Clients from Hell

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Horror stories from freelancers
Updated: 33 min 5 sec ago

the unrender

24 April 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Hang on we have some changes. Can you un-render that?

Me: I’m sorry, but time is an arrow

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23 April 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Can you make the background image something more “Southern”?

Me: What did you have in mind exactly? Southern is a very broad description.

Client: You know, something “Southerny.”

After this helpful direction I sent another proof. The client is in Arizona, so I guessed and went with cacti, desert, etc.

Client: No. That’s southwest. I meant like mossy oaks, Georgia, New Orleans, mansions.

So NOW you can give me the direction I asked for in the first exchange?

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<p>My first client as a freelance

23 April 2020 - 2:00pm

My first client as a freelance designer was the owner of a fitness/massage place. She wanted me to redesign a leaflet for her business. She sent me her draft but wanted me to touch it up. Every change I made was suggested by her and looked great, but she hated each one. After sending it back and forth for about the 8th/10th time I receive an email from her:

Client: I don’t believe how long it has taken you redesign the leaflet. I will pay you but I will be using someone else in future. I just wanted something that looked like the original design but refined slightly.

I look at all the redesigns and see that they’re all refined versions of her leaflet.

Me: I’m sorry for the delay. Enclosed is my latest version – hopefully you like this one..

I just attached her original draft.

Client: This is perfect, thank you.

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Why Couldn’t You Read My Mind?

22 April 2020 - 3:00pm

A Client who was a “Marketing Director” (I use that term loosely in her case) asked me to design an e-mail campaign for her.

Client: I  want something more simple and modern looking than my old template. 

I had a couple of in-depth conversations with her, but she seemed to just want me to “go with it.”

I created a few clean-looking designs for her review that were based on her brand colors and the overall business creative aesthetics.

She sent me 6 paragraphs of “critique” about ways I could improve the design – all of which were adding new features that made them cluttered and non-modern. 

What. The. Hell.


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First Impressions in High-End Sales

22 April 2020 - 2:02pm

Me: Since you’re selling to a professional market, it might make sense to buy some branded clothes for your sales team so everyone looks sharp. 

Client: Great idea! 

Hey bought everyone cheap hooded sweatshirts in an unattractive color with a logo that barely showed up. The logo hadn’t been updated in 30 years or longer.

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A Logo or a Photo?

21 April 2020 - 3:00pm

Client: Here’s our logo that a designer made for us from a local small agency.

The client provided me with a photo, with some slight Photoshop enhancements to brighten the colors and distort the border.

It did NOT look like an illustration or a design. It looked like a photo. Like a photo you would find in a photo album from the 90’s, or when someone plays around with Photoshop to create some “cool” effects when they are in an intro Photoshop class.

This caused issues with website design, print design assets, product tags, and more – since a photo is usually hard to make look like a logo on different types of media.

Last time I checked, a photo is a photo – not a logo.

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User Submitted Post

21 April 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We spent a lot of money on our web project and it failed completely. Can You please fix it?

Me: Yes, we can. The budget is around 2500€

Client: No no, you don’t understand!  We have spent really big money for this and it is emotionally hard to spent more thousands. Can You do it for the lowest possible fee, lets say 300€?

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I’m a designer, not a time traveler

20 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I’ve been a designer for 20 years, and it takes a lot to surprise me.

Last week, a client asked me to work on project elements in one order but to email them to her, as I worked on them, in a different order. 

I’m a designer, not a time traveler

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Climbing the Career Ladder

20 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I was hired as a temp-to-hire Admin Assistant. I drove an hour to the low paying job. I have a college degree, and the role was painfully dull with ridiculous office politics. 

These people are so off-putting I don’t know where to begin.

I worked directly with the office manager, who showed me various processes that didn’t make much sense. The whole time she was “showing me around” she worked on her own projects and complained about how stressful her life was. 

Client: Did you drive? 

Me: Yes.

Client: Oh, can you show me your car?


Client: (standing at the door) Where’s your car? I didn’t see it in the parking lot.

Me: It’s over there, at the end. .

Client: Oh OK, that’s the kind of car you have.


The owner of the Business came over to the front desk and asked me to scan piles of vintage golf photos for his private memorabilia collection. 

As I did that with a smile on my face but a scowl in my heart, I also answered some phone calls and asked the Office Manager some questions about my role. 

A second manager came over to talk to the office manager to check in on my progress.

Manager: So, is she getting her new role? I mean, does she understand this? She seems kind of confused. Is she a good fit for this?

They were steps away. I heard every word. They kept looking at me while I scanned vintage golf photos. 

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Turn any poor-quality image into a fully scalable vector for just $9!

19 April 2020 - 2:00pm
Turn any poor-quality image into a fully scalable vector for just $9!

This week’s deal is on a service that will turn any busted image into a ready-to-print vector file.

And, at only $9, it’s a steal. 


You know the story. You ask a client for high-res version of their logo and they give you a photo of their business card, or a grainy JPG embedded in a Word document. You push them for a high-quality version and they have no idea what you’re talking about. Well, there’s no need to pull your hair out; Sticker Mule will redraw that lousy image into a vector for only $9

This service is normally $29 (and frankly well worth not having to track down  your client’s previous designer) but this week only you can pay $9 and have a client-satisfaction SUPERPOWER in your back pocket. Save yourself time and effort and pay the experts at Sticker Mule to redo the logo! 

Check out the deal here. 


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Bait & Switch Hiring Practices

19 April 2020 - 1:00pm

One of the biggest problems when working for a new job is that THEY don’t know what you need to do. 

Client: We’re so happy that you’re joining our team! Why don’t you start training and discussing with others what you’ll be doing with us.

They spend a lot of time explaining or figuring out the role they hired me for, with confusing contradictions and tons of illogical processes. Many people may not have ever been properly trained for their roles around me.

I then ask some questions for clarification.

Client: Hm, I haven’t heard that question before. I’m not sure. Why don’t you ask_____

At which point they offload the question to someone else, who may not know the answer.

I tend to find out that the job is wayy more work than a one-person role for a modest hourly rate.

The scope of the job would typically require double the department staff, better planning, and double the hours / pay offered to maintain sanity.

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That’s the Spirit

18 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I was showing a prospective client my work.

Client: But you were a part of a team for those projects. 

Me: Yes?

Client: How do I know you contributed to them and didn’t leave it to other people?

Me: Well, I did.

Client: But it looks like you haven’t accomplished anything.

Me: I’ve worked with some really cool digital media teams and helped develop some great projects.

Client:  Well, I wouldn’t hire you!

Twist: the client is my dad.

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User Submitted Post

18 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I work as a freelancer illustrator for video games, but I also sell merchandise I design at events.

Me: Just to remind you, you may not want set deadline during this upcoming period because I’m going to be quite busy selling merch at cons. 

Client: Okay, but could you prioritize us? We’re not barring you from taking other commissions. We just want our project to come first. 

Me: I warned you when we started working together that I wouldn’t be able to focus on your project during this period. 

Client: Yeah, but we were hoping you would make us the priority now that you’re actually working with us. 

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is complicated

17 April 2020 - 3:00pm

Found this ad on a freelance job website:

Client: I am looking for the best freelancer that promises me to fulfill every detail of the design without so many complaints of a “is complicated” or “not possible” and gives me satisfactory results every week.

Budget: $50 – $80

Timeframe: 4 months



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Just do it in VistaPrint

17 April 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: We need 500 gift cards. Design them and get them through Vistaprint.

Me: Okay.

Client: They’ll need individual barcodes though, so make sure you include those. 


Me: …Let me confirm.  You want me – myself, a single individual –  to generate 500 SEPARATE barcodes to coincide with the specific 500 numbers we need for our POS system and use those to create 500 SEPARATE single-plastic rounded corner business card documents in Vistaprint, taking meticulous care to make sure each and every barcode matches the number on the 500 cards?  Then you want to have Vistaprint make those and have them shipped here in a week and a half? As opposed to having the POS company who already has the numbers and barcodes generated with their specific existing software and team dedicated to this particular service?

Client: … Well when you put it that way. We will have the POS company do it.

Me: It’s a Christmas Miracle

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User Submitted Post

16 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I was a freelance web designer. I was asked to take over an ongoing website project, because the web agency my client had been using wouldn’t finish it. 

That should have been a red flag in retrospect. 

Me: I’ll need your registrar information in order to set your domain name to your new hosting service. Could you please forward me the mail they sent you so I can proceed?

Client: Sure! I’ll do that!

We ended the call and, 2 hours later, still no incoming email. I called back

Me: I did not receive your email yet. Did you send it already or do you need help recovering the info?

Client: No, no, it’s good, I finally figured out how to proceed. I’m sending it to you right now!

Me: Oh, great! Let me know if you need anything

Another 2 hours later, I finally got her email. It had a 80+ Mb. BMP image attached. It was indeed the registrar’s email, but she had printed and scanned it as an image to send it to me. 

Was the rest of working with this client just as bad? Remember: I WAS a freelance web designer.

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Don’t Poke the Bear

16 April 2020 - 2:00pm

I was tasked with updating a website for a business in town. I went through some painful discussions with the team about options for a site that was not well-made by the previous agency.

The team was sarcastic and rude about the whole process. I managed to update portions of the website, and sales went up significantly, but there was still room for improvement. 

I offered plenty of suggestions for long-term plans for the site but left soon after because the experience was so unpleasant.

Two years have passed, and the website hasn’t been updated in any significant ways since I left. The business sells products in a competitive industry, where online presence is crucial. 

I’ve heard they’ve tried to hire other developers, but had no success. I guess it’s that dysfunctional to work on the site for all involved.

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<p>I am an event photographer. A venue

15 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I am an event photographer. A venue contacted me about covering an upcoming show.

Client: We love your work, and would love you to take on this project.

Me: Awesome, here is my quote and a few additional options. Once I receive a deposit & signed contract, I will reserve the date.

Client: Wow, that is pretty expensive. We were thinking you could come cover the event in exchange for some drinks & exposure via our various social media sites. It would be well worth the investment of your time!

Cue Groans. 

Bear in mind, this venue charges $30-$40 at the door, plus $15-$20 per drink and $1800 for bottle service/table and it is packed to capacity of 800+ people almost every event. Their social media also proudly proclaims to “support artists.” 

Me: How about we just exchange services instead? I will invite all of my friends for a private event in your venue and everybody can drink for free all night. Think of all the exposure you will get from the various social media accounts!” 

Still haven’t heard back.

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caution tape

15 April 2020 - 2:00pm

Client: Can you develop some logo examples for me to present to a orthodontist for his clinic?

Me: Sure.

I then make four different logos in 5 different colors.

Client: Could you make that in black and yellow?

Me: I can do that, but colors send certain psychological signals to people. Black and yellow has come to stand for “caution” or “danger” – think of bees or warning signs. It might not be the best idea for a dentist to have a black and yellow logo that tells people “this is unsafe.”

Client: I know all that. Do it anyway.

Well if you KNOW it’s a bad idea, why are you insisting?

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The “Home Office” Set Up

14 April 2020 - 3:00pm

I was working on a website project for a Client (male) who wanted me to work at his home (I’m a woman).

Me: I was hoping I could work remotely since I live across the city. I’ve worked remotely successfully in the past. We could meet up weekly.

Client: Look, I want you to work here. I need to see what you’re working on. I don’t know anything about this website stuff.

It soon became clear that this was going to be really uncomfortable.

His suburban house had his clothing strewn about, and personal hygiene items and other personal items left everywhere. It did not feel like a professional environment.

I had to walk through his bedroom to get to a necessary area of the house.

There was no privacy as I was on his turf. He would get emotionally intense about various business plans and ideas, and talked about his personal life.

He complained about how his business strategies weren’t working out and how frustrated he was. His business plans were chaotic. The house had an open layout so he was “in my space” constantly.

I left that opportunity pretty quickly.


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