Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 2 hours 52 min ago

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: The Big Book of Font Combinations — $13!

9 August 2020 - 3:00pm
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: The Big Book of Font Combinations — $13!

This week’s deal is the return of an invaluable resource for designers  — The Big Book of Font Combinations!

> This is useful whether you’re an expert or a newbie designer.

The Big Book of Font Combinations is a historic deep dive into the font pairings that have defined design since Gutenberg created his print press, delivered as a 100% Vector, fully searchable PDF! This text features 370 pages PACKED with inspirational combinations that will make you a better designer! Learn about the history of your craft, or just shamelessly swipe combo ideas from the greatest designers the world has ever known. 

The Big Book of Font Combinations retails for $25, but for just a few more days you can save 48% and only pay $13. That’s a small price for a resource you’ll use time and time again. 

> Check out the deal here.

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You’re Hired… And Living Paycheck to Paycheck

9 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We’re so glad that you’ll be joining our team! Our business has become really busy lately – it’s a local favorite because we provide awesome service.

Me: Thanks, happy to be here. Just to confirm, we agreed to an hourly rate of XX per hour, correct?

Client: Yes… We wish we could pay you more, but none of us are really making it here. We do the best with what we’ve got, but as a small business, we can’t afford to pay our team any more than a basic living wage. We give small raises of maybe 75 cents to a dollar more an hour every few years, though.

What an inspiring welcome as I build my career….

The post You’re Hired… And Living Paycheck to Paycheck appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Going nowhere fast

8 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a voice-over artist, and this is the end of a conversation I had recently with a prospective client about the first audiobook in a series of short stories.

Client: In terms of pricing, your site says “$X per 50 words.” How does that work exactly?

Me: Correct! For this project, base rates would be per 50 words of the script, as we agreed upon earlier.

Client: Per 50 words? and do I have to count small words like “a”, “the”, or “in,” or do you only count long words?

Me: Correct, all words in the script would be totaled.

Client: Seriously?

Me: Yes, it’s the way rates are calculated based on size.

Client: Those are barely even words!

Me: To be fair, it takes the same amount of time to say the words “in” or “the” as it does to say “scream” or “strength”. It’s just a way to price your project. 

Client: I’m willing to pay $5-10

Me: The script you attached is nearly 10,000 words.

Client: Way less if you don’t count the small words.

Me: Best of luck!

The post Going nowhere fast appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Being Fired Due to Cancer

8 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I recently worked on a team with a memorable co-worker, who had been in our industry for over 20 years.

He was one of the most respected employees on our team, for his in-depth knowledge and ability to build solid working relationships. He consistently met or exceeded goals in terms of sales and follow-up with prospects.

He told me and our team a story that was heart-wrenching. (I knew others he worked with from years ago, and they confirmed this is what happened.)

About 5 years ago, when he was a long-time employee for a different company, he was diagnosed with cancer and made every effort to overcome it.

The owner of that business was a known jerk. According to stories I heard, he put a ton of pressure on his employees and lacked compassion. The proof? When he found out that my coworker had cancer, he FIRED HIM. 

My co-worker survived, in part because his spouse was still working, and then moved on to our company, where he’s been a highly valued contributor to this day. But hearing this story changed how I think of bosses and clients to this day.

The post Being Fired Due to Cancer appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Let’s Just Circulate This Proposal Internally

7 August 2020 - 3:00pm

As part of my work on a consulting team that was focusing on re-energizing a brand for a Client, my manager asked me to create a proposal with some new themes and ideas to explore. I created a stylish guide with new creative concepts and strategies that I wrote and designed.

We sent the proposal to the client for their review.

Client: Thanks for this. We’ll review and get back to you.

I didn’t hear feedback for a couple of weeks. Then, I heard this:

Manager: This is kind of weird, but the Internal Team decided they’re going to work on ideas for the future of their brand themselves, so we’re no longer needed for that project.

We were disappointed, as my manager thought the creative work that I submitted was inspiring and useful. I was paid for my work on the proposal.

A month later, I checked out the Client’s social media pages, and their recent fundraising e-mail campaign.

They used a lot of the work that I submitted, but the biggest difference is they took credit for it. 

The post Let’s Just Circulate This Proposal Internally appeared first on Clients From Hell.

A Challenging Environment

7 August 2020 - 2:00pm

A friend who was getting a Ph.D. in Physics wanted my advice on creating a website. I admired his tenacious personality and his intelligence, so I was happy to discuss my ideas and knowledge with him. He asked me to visit him at his place, that he was sharing with some other people.

When I visited him, it was the middle of an icy winter and he lived in an interesting situation. Let’s just say that he was not so much a client FROM hell as a client IN hell. 

Me: It’s great to see you.

I was shivering due to the cold temperature in the house.

Me: Um, it’s really cold here – would you mind turning up the heat?

Client: We don’t have heat throughout the whole house. Can’t afford it. I can bring over a portable heater, though.

Me: OK. Thanks.

Later in our meeting….

Me: Hey, I’m going to get some water. Do you want some?

Client: Don’t use the tap. It’s not suitable for drinking. The well water is filthy and could be poisonous. That’s why we drink water from the water cooler.

Me: Oh – thanks for letting me know.

After our meeting…

Client: I’m glad we could meet at my place. I had to have the tire replaced on my car the other day, and I could barely afford it. Us grad students barely get paid anything.

I was stunned that this client was living in such a dire manner, as he was one of the most brilliant minds I had met. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to get paid much for consulting with him for his website.


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Don’t Fall for It

6 August 2020 - 3:00pm

It’s desperate times, fellow designers, but don’t be too eager for a job that it ends up costing you money.

I’ve been targeted by scammers twice in the past month via text message. I believe they got my number from Creative Hotlist where I (used to) have my phone number listed. I got the first text on April Fool’s Day, appropriately enough.

Client: Greetings. I’d like to know if you offer graphic design services. Let me know how you are doing?

-Robert Jack.

I know, I know. I should have run right away. But I thought maybe English was his second language and he preferred an American alias, so why not just reply in case it was a real offer.

Me: I do. May I ask who referred you so I can thank them?

Client: Thanks for the quick reply. I need visual identity and catalog design. Can you take on new projects? I came across your info on Creative Hotlist.

I asked him to email me with details of his project request, which he did. He sent two PDFs and, although his furniture company name seemed lame (Woodrx?), I said I’d put together a bid. Naturally, I bid quite high and stated that I required 50% down. I figured that would be the end of it. He replied immediately.

Client: I got your estimate. Pricing looks good I’d like to proceed. As for payment I’m presently in Delaware for medical purposes I’ll pay with my card.

Me: Okay, great! I’ll draw up a contract. I’ll need you to sign it before we proceed.

Client: What accounting software do you use?

Huh? If you’re paying by card it shouldn’t matter. He says he can only pay through QuickBooks. I should have run then but I figured it would be easy enough to create a QuickBooks account.

Contract sent, contract signed, QuickBooks account created… and then the rub. An email with the subject line: Assistance Needed.

Client: I got in touch with the project consultant but I’m having a little issue with him regarding my agreement with him, I’d signed the agreement to make cash or bank deposit to him for his payment but due to my present condition I was diagnosed with lung cancer and will undergo a surgery soon so I’m limited and I won’t be able to do that. Kindly send me an invoice of $7,590 in which $2490 will be your payment for the job and $5000 you will help me forward to the project consultant so he can release the raw files for the catalog to you. You can keep $100 as tip. Once I make the payment and you have funds in your possession then you can help me forward to him. I will balance upon job completion.

$%#@! I’d allowed myself to be a player in a two-bit scam as old as online transactions. I quickly replied that I don’t funnel money and that the contracts were void, I voided them in Quickbooks and ignored his pleading emails that it was all on the up-and-up.

Two days later, I got another text that was exactly the same that “Robert Jack” sent from “Bob Donald. I never replied.

Fellow designers, take note. This “person” is truly a Client from Hell.


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User Submitted Post

6 August 2020 - 2:00pm

My wife and I have a stained glass business. We teach and make custom pieces for clients. Some of the glass we use is called dichroic glass and it’s pretty expensive. Nothing goes to waste. If we have any small pieces left, we melt them in a kiln and make jewelry with it. A woman walked into our shop:

Client: Do you have any dichroic glass scraps? I can buy your extras for $20.

Me: Sorry. Suppliers online want hundreds of dollars for that amount. 

Client: But I read a guide that said I could buy cheap scraps from businesses like you!

She was disappointed when I told her I would not sell her glass at a huge loss.

The post User Submitted Post appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Charity work is so rewarding.

5 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I’ve been pro bono work for a charity recently. I created and updated a website, ran the social media (whenever they remembered to send me any updates, which was never), and even get involved with fundraising.

The founder is… not tech-savvy, but this text conversation (verbatim!) took it to a new level…

Client: Hey [my fairly common name misspelled] I need access to the account now so I can see who has donated to send a thank you email

Me: [my actual name, for the 100th time]*. The PayPal login is [this] and the password is [this]. 

Client: How do I login? Lol!!!

Me: Open PayPal and click login.

Client: The donate button on the website?

Me: No, the PayPal website.

Client: What is PayPal?

Me: Are you joking?

Client: No, can you send me a link?


Client: [googly eyes emoji]

Several minutes later I receive a screenshot of the PayPal login page. It seems the founder has locked us out.

Helping a charity is good, right? RIGHT?

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You Know What’s Trending and Cool – Right?

5 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I had recently graduated after studying art and print production and was doing freelance design work. I agreed to meet with an old family friend who said he was interested in picking my brain for advertising.

Client: We’re thinking about designing and creating new product variations based on these niche trends. It’s expensive, but it might work out. It’s very unique. What do you think?

Me: That’s not really my area of expertise, but I guess that could probably work. 

Client: What do you mean? Do you think people will like the designs? They could be more memorable than what’s already out there. There are a lot of details involved, though, that would take a while to design and develop. What would you do here?

Me: I mean, I’m a print designer, not a manufacturing designer. I don’t know, maybe produce a small amount and test them out to see if people like them?

Client: It takes a lot of time and money to develop a new product design like this. We need to make sure it’s worth our time.

Me: …and you’re asking me if it is? 

He got angrier and angrier the longer the meeting went on because I wouldn’t just say “yes, you should do this.” If he really wanted someone to just say “yes” than he would have gotten just as productive a response from the kid who mows his lawn.

Or, you know, an actual product analyst. 

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How creatives can crush crowdfunding: Nalin of Crush Crowdfunding

4 August 2020 - 6:45pm
How creatives can crush crowdfunding: Nalin of Crush Crowdfunding

For many of us, crowdfunding holds a certain magical allure. It’s the silver bullet, the golden ticket, the decision that can change EVERYTHING… IF we can get it together to finally put together that dream project.

For Nalin Chuapetcharasopon, crowdfunding is a part of everyday life. That’s because she runs Crush Crowdfunding, a consultancy that helps businesses succeed on platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. She talks with host Kyle Carpenter about why freelancers absolutely SHOULD be thinking about how to get a product crowdfunded – and why it’s not as easy as you might think.

Topics include: early adopters, crowdfunding strategy, and how to start building crowdfunding buzz BEFORE you debut! 

Today’s links: 

  • Theme song by!

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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You Mean – We’re Not in the 80’s Anymore?

4 August 2020 - 3:01pm

I discussed potential digital marketing opportunities with the manager of a big business in town. I saw a path to a significant ROI, but the client didn’t understand the value of what I was presenting.

Client: We’ve already done a lot of marketing ourselves.

Me: I see that, but a lot of it is very outdated. Effective marketing changes over time. Your primary strategy is outdoor billboards, and I think you need to turn your attention to online spaces.  People are very influenced by what they see online, via e-mail campaigns, blogs, events, and more. Traditional marketing techniques still have value, but if you aren’t exploring these other avenues you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

Client: We’ll think about it.

Months later, I found that they posted a job listing for a “Secretary” with “social media skills.”

To this day, I drive by the same cheesy billboard. It has garish colors straight out of the 80s and hasn’t changed in three years. 


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You Know, ON BRAND

4 August 2020 - 2:00pm

When I started out in my graphic design career, I accepted a project with a team focusing on marketing a rather abstract concept. They hadn’t done much graphic design or marketing work before for their organization. My first assignment for this client was to design a banner for an event – under some shaky circumstances.

Client: Sorry this is last minute, but can you design a large banner that we’ll print for an event that’s happening 5 hours away? We’ll have it printed near the event center so we can pick it up on the way there.

Me: Uh – well. I guess we could make it work. If you want to be in charge of the print logistics to make sure it prints how you want it, within your timeline. I can’t guarantee how it will turn out, but we can try.

Client: Sure, sure. I’ll go ahead and start talking with the printer about what they need and when.

Me: So, how would you like this banner to look? Besides the basic info that you sent?

Client: Just make it look on brand.

I had the Client’s font and a couple of main color options, but other than that, they didn’t give me any information about the overall vision or message for the banner.

I suppose they were hoping for the best, since most things just “happen on their own.”

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User Submitted Post

3 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I freelance as a web designer/developer. A new client, a lawyer, engaged me to design and build a new site for a start-up she was launching.

Client: I want this site to be really striking. Bold, warm, rich colors, eye-catching! Here are some images I love that have the sort of colors I’m after.

She sent me several stock photos of spices and vegetables. She was right – they were definitely bold and eye-catching and I quite liked them. I developed a palette from these colors and put together a rough design mock-up.

Client: No, it’s too much. I didn’t actually want those colors on the site, it was just a guide. Here are some more photos of colors I like.

Well, she did ask for those colors on the site but I bit my lip. The new photos were more of the same. I tried to compromise, reducing the use of the bold colors a little, introducing some more white space, and muting some other colors a tad. I sent her the redesign.

Client: No, no, no. Why are you using those colors? That’s awful!

We parted ways and moved on. Months later I took a look at her launched site. The color palette was a very cold, very bland, very common 20-year-old white/black/blue corporate combination. Nothing at all like her brief to me. C’est la vie.

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Making Money Out of Thin Air is On You

3 August 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We can only pay you around xx per hour. That’s not enough to live on, though.

Gee, thanks for telling me? So I suppose it’s my responsibility to figure out how to make up the difference between starvation wages and a livable, decent full-time wage.

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Get vintage with 329 retro vectors for only $17!

2 August 2020 - 3:00pm
Get vintage with 329 retro vectors for only $17!

This week’s deal is on over 300 retro-styled vectors that will save you time and money when making logos!

> There’s a lot here for $17. Sell one logo to one client, and you’ve made your money back. 

You don’t have to redesign the wheel with every logo. If you’re looking to turn around a fast job with a limited budget, then having templates ready to go will save you time and money. This set of over 300 rustic elements gives you what you need to make a fast, retro-styled logo in minutes

Normally, this bundle would sell for $85, which is already not a bad deal, but if you buy this week you get everything for 80% off at an amazing $17!

> Check out the deal here! 

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User Submitted Post

2 August 2020 - 2:00pm

A client reached out to me to make her a website. Her budget was extremely limited and well below my normal rates, but I helped her to pick out a template she could afford and offered to take care of uploading it and all her initial content for a low price. 

Client: Great, please send your invoice. 

I sent the invoice and the client paid in full right away. How nice.

Me: Your site is ready to be uploaded! Please look at the link I sent you for the staging site and let me know if I can go ahead. 

Client: Oh no, this will absolutely not do! My website looks exactly like a template. It has none of my brand personality. 

Bear in mind her only “branding” was a logo with a generic and very overused medical symbol that did not fit her business at all. Even worse, it used Papyrus.

Yep, you read that right folks… it’s 2020 and we still haven’t escaped good old Papyrus. I even offered to redesign her logo for free. She refused.

Me: Well yes, you paid for a template. Did I not use the correct one?

Client: It’s just I thought if I pay for the template you would redesign it to look like something completely unique.

Me: I’m sorry but that was not the agreement. Plus you were clear that you could not afford my rates for custom development, which is why I offered you an alternative at a VERY reduced rate. 

Client: Just make it look like my business card with a huge logo on the front page and my contact details. 

Me: OK, I must advise though, that is not considered a very good design. It won’t help your brand.

Client: Do it.

Luckily, doing this only took about five minutes – which is why I agreed in the first place.

Client: Was that so hard? Jeez, I don’t see why I should pay you anything since I told you everything that needed to be done. I basically designed it myself!

Me: No problem, you paid me in advance though so we’re good. In fact, if you want to take credit for this one, be my guest. I don’t need my name on it. 


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User Submitted Post

1 August 2020 - 3:00pm

I’m a web designer. I met a new client in a meeting for a completely different business and ended up chatting about his web development needs. Long story short he asked for a quote on an e-commerce store that I sent right away.  The client took a week or so to consider then signs the agreement and paid a 70% deposit per my terms.

However, he refused to give me ANY details on how to access his Cpanel or anything to do with his site – probably because he didn’t know how. Frustrated, I tried sidestepping him to get the job done. 

Me: I have spoken to your host and they agreed to install WordPress on your domain and provide me with the login details, but they need you to phone and authorize this. I see no other way to help you without access to your Cpanel. Please note this means you are NOT hosting with me and will not have to pay my hosting and maintenance fees, however, this also means you will NOT qualify for the perks listed in my contracts under my hosting. No hard feelings, just making sure you are clear on this point.

Client: This is ridiculous, why do I have to make a call this is part of what YOU are supposed to be doing!

Me: Picture this, if you ask your mechanic to fix your car and you agree on a price but you refuse to allow him to access your vehicle, do you still expect him to magically be able to fix it for you? 


Client: Ok fine I’ll call them. 


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I Need to Know Your Personal Habits

1 August 2020 - 2:00pm

I had a meeting with a prospective Client who was looking for a contract Account Executive. He e-mailed me some details about his business that I thought were odd. It seemed like a high-pressure business with some shady aspects to it. I thought I would give the Client the benefit of the doubt, though.

During the meeting, he came across as boastful, condescending toward his current employees, and somewhat angry.

Client: I’m looking to replace one of my current employees. She’s just not up there in the IQ department, you know?

Me: …I see.

Awkward… We continued to talk. Toward the end of the conversation, I received this question:

Client: Listen, you sound like you could be a good fit for this role. However, I do need to ask: you’re not a gambler or addicted to drugs or alcohol, are you? We tend to have a lot of those types of people who come through our doors.

Me: Uh – no. Not at all. I am very conscientious about how I live.

Client: Good! Let’s move on. 

Wow, that was an inappropriate question.

I looked into the company afterward, and there were numerous negative reviews from former employees specifically citing this walking red flag. 

I passed. 

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User Submitted Post

31 July 2020 - 3:00pm

Second day at a new design job, two hours by train from home, in the middle of a cold wave. Salary of a waiter, workload of 3 designers.

Client: Well, I’m leaving for lunch, start packing your stuff. Today I want you here for the afternoon for three more hours, so I need you to stay.

Me: Okay! Even tho I didn’t bring lunch because usually I work only 4 hours during the morning, can I stay working here meanwhile?

Client: NO! I don’t want you in the office while I’m not there. You could steal clients.

Wow. Weirdly specific paranoia.

Me: Well, okay, then when you will be back? I didn’t bring lunch and it’s December, so it’s pretty cold outside. Thirty minutes? An hour?

Client: I’ll be back in 3 hours.

Me: …but it’s freezing outside.

Client: Not my problem.

Me: and I can’t go back home, is 2 hours away!

Client: Not my problem.

Me:  also, you’re telling me my working day won’t end until 7pm and won’t be home until 9pm? That’s too much without even a day of notice.

Client: I said it’s not my problem! I want you here at 4pm. Don’t be late.

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