Client: Can you make it look more Ugandan?
For a flyer for a concert happening in Denver, Colorado.
Years ago after my husband started publishing books. He worked with local authors and directed some of them to me for website design. Most of them were incredibly easy to deal with. They paid on time and there were no issues. However, one of them gave my name to one of their "friends" who had self-published children's books.
First, she was fifteen minutes late for our meeting and then brought a "friend" who was a college student who was renting out one of her spare rooms.
Client: I'm really excited about this new book. It's amazing. Also, I'm an artist and I did all illustrations myself.
She told me what she wanted the site to look like as I made notes and gave her a quote which she could work with.
Me: Can I see any of your books for reference?
Client: I don't have any with me, but I'll send you some images for the site.
Following that meeting, I created what was, in my opinion, a great site with a nice light appeal. She gave me a bunch of reviews from her friends, I put them up, she paid me and everyone was happy.
Client: The book is set to release from the self-publishing company in 24 hours. I'll send you the link to put on the site then. Also, I'll send you some of the illustrations to put up.
The next day I got the link and the illustrations, and my heart sank. The "beautiful" illustrations were literally the exact same image copy-pasted image on every page. She'd colored them, badly, with crayon.
The book, it turned out, was only $12 pages and sold for $30 as a softcover. I was horrified to be helping such a project, but thought "it's okay, I'm just the site designer." I put up the links and did everything she asked. I thought we were done.
Two weeks later at damn near midnight I get a phone call from her. She was in a fit of rage and sobbing so uncontrollably that for the first five minutes I can't even understand her.
Client: (sobbing) I... got... a one star-review on A-a-a-a-ma-zon. You h-h-h-ave to take it down! You have to!
Me: I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do to remove that review.
Client: Why not? Why won't you help? I can't believe someone would do this, I'm going to hire some lawyers and hunt down the person who's slandered my book.
Me: (starting to be annoyed) I'm sorry, I know this is tough, but my time isn't free. If you want to keep talking I'll need to make this a paid consultation.
She kept talking.
Client: I'm just so disappointed!
I sent her an invoice for the time of the call. She didn't pay me but instead sent me a "free" copy of her "book."
Last I heard, she stopped publishing books and found another passion in hairdressing.
I was asked by a hippie girl I knew to draw up a logo and Facebook cover photo for her "Wellness" side-hustle. She was tossing elements out to me that she thought would be cool to incorporate. Old maps, trees, landscapes, etc., which lead to this exchange:
Client: Okay... screw the header image of a landscape. I'll cross that road if I need it later, but let's focus on the logo. Everything is less-is-more these days, but that's so old now I'm not biting into it entirely for my future. Art tastes changes. I think baroque muchness is better :)
Client: You're super good at texture, so let's start there. Any chance you could make the tree, with a compass key behind work? And surrounded by something symbolic of sun/moon as a round border?
Me: What's a compass key?
Client: I'm using made-up language.
After a few more conversations like this, I noped out hard.
A client of mine runs a small business and I help with their marketing, etc. They had me design a t-shirt for them a few months ago, and I made a high-res png of the front design, back design, and a photo of the designs on the t-shirt, using the t-shirt manufacturer's product photo. Now the client wants another (different) t-shirt.
Me: Alright, design is finished. I put the files in a Google Drive folder for the printer. Please send the link to her with your order.
Client: I changed my mind about the t-shirt color. The printer offers a navy blue option, so could you switch up the graphic you made to match?
Me: Alright, no problem. *change graphics*
Client: Your new graphic has a model wearing the t-shirt. There was no model last time. I don't like you changing things up like this.
Me: I got both of those photos from the t-shirt manufacturer's site. One of the colors didn't have a model wearing it, one did. The printer should understand.
Client: I don't understand why you can't do it like you did last time. Maybe we can do the t-shirt another time.
I haven't heard from them since.
I'm a designer, and I did a wedding invitation design for free for a family member. I was even going to pay for the printing as a gift. It was beautiful, hand-lettered, custom art inspired by their wedding flowers and colors...and then after not hearing from them for a few days after submitting the draft I get this:
Client: It's really pretty, but it's missing the character that this one has!
They sent me a picture of an invite clearly made from some online generator by two people who have no idea how to design invitations, in dimensions my printer can't readily print.
Client: I guess the fonts are just really hard to do...
The font they loved so much from the generator was a Google font.
Don't work for family.
For years, I did freelance copywriting for a small-town advertising agency. It was run by awesome people who had tons of experience and understood the business. They knew how to treat freelancers. A great client.
Then they decided to sell the agency.
I can’t say for sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say the new managing partners had previously worked in septic pumping, pet grooming, meat processing or some similar field that would naturally lead a person to conclude that creative services/advertising was a logical next step.
Along with the client base, the new partners inherited many of the agency’s supplier relationships. Before long, I get the call to work on a lengthy brochure for one of the agency’s government clients. I’m relieved that a consistent long-term source of work and income isn’t about to disappear with the change in ownership.
At first, everything goes well. I attend a meeting with one of the new managing partners, a very talented in-house graphic designer, and client representatives to review the brief. No problems here, though I do get the creeping sense that the managing partner isn’t playing with a full deck. I have my marching orders. I do my research, complete my first draft of the copy, and send it to my client—the agency—for review and discussion.
Eventually, I get an email from the managing partner to invite me to another meeting with the agency’s client. Still not a word of feedback about the copy. I’m assuming everything’s A-OK.
When I show up at the meeting, right off the bat, the agency’s client makes it pretty clear that they’re happy with the copy. Love it. From what I’m hearing, it sounds like my work is done.
Boss: That’s great but I think the copy is going to need a fair amount of revision...
To the client who'd just expressed satisfaction. After not saying anything to me in advance.
Yes, that's the sound of my jaw hitting the table.
Finished that assignment, swore “never again.”
I think she’s back to pumping septic now.
Client: Hi. Do you do Photoshop?
Me: Yes, I'm proficient with Photoshop. How can I help you?
Client: I wanted to know if you do logo editing?
Me: Logo editing?
Client: Yes. I have a professionally-made logo, and I need it edited.
Me: I see... Well, what changes are you looking for?
He sent me a low-res logo with a watermark.
Client: I need the semi-transparent thing over the main picture removed and the blurry edges made better.
Turns out, this client from hell had contracted a fellow artist - who is a friend of mine - to design a logo. The client bargained his way into paying 10% upfront instead of 50% like my friend usually charges, then after he was satisfied with the logo (which still had the watermark), he thought he'd be clever and tell my friend his work was inadequate and wouldn't pay the remainder.
Unfortunately for him, the first person he tried was me. I immediately informed my friend, who warned the client from hell not to try using his work without paying.
Client from hell ignored the warning, presumably found some other guy who was willing to turn a blind eye and help him (badly) remove the watermark, then used the blurry low-res image anyway. My friend tried lawyering up, but apparently, it wasn't worth it. Now he refuses to waver from his 50% upfront policy.
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I have a client who in the past paid his invoice either on the due date or a few days late. They have also told me they have cashflow problems (big red flag right there).
Client: For the next project, we would like to have longer payment terms. We don't understand the problem. We have clients of our own that pay only after 3 months.
Me: My company is just me and I need to be able to pay my bills, too. I expect clients to pay their invoices on time.
Client: If I knew you were living on bread and water, I would consider paying you earlier.
Wow, that went non-professional real fast! "Why should I pay you if you aren't starving?"