Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 20 min 17 sec ago

When My Work Became Her Work

10 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I am an experienced social media marketer, and I created a social media campaign for a financial client who needed help with communicating complex ideas in simple ways. I worked hard to make the posts as friendly, approachable, and easy to understand as possible. I wrote out my strategy and explained to them in detail my process.

My work had received compliments from the team, and I saw positive results online. They then told me that I had a new “contact” with the team. I noticed that she had never worked in social media marketing and was very new to the company. 

The new hire proceeded to re-write my posts that were scheduled for upcoming weeks and she criticized nearly every aspect of the posts in lengthy e-mails, from the imagery to the content. I even tried to explain to her why her edits didn’t make much sense.

By that point, she was creating the posts (imagery and content), which weren’t in line with the overall strategy I had created, and she was complaining to me about it.

I quit and the clients’ social media presence plummeted. 

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The Never Ending Story

10 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was working on a project for a client who told me he wanted to market his services on Instagram and with Google ads.

Me: I’m open to it, but in my experience, you need to do more than just post on Instagram and Google ads. You need to update the website, work on your SEO, up your online presence and more. 

Client: I just need these two things. 

For the next few weeks, the client made me present plans in painstaking detail. He knew very little about digital marketing and wanted me to explain every little decision. through many weeks of planning in painstaking detail (since the client knows very little about digital marketing).

I was a bit curious to see if Instagram and Google Ads would be all that he needed but also assumed it wouldn’t be, and that he’d see that eventually. 

During this time, the client left on two vacations while paying me a very low hourly rate. He was very busy with his work and hardly had time to respond to my e-mails. 

A month later, the Instagram marketing campaign wasn’t making much of an impact (as I had suspected). The very low budget for the paid online ads wasn’t making a difference, either. 

Me: This is all in line with what I said before. I think to see results, you need to raise the budget for Google ads, update your business listings and work on the SEO of your website. We should probably be trying other social media platforms as well. 

At this point, he became upset and started arguing with me.

At this point, I realized I had spent weeks trying to educate and plan with the client, and it would be more months of hand-holding which I just didn’t have the energy for anymore.

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Thanks Dad

9 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I’ve been editing small videos for personal use for me and my friends for a while. I’ve decided to start freelancing while still keeping a side job to make ends meet (for now). When I announced this to my parents, they said: 

Mom and Dad: Oh thank god, you’re keeping your job. You’ll have a real source of income and you won’t become a shut-in.

The post Thanks Dad appeared first on Clients From Hell.

User Submitted Post

9 August 2019 - 2:00pm

My client purchased a domain and asked that I set up emails for her and her staff. 

Client: You created the wrong email addresses.

Me: Oh? I am looking at the email you sent. I created the emails with the exact handles you requested.

Client: I need the emails to be [client]@[], not [client]@[]

Me: I’m sorry, but that’s not the domain that you purchased.

Client: This has nothing to do with my domain. My domain is correct. The emails are wrong. 

Me: You cannot make any email address you want. It doesn’t work like that. You need to own the domain you are using for the email addresses. 

Client: (now enraged) WHY WOULD YOU EVEN AGREE TO CREATE EMAILS WITH SUCH A LONG DOMAIN? This is unacceptable… 


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User Submitted Post

8 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I worked for free for months helping a non-profit.

Client: Can you take on this additional project?

Me: I could, but to do anything more I would need to be paid.

Not only did they say no, they told other non-profits in the area that I was “blackmailing” them. 

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Not Only Is Your Card Maxed Out, But Your Designer Too

8 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I was a novice freelancer when one of my friends referred a client to me. The commission was simple enough – just a logo and a brochure, so I decided to send the client a quote. This part goes well, until we begin to negotiate payment.

Client: Do I need to submit a deposit?

Me: Yes, I will require $X before beginning the project. I can accept either a check or a PayPal payment.

Client: PayPal won’t work for me. My credit card company won’t allow it. Can you use [sketchy company I have never heard of]?

Me: No, but I can use Intuit. Would that work for you?

Client: Yes. Please invoice me and process the charge.

I do as he requests, but his card is declined. I reach out to him accordingly. This is his response.

Client: I’m sorry but can you help me? I need to pay $3000 to my writing consultant but don’t have the money. Can I pay you the amount and your deposit through my credit card to forward to him?

And that is how I fired a client for the first time.

The post Not Only Is Your Card Maxed Out, But Your Designer Too appeared first on Clients From Hell.

Best kind of jobs?

7 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Not a clients from hell but quite the opposite.

I got hired by a European governmental agency to do graphics on a video for them, they insisted I invoiced them before the job even started, so I did, they paid in full in a matter of days.

And that’s the last I ever heard of them… I literally got paid to do nothing.

My guess is they had to spend money before the end of their budget year to justify their next year’s budget but whatever, I got paid!

The post Best kind of jobs? appeared first on Clients From Hell.

math is hard

7 August 2019 - 2:51pm

A friend of mine put me in touch with her relative for a logo for their new company. Since it was a friend referral, and I was excited about the project, I offered a discounted rate (almost 50%) from what I normally charge businesses.

Me: Great, so the logo should take around 3-4 hours at my rate of $XX.

Client: Okay, but I don’t want to pay more than that. 

Me: Sure, I’m confident I can create a logo in that time frame quoted.

Client: Wait, how many options will I get?

Me: The quote above is for one logo. It takes around 3-4 hours. If you want more, I can create options, but I’ll have to bill each at 3-4 hours for a total of $XXX.

Client: That is not a competitive market rate. Best of luck.

Now I’m wishing I could bill my full 100% rate for the time it took to negotiate and explain how math works.

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Pay it forward, give it back: Maddy Osman and altruism in freelancing

6 August 2019 - 8:00pm
Pay it forward, give it back: Maddy Osman and altruism in freelancing

It’s rough out there these days. Sometimes, you have to make your own good.

That’s what Maddy Osman was thinking when she created a scholarship for freelancers on her own dime. Not as a way to promote her business, not to train up someone she could work with or profit off of – just to help someone in the way she felt she’d been helped.

In this episode, Maddy and Kyle talk about what it means to give back to the freelance community, and what it means to be altruistic as part of your hustle. 

We’re sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

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User Submitted Post

6 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Me: This is just a mock-up so you can see the flow of the piece. Please imagine the stick figures as full human beings.

Them: I like it, as long as the art doesn’t look as crappy as that.

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User Submitted Post

6 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Grandfather: I’m going to send you my journal. I’m hoping to turn it into a book.

Me: Um…

Grandfather: Don’t change the wording at all! Just add commas or check the spelling.

Me: Um…

Grandfather: Actually, I already sent it. It should arrive by Tuesday.

It arrived, and I did my best because he’d make a big fuss if I refused – but it was 70+ pages of advice, random thoughts, his life story, and his opinions of everyone around him. Including when he made my grandmother cry, how he felt about me leaving home, and a very nasty rant about both my partner and my in-laws.

I decided the best revenge was to silently hand back the edited document and wait until he found my written response to those rants. He hasn’t tried to push a book project on me since.

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User Submitted Post

5 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Client:  So you’re a “concept artist.” What is that exactly?  

Me: I do stuff like character designs. 

Client: What does that mean? 

Me: I design characters and environments. Like backgrounds and characters you see in animations? I design those. 

Client: So like what [friend] does? 

Me: No, he’s a graphics designer, he does logos and websites and branding. I don’t do that. If you want a logo, go to [friend]. 

Client: So what do you do then. 

Me: I’m a concept artist, I design characters and environments. Basically, if you are working on an animation or video game, I can help you. 

There’s a moment of silence.

Client: So explain to me what you do again? 

At this point, I’m pretty sure he’s waiting for me to say that I do logo design so he can hire me to do work for him and his dad’s business. 

Me: If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say character design, then you’re not the kind of client I’m looking for. 

Client: See, people like you are the reason why your industry is small. 

He’s a radiologist and had no business knowing anything about the animation industry that I work in. 

Client: You just lost yourself a good client. 

Me: Well, you were never my client to begin with. 

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


5 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Had a client insist that I use their file naming system: instead of using v1, v2, etc. at the end of the file name, they use an “a” at the front of the file name for each revision. So a file on version 15, for example, would be named aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa_filename.

Client: This makes sense because the newest version is listed first. They explained that this method made more sense because the newest version would be listed first.

To me, it just seemed like their files were screaming. 


2,350+ Pro graphic elements for just $19!

4 August 2019 - 3:00pm
2,350+ Pro graphic elements for just $19!

This week’s deal is on 2,350+ graphic elements that are as useful as they are beautiful. 

> Take a look. The watercolor elements alone are worth the asking price. 

There are literally thousands of intricate, well-designed elements in this bundle and they’re all going for only $19. Doing a poster for a spring event? Some watercolor flowers will fit the bill. Wedding invitation? How about a pastel-painted wood background? Portlandia made “put a bird on it” a joke, but seriously – have you considered putting a bird on it? There’s a lot here, and it’s great.

To be honest, a lot of the deals we feature here have inflated original prices so the sale price can seem even more insane. That’s not up to us, and they’re still great deals. This bundle’s normal price is the extremely reasonable $89, but you can get it for $19 which is great. Buy it for that.

> Check out the deal here. 


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A Bully Customer

4 August 2019 - 2:00pm

I work for a local print shop as a graphic designer. There’s a customer that has been coming here off and on for several years, long before I started working here. He’s notorious for being very difficult, rude, and disorganized with his projects. 

He had some mailing he needed to be done and he was in way too big of a hurry and was constantly calling in to micro-manage how things were being set up and when the items would be ready for him to pick up so he could get it in the mail. This resulted in some mistakes on my end due to all the interruptions. However, he did proof these items and missed the mistakes as well and approved everything to print. 

When he brought these mistakes to my attention, I told him I would take care of it and we’d reprint the messed up letters and envelopes at no cost to him. This reassurance was lost on his ears and he still proceeded to belittle me and basically call me an idiot. This was a phone call at the end of the workday.

Client: I’m writing with regards to your so-called “designer” who “helped” me the other day who clearly has inadequate experience to do the job. They should be fired.

The email continued on this note for several paragraphs. I’ve been doing this job successfully for years now. 

Happy ending: my boss emailed a long message back that listed the years of grievances the client has caused us, including being rude to other customers by acting as if our whole staff are his personal employees to help him all at the same time while others are waiting to be served. The boss told him to not return for doing business with us unless he can treat us employees and other customers with the respect we deserve.


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“Please check before you use the information we send you in case it’s wrong.”

3 August 2019 - 3:00pm

I was writing a report for a consultancy firm based on materials they gave me. 

Client: The case study section needs more detail.

At this point, they send a more detailed case study that I DIDN’T KNOW EXISTED. I add the details.

Client: You used info from the report that’s incorrect. You have our number, why didn’t you check first? 

Because 1) you asked for more detail 2) it’s in the document you sent me, and 3) you didn’t say “Some of this might be unusable, please check first.” I also have the numbers of Dial-a-Pizza, Salon Fourteen and Tiger Taxis but I only phone them when I need to…

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User Submitted Post

3 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: I hate gray. This gray is out of the question. 

Me: (thinking on my feet) …Okay. How about this “pale black”?

Client: Perfect.

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User Submitted Post

2 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: I’m sorry if my instructions are a little convoluted. I’m gluten-free, you know.

How a client ended an email about their preferred colors.

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completely missed the point

2 August 2019 - 2:00pm

Client: We want a patriotic image. Find stock images of US Navy crewmen in their white uniforms. 

We looked everywhere to find a stock image that satisfied the copyright criteria and were unable to find anything. After four rounds of revisions we said so:

Me: We can’t find the very specific image you’re looking for. Frankly, we can’t find any stock images of US Navy crewmen in any uniform, much less the white ones. Maybe you can go with a set of creative that signals a more generalized patriotism, or maybe a different branch of the military?

Client: Oh that’s fine, you can use their blue uniform.

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“Won’t ‘aggle?”

1 August 2019 - 3:00pm

Client: How much do you charge to photograph my apartment for Airbnb?

Me: £150.

Client: Would you do it for £120?

Me: Are we haggling?

Client: Um, yeah… I guess so.

Me: Okay, let’s start again.

Client: Pardon?

Me: Ask me again. I didn’t realize we were haggling.

Client: Okay… Um… how much do you charge to photograph my apartment for Airbnb?

Me: £300.

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