If it’s true that opportunity makes a man a thief, then even more so, experience makes him clever. And strongly intuitive. And therefore, project after project, it gets easier to recognize at first glance – or first listen, maybe – those notorious clients. In other words, there are certain statements that can help us to easily and definitively recognize those clients.
They’re the most shrewd, sometimes a bit stingy, maybe just disorganized or confused. Or maybe they’re just a little arrogant and intentionally ambiguous. In any case, if you can recognize them, you can handle them.
So, perk up your ears and get ready for the warning signs. If the client tells you…
1. “ I don’t know, I really have no idea, maybe just start with something and then show me.”
Or: working without guidelines, without the faintest idea of where to start and with the risk that you create something that doesn’t meet the expectations of the client, that, it goes without saying, will realize once it’s too late. And he’ll ask you to completely rework everything. Working by feel is always the wrong way, because if your client doesn’t know what he wants, you can’t play the part of the fortune-teller.
Suggestion: We amply discussed it in this article, which I suggest you read before starting to work on any project. The end purpose is to develop a brief that should contain all information necessary to carry out a successful project: aesthetic preferences, needs, goals, messages to be communicated. It can also be helpful to show the client some websites/logos/business cards of other companies in the same field to help him clarify his thoughts and see what he likes best.
The same argument is valid for statements like “I’ll leave it up to you, I trust you”: even though on the surface it may seem like a statement thrown in to bolster your ego, it is actually just another way to maintain distance from your work. In this manner, in addition to working blind, you’ll be considered the only one responsible for any eventual errors or omissions. Try to actively involve the client in every phase of the project, step by step, making him accept every detail: colors, graphics, content…this way he won’t be able to expect changes in the future or express dissatisfaction, seeing as he was present during all steps of project development.
2. “ In the footer write: “Website designed by NameofhisCompany.com ”
If you’re the last freelancer in a long list of subcontractors, I suggest you discuss credits prior to making an estimate and drafting a contract. There’s nothing more demotivating than having to work on – maybe even below cost – a project that, once completed, you won’t even get any credit for.
Renouncing ownership of your work has a price: clarify this upfront. Above all else, you won’t be able to display the finished project on your website and put it in your portfolio, essential showcases for any designer. Secondly, the possibility to acquire new clients, thanks to the work you’ve done, is taken away from you, since no one will be able to acknowledge your work. You lose in terms of visibility and potential for publicity, that’s for sure.
Suggestion: Include in the estimate two different amounts, according to whether you’ll be recognized as the project designer, or not. This way, even if your professional image gets a bit diminished, at least you’ll receive some compensation.
3. “We’re in a time crunch, in fifteen days we have to be live”
It’s obvious that doing quality work takes quality time. Inspiration, design, sense of aesthetic, content organization, concept, code writing, text…each project is comprised of countless phases that all require a certain amount of concentration and patience.
Be clear with the client: if you don’t think you can get things done in the expected amount of time, tell him immediately and explain your reasoning. Often, for the client, a limited time frame is synonymous with a reduced budget (“What? All this money for one week’s work?!”) and it can turn out to be a great excuse for expressing dissatisfaction with your work, maybe even for being just one day late. And there follows “I’m not paying”.
Suggestion: Aside from verbally clarifying the delivery deadline, specify in the contract the maximum amount of time in which the project will be completed. And underline the fact that you’re not responsible for any delays not determined by your work: it’s not your fault if you have to wait a week to receive materials to work on, or if the client takes days to authorize a draft.
4. “Give me a discount, I have two more jobs for you”
There’s only one way to answer: well then, it’ll be alright if I apply a discount to the next job you give me, right? A smart client deserves a smart answer, but don’t be offensive. You’ll always find those who, with a ploy, will try to get you to bargain. The improbable offer of other jobs is usually just bait, to hook you into revising your prices in advance of a radiant and continuous collaboration.
Nothing stops you from giving your clients a discount, especially if you think they deserve it or if, in time, you’ve created a trusting relationship. Just learn to not let yourself be taken advantage of and to understand what you can truly expect from the client in front of you.
5. “There’s a problem, I can’t give you a deposit because…”
The client hasn’t paid yet, I don’t have liquid finances available, I already paid someone else in advance and they were incompetent and won’t give me my money back…there can be hundreds of reasons, but only one result: hours of work with absolutely no guarantee and with the risk of winding up empty handed, if you have the misfortune of running into a scammer.
Always expect a deposit, even a small one, and give the client a sense of security: receipt, invoice, proof of advance payment, contract. It’s your right, nothing more, nothing less. And expect it all the more if the amount is trivial: if the person in front of you baulks at one hundred dollars, then it means that he underestimates your professionalism and isn’t prepared to invest in quality work.
6. “While you’re at it, make a logo for me, something simple…”
Minimizing the work needed to design a logo is typical of someone who wants to save money, whatever the cost, even at your expense. Let’s clarify this once and for all: restyling a website doesn’t necessarily imply the complementary creation of a company logo. The client isn’t doing you a favor by hiring you, so don’t feel obligated to give him letterhead, business cards, logos, brochures, unless it’s part of your strategy to gain clients or create loyalty.
The rule: you decide if and what to give to your client. If the person you’re working for acts like he deserves everything, think about it: do you want to play down the work you do and make him think that, for you, creating a logo is a 5 minute and 10 dollar job, and therefore you can just do it for free? Do you want your client to get used to this standard and ask you for similar “gifts” – on which you could lose hours of work – for every project he gives you? My friendly suggestion is to dot your “i”s from the outset.
7. “Why don’t you try using a blue banner, and the text in another color…”
It can be truly nerve wracking to deal with a no-it-all client that loves to take your place during the planning and design stages. Also because – as experience teaches – you’ll rarely find a client in front of you that knows more than you do about sense of aesthetic, trends, and correct color combinations.
On the contrary, most of the time you’ll hear suggestions for senseless modifications that will mar the graphics and lower the quality of the entire project. Learn from the outset to thoroughly chew and swallow your pride, all with a big helping of patience: not all clients willingly accept suggestions and know how to stay in their place, letting you do the work. Sooner or later you’ll find someone who thinks he knows more than you about everything, and rest assured that anything you do won’t satisfy his tastes.
It’s useless to start a crusade for your ideas: even if you’re right, you still risk losing a client, who could end up feeling offended and misunderstood. Therefore, try to understand if the client before you has terrible taste but an open mind, or if he could care less about your suggestions because he already knows what he wants. In that case, let it go. Satisfy his desires and put your ideas aside: in the end what really matters is the client’s happy and you get paid. The rest is just meer personal satisfaction that, sometimes, can just be set aside.
8. “Seeing as this is our first collaboration, you propose some artwork and if we like it we’ll pay you for it…”
In this manner, the astute purchaser (nothing more than an intermediary) can present his client with an indefinite number of projects, at the expense of others, without ever putting down a deposit and paying only the one chosen project. And the other three hundred designers? They’ll have worked for free. If you have just a bit of experience and some items in your portfolio, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Your already completed projects are enough to show the quality of your work, there’s no need to work for free and without a safety net. Would a restaurant serve you a meal underwritten with the clause “you pay only if you like it”? I don’t think so. If you want to be treated like a professional, start considering yourself one and refuse to compromise yourself. It’ll be worth it: want to bet on it?
In this article it is not my intention to paint everyone with the same brush: if your client ends up saying something listed here, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a con-man and should be avoided. That which I wrote comes from experience, personal and professional, and should be read with a bit of irony.
I would, however, like to expand this list by adding some other typical phrases that can act as little warning signals. I therefore invite you, if you have experiences to share, to leave them for me as comments.
Article taken from yiw network