Client: How long will this take?
Me: About 20 hours.
Client: So tomorrow?
I had a scheduled meeting with a potential client. I logged in to Zoom, and waited... and waited.
I emailed her to ask how much longer she needs or if she'd like to reschedule. Bear in mind that this call was scheduled about a week ago.
Client: I already found a designer to work on this project.
Me: And you didn't think to update me?
Client: It's been a week. I forgot.
A client wanted signage designed for her new store. I sent my quote which included the clause about a non-refundable deposit up-front. Followed this up with a call explaining I would begin as soon as the deposit was paid. Didn't hear anything for about two weeks, then I get a frantic phone call:
Client: Where's the artwork? The printers are ready to go, and the shop is opening in a few days.
Me: You haven't paid the deposit, so I haven't started.
Silence, followed by:
Client: Can you do something quickly? it should only take ten minutes. I mean, how many fonts can there be?
She made a card payment while I was on the phone with her.
It didn't take ten minutes.
This wasn't the worst client relationship, but was a moment I think about a lot. I'd been working for a client for a long time, and we wound up talking about the summer and our plans for it. I told him that I was taking a week off in a month (after our project ended) to go visit my family. He said something that I think is probably true of a lot of clients:
Client: Wow, of course! To be honest, I think of you just kind of as a wind-up work robot. You're so good, I just associate you only with the job.
He knew how ridiculous that was, but I feel like a lot of clients don't.
Me: Consider sending fewer emails. You often change your mind, and it’s time-consuming to go through ten emails when the last one has the actual choice. Here’s a budget spreadsheet.
Me: Please write down all your ideas and send one email every couple of days instead of every time you have a thought about the project. And don’t follow up the next day, because to save you money I answer them all at once, every couple of days. Here’s a budget spreadsheet.
Me: The cover designer needs more guidance. You keep saying “do something that’s never been done before” but you don’t like any of the concepts and won’t tell us what you do like. Here’s a budget spreadsheet. Note that we’re already well over hours - we’ll need to quadruple your budget for my time.
Me: Because you didn’t use Track Changes (again) like I requested (again) and sent a tutorial on (again), your manuscript will need to be proofread... again. Are you sure this, the sixth version after the "final proofread," is done? Here’s a budget spreadsheet.
Me: No, we still can’t make a screenshot of a snapshot into a high-quality cover pic. Thanks for approving this hideous concept I mocked up in PowerPoint to get you to approve something, anything, without incurring another round of cover design charges. Here’s a budget spreadsheet.
Client: WHY ARE WE SO OVER BUDGET AND WILL IT COST MONEY FOR YOU TO ANSWER THIS EMAIL?!?!??
Subject: Need this started ASAP!
Message: I had to take an emergency trip to the Bahamas for a yoga meditation retreat. Can you get started right now, so I can have it by Monday?
A "my time is valuable, yours is not" moment from the Clients From Hell archives.
I had to take a sick day recently due to a flu that knocked me out - I wrote my clients to let them know, made arrangements with more pressing deadlines, and drifted in and out of consciousness.
Most of my clients respected that I needed to get better, with messages like "hope you feel better soon! Get well!" One client sent me a number of messages throughout the day with questions. When I caught up the next day:
Me: I'm sorry for not responding, but to be frank I couldn't stay awake long enough to respond yesterday.
Client: Even if you're sick, it's your responsibility to keep up with communications. That's just being a professional.