“I can’t afford to pay you, but I can sign you up to my email list if you like.”
I had made a packing design that was approved but not yet fully paid for.
Client: We are really in a hurry, so please send fonts and colors you’ve used ASAP. And what software do you use to design things? This is urgent!
Me: What do you mean? Do you need print files? Sure, but I need to be paid before I send you the finished files.
Client: Why do we have to pay you? This was our idea of design! I even sent you mock-up in Photoshop!
A potential client contacted my web design company, needing a custom site for his product catalogue. He didn’t have many products, only about twenty, but he needed to be able to update the descriptions and photos himself as the products had extensive data and would change over time. We spent some time in talks with the client, showing, how our products catalogue would work, and how easy it would be for him to use it. Then we provided an estimate, which was relatively small compared to market price for a completely custom-made website.
Client: Thanks, but I’ve actually been in touch with another designer who underbid you so I’ll be going with them.
This other company hadn’t done any of the work to educate the client about the website they would be creating, how to update the catalogue or any of that – the client just saw that and figured “savings!” Pit for us, but we wished him luck.
After a month or so we received an email:
Client: Hey, can you guys help me? I had this website made, but I don’t know how the product catalogue works. Could you figure out how I’m supposed to use it?
Me: Can you show us your CMS?
When we logged in to CMS we saw that the “products catalogue” was a single page of textual elements with the title “Product Catalogue” made in a simple WYSIWYG editor.
Me: Well, it says “Product Catalogue” but this is more of a text page. Anything you need to change will need to be written by hand yourself – there’s no way to change one item for every product. And yeah,I some cases you’ll need some programming knowledge to make it look right.
Client: But it says “Product Catalogue!” Why won’t it work like a catalogue?
Me: Well, I could name it “Eshop” but that doesn’t mean it will have eCommerce functions.
Anyway, the client had to order “extra services” from that other company and wound up paying 1.5x what we quoted them.
I work as a freelance video editor. My former principal contacted me and asked me to edit a video for her daughter’s wedding out of old pictures and videos.
Client: Here are the pictures I want you to use. Now about the videos, where can I plug in the VHS-Recorder?
Me: This is not possible. To record your VHS-tapes, I need extra hardware, which would be about 30€ extra.
Client: But my friend told me this works.
She ends up recording the tapes with her iPhone from the TV-screen – from standing up, so the videos are heavy-angled. I figure there is a way to zoom in and make it look like the original recording was awful too.
Me: So how do you exactly want the video to be? Any pictures I need to include? Any special wishes?
Client: No, I believe in you, be creative.
I create a heartwarming video of the bride that follows her birth through adolescence to meeting her fiancé. After some time, I deliver a low-res version of the video and ask for possible changes.
Client: It looks so good, I just need a few minor changes. I will email them to you.
That email… wasn’t so positive.
Client: Delete everything. Start with a zoom-in on the hospital where she was born. Then make text appear that says “at the same time…” and show pictures of her brother but keep the video at the beginning.
Note: I don’t know their family, so I didn’t know who her brother was in any of the photos.
Client: Then show all of the pictures of her as a baby with no one else on the picture. Then show the scan of the newspaper, the picture in the upper left but focus on the picture in the middle.
This mail continues with about 3000 words of how she wants the video done.
Me: What you sent me are not changes, it is a complete treatment. Also, I don’t know anybody you’re saying, so you need to tell me the filenames you want me to use. Also as I have to start all over again you need to pay about double the price we settled on in the first meeting.
Client: Why should I pay more if I tell you what to do?
Me: Here are the changes you asked for. Anything else?
Client: Looks great! I’ll pass it on and get back to you.
I wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. I pop off a few emails gently nudging them.
Tired of waiting, I submit my bill.
And I wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. And pop off a few emails gently nudging them.
Me: Is there a hold up on paying me?
Client: Well, we’re not going to pay you because we really don’t think what you did contributed much to the project.
Me: But… I did what you asked me to do, and you’re using my work. It’s in the current build.
Client: Yeah, but we don’t think what you did contributes much to the success of the app.
Me: The message that your marketing team came up with and that you asked me to use?
Client: I made a graphic using Wordle and I saved it as a jpg and now Its really bad quality. Can you make it better quality with photoshop?
Me: Uh… no. You can downsample images but not upsample and make them better quality. Does the program have export settings so that you can change the quality in options?
Client: Yeah it does but you have to pay for it so I didn’t want to.
I work freelance videography and met a potential client at a tradeshow. After many emails, lots of time in discovery phase, and writing up a proposal for the client outlining the advantages, logistics, promotional distribution ideas and a rough script, we were set to shoot a promo video.
Client: Thank you for all the work and research you put in, but I am going to take the proposal you made and look for someone cheaper to shoot it. Sorry, but that’s just business.
If that’s not bad enough, I got this email a few months later:
Client: I ended up hiring my niece to do this video and I really want to pay her. Can you please send me a quote on how much you would have charged me so I will know how much of money I should give her?
I am a freelance music videographer. I was negotiating a shoot for a few months with a client who kept going back and forth, back and forth. Eventually, all the details were hammered out. We agreed on a massively reduced budget for a one day shoot.
The client cancelled the shoot three days before the event… after I’d turned down other offers for bigger contracts on that date.
Three weeks later:
Client: Can you link me to a free internet resource that will tell me how to fix bad video? Rather than pay you as we agreed I went ahead and hired someone cheaper to film our show and I gave them your confidential quote and proposal to use as a guide. Well, they messed up the shoot and my footage is unusable. Do you have some time next week to teach me how to fix this? We can’t afford to pay you because we spent the budget and bought a new mixer for the band.
In other words, “I’d like you to work for free to help me overcome the consequences of screwing you.”
I don’t like non-profits. I used to work for them. I worked for a couple churches then I worked for a local United Way (and if you think churches are bad, you should get me started about United Way). But this last non-profit client was the last straw.
I was doing a bunch of t-shirt designs for a fairly big non-profit. They would tell me the lettering or imagery they wanted and I would make it happen. For a while, this worked great; they wouldn’t question much and they’d pay their bills.
However, one day they shorted me on an invoice I’d sent.
Me: Hey, you didn’t pay the full amount I invoiced you. What’s up?
Client: Oh, we decided not to print one of the shirts you designed.
Me: But… you asked me to do the designs and I did them.
Client: Well, which design was it?
They didn’t even remember which designs they’d asked me for. So I found myself out of the money they invoiced me for.
Of course, I’d already completed three new designs that I needed to invoice them for, and now they’re just not talking to me. I’ve emailed, I’ve called, nothing. I even copied the president of the company in an email about the invoices and got zero response. I’m as nice as I can be with communication and pricing. I wish they’d do the same.
Thanks for giving me a space to vent a little.
Client: Hello, I need about twenty gaming videos to post for the month I’ll be absent. They need to be about 10 minutes each.
Me: That’s doable, I charge $5-$10 per video based on what’s going on, including editing.
Client: Sorry, that’s too high. My budget is only $2 per video.
Me: There’s no way I’m going to record, edit and render a video for $2. That itself is a 1-hour job right there. $10 is a bargain.
Client: You stupid liberal hipsters and your $25 jobs. Good riddance, jackass.
Good luck getting a quality 60FPS, 1080p video running 10 minutes for $2.