, which was fairly comprehensive. It didn’t leave me with any questions to ask!

Also, I’d given up work to do this job.

Also, also, he’d re-listed the position after I had been there for one day, giving me exactly 8 hours to be a perfect employee.

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See your name in lights: Maddy Osman and building your bylines

27 November 2018 - 12:46pm
See your name in lights: Maddy Osman and building your bylines

Maddy Osman knows how to sell herself and her services. That’s because she started out in sales before becoming a full-time freelance copywriter and SEO specialist! In this week’s episode, she tells Kyle how she built her business by doing (gasp!) free work, and why sometimes it’s worth it for building that byline. 

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

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


Download here!

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<p>I was in my sophomore year as a film

27 November 2018 - 9:00am

I was in my sophomore year as a film student, attending a school that teaches a lot of great hands-on practical skills. At the end of that year, I could competently edit, shoot video, photograph, mix sound, do rigging, light the set, etc, and I was itching to put them to use.

As summer started, my professor shared that he’d heard an L.A. film crew would be shooting in our area for a few months. Thinking this would be a great opportunity to get some on-set experience, I emailed the head of the project asking for more information and asking if they needed any free help on set that could go towards an internship.

I didn’t hear back, which maybe should have been the first warning sign. Still, I thought “I really want this to happen. Why don’t I give it another shot?”

So after putting in WAY too much work, (contacting friends-of-friends of the crew) I finally get in touch with the guy I’d been trying to email, who says he didn’t receive my email. Not a big deal. I try talking to him over the phone, and we agree that he’ll give me the opportunity to work on his film project. He promises to email me more information and keep me updated and get me in touch with some people.

I send a few emails. Not one of them gets answered.

At this point, I decided to stop pestering these people. They clearly didn’t actually want me around, why keep putting effort into being in touch?

One month later, out of the blue I get an email from a random crew member I didn’t know.

Client: so um why wernt u @ the meeting yesterday

(I’m retaining the grammar/”style” of these emails; this is how these PROFESSIONALS actually communicated).

Me: I’m sorry? Nobody’s been in touch with me at all. What meeting? Where? I don’t know anything about what’s going on.

Client: But ur supposd to be here u need to be here timorrow @7 ok?

Me: Look, I really have no idea what you want me doing. I don’t have the shooting schedule, what my “job” will be, or any locations. I can’t do anything until someone tells me that.

After my response, I get this email back from the client.

Client: wow thats not what i heard and i cant believe ur lying lik this. U kno its rilly bad to flake out on this GRATE oppurnity – and u shuld be warnd I kno alot of film professinals who hate flakes llik u. i wouldnt want anythng bad to happn to ur businss but now…!!!!

I cut off the communication there. This was a legit professional with some actual credits to their name trying to threaten an a student who’d offered his services for free and then received no communications back.

I guess I did learn something about the industry on my “internship.”

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<p>Client’s secretary: [Client] needs

27 November 2018 - 8:00am

Client’s secretary: [Client] needs you to make a form. Do you have any time that he could come in and create it with you?

Me: I don’t think him coming into the office would be an effective use of time. If he provides sufficient direction, I should be able to create something really close to his vision and make minor edits from there. A lot of design is trial and error before I land on something that most effectively reaches your requests, then I would send for edits. Sitting with me while I work wouldn’t be a productive use of that time. I actually just did a form design for another client and it took only two email exchanges, so I’m confident that this can be done over email if he provides enough information and direction. 

Clients secretary: He really wants to come in and work on it while he’s there.

Deciding this wasn’t acceptable, I wrote him an email outlining what I’d told his secretary.

Me: I’m sorry, but we have a design process and that doesn’t fall into the scope of what our department does. However, I would be happy to work on his form if he provides direction in email and if I’m totally off-base after that, we can set up a meeting to go over everything.

I have a friend who works in the same building as this guy, and after reading my totally diplomatic email, he went on a tirade of screaming, “I’m the client and he shouldn’t talk to people this way.” She was on another side of the office and heard him clearly yelling my name. 

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<p>I’m majoring in graphic design

26 November 2018 - 10:00am

I’m majoring in graphic design specializing in illustration. My boyfriend introduced me to a client who needed preliminary redesigns for his family’s restaurant. For some reason, though, the client would only talk design with me when my boyfriend was there too.

Me: So here are a couple of proofs. What do you think?

Client: Don’t you think it’s a bit… feminine?

Me: Not really.

Client: Yeah… maybe we should continue this conversation when your boyfriend gets back.

Me: (ignoring that) Okay, I know you had your heart set on the example you gave me but if we stick TOO close to that we’ll look like copycats, which isn’t good. Why don’t we set up a date to really go over what you like about that logo?

Client: OK. When does your boyfriend get back?


My boyfriend isn’t the artist. I am. LET ME DO MY JOB.

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200+ Ready to use holiday vectors — 99% off!

25 November 2018 - 10:00am
200+ Ready to use holiday vectors — 99% off!

This week’s deal is on over 200 vector elements for the holiday season, just in time for December!

> They’re holly, they’re jolly, and they’re going to spare you the grind of another Xmas party invite.

December’s almost here, and that’s great. Really it is. But it also means your slate is going to fill up with Christmas themed design jobs for corporate parties, fundraisers, advertising campaigns, etc. That’s a lot of Santas, ornaments and snowflakes to churn out. Spare yourself some headaches with this premium pack of high-quality vectors that will make whipping up a few professional Christmas designs fast and easy. Heck, at only $9, consider it an early gift to yourself. 

The full suggested retail price for this bundle is $900, which… yeah, is crazy. But that doesn’t matter, because if you buy it this week it’s only $9. You’ll save that much on headache medication alone

> Check out the deal here.

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<p>I own a photo lab and studio where

25 November 2018 - 8:00am

I own a photo lab and studio where we do a lot of restoration work of old and damaged photos.  A client came in with a wedding photo of his parents shot sometime in the late 50s. It was in pretty bad shape and would take me a few hours to restore.

Me: To restore this with a new print will cost [X].

Client: Wow, that’s expensive. I don’t know if it’s worth it.

Me: Well, it’s up to you if the photo is important enough to have it restored.

Client: How about you restore it and I’ll decide what I’m willing to pay for it.

Me:  Uhm, no. This is my price to restore it based on the amount of time I’ll spend on it.  Also, I need payment in advance.

Normally I would wait until the job was done to collect payment, but at this point the red flags were too big to ignore. 

Client:  I’m not going to pay until I see if it’s worth the money, I know it’s all automatic on the computer so I shouldn’t have to pay much. I can just download an app or something that will do it, but I thought I would support a local business.

Me:  Well, it isn’t automatic. I have to do everything by hand in Photoshop. In this case, I’ll need to rebuild parts of both faces. That’s not an easy fix. If you can find a program that can do what I do as well as I do it, let me know. Not only will I buy it, but I’ll pay you for finding it for me.

Client: (blank stare)

Me: Do you want to leave the print for me to restore?  I can ring you up now.

He left without leaving the print. I never heard back from him but I assume he didn’t find a miracle app.

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projected work

24 November 2018 - 10:00am

Client: Can you screencast my screen so we can make real-time changes? 

In other words, “let’s run through 20 different versions and aimlessly change fonts until I find something that works for me.” 

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<p>I worked for a company who make

24 November 2018 - 8:00am

I worked for a company who make rubber stamps, among other things, for print. A client came in out of the blue one day.

Client: Can you make a rubber hand stamp for me?

Me: Absolutely! What were you looking for to be on it?

He then pulled out the service logbook for his car. One page was stamped, and he tapped it.

Client: This one.

Me: Uh… sorry, we can’t do that. It’s illegal.

He got quite stroppy about it, and started yelling.

Me: I’m sorry you feel that way, sir, but you can either keep yelling at me or you realize that I’ve seen your logbook, I know your name and the make and model of your car, and am more than capable of calling the police right now.

He left. I don’t know if he managed to get anyone else to do it but I don’t wish him luck.

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<p>We’d already built a website for a

23 November 2018 - 10:00am

We’d already built a website for a client with an online shop for different products. The next project was an Android App for them. The other interns and I had just recently finished our Android app basics course, so we still only knew, well, the basics. Now, no one else at the company knows anything about Android app programming and the one guy who ran the course was on a three-month honeymoon at that time. So basically there were the three of us, interns, who knew some basics about Android app programming.

Client: We’d like the App to contain several functions, as in a display of our products, a detailed view of every single product with information, a QR code scanner and a map with all our locations.

Me: Okay, even with our limited knowledge this should be possible but might take a while, when’s the deadline?

Client: Oh, we were thinking, in about two weeks?

Me: I’m sorry, that won’t be possible, we’ll need at least two months to create the first version.

Client: Come on, it can’t take that long, I’m sure it’s not that hard to do!

We still took the job and the Client agreed to give us a lot more time because it wasn’t urgent at all. Looking back, it’s been a year since we’ve started and we’re still not entirely done.

This one… may be on us.

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9 months of work and no pay!

23 November 2018 - 8:00am

I’m an animator with… lots of student debt (learning to animate is hard!) I graduated with distinction and am starting my career.

A childhood friend asked if she could hire me to create a character design for her upcoming kids brand last year… To me the project sounded exciting as it was for kids, it offered an open canvas to create, I got to design a character and I was going to collaborate with a long time good friend on something.

I worked with this person for nine continuous months, making changes, meeting, having lots of chats, designing, brainstorming, etc. It was great, except I realized that in all this time, I hadn’t seen a penny.

So I sent an invoice. Suddenly, the tone changed.

Client: I’m not paying that. 

In the same message, she sent revisions.

Me: Look, this is great, but I’m spending all my time on it and I’m carrying a load of debt… not just for my training, but for all the equipment that’s necessary for me to help you. It’s been long enough, I need to be paid. I won’t charge you full rate because you’re a friend, but come on. 

Client: Well, you can keep your “friendly discounts” to yourself. You’re off the project. I’m sorry, but this is to save our friendship.

Later, my “friend” announced the launch of anew property which… looks very familiar, except with a new artist. 

I don’t know whether or not to call them out online, honestly. They’ve got a strong following but I feel like I should share the lesson I learned.

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