April 21, 2016

Nightmare Clients, and How To Cope With Them

Original text by Bryce Bladon
Creative Arts, issue from November 2014



Nothing compares to the difficulty and frustration of dealing with a troublesome client.

Have you heard of The Clients From Hell blog? Well, it exists. Chances are, every each of us will encounter a crappy cient situation at some point of our careers.

In this article we’ll discuss common client problems, and get to know how to deal with it.


My clients aren’t communicating well. They’re either ignoring my messages, or they’re causing my email spam filter light up like a Christmas tree.

There are two types of clients who come under this category.

  1. The Columbo. The client initially seems kind, but as the work develops, your postbox erupts with update requests, and the closest final line it could ever get to is “Just one more thing..”.
  2. The Deadbeat Dad. These clients aren’t very communicative. They have hard times describing their needs, or what they want from you. It’s actually good if they talk to you at all!

Hence the advice: before signing anything, discuss how you and your client will communicate, specify how often you expect to get in touch in average. Try to make both contract and the brief to be as specific as possible, get certain what you will need to deliver and when. Talk through client responsibilities, too. If the situation is so that you don’t talk much, try to work on a different aspect of a project in the meanwhile. Remember also some rules of writing proper emails: concrete subject line with what you need would already get client to reply sooner. So, in a nutshell, remember to sort out each other’s responsibilities, and agree on expectations. Besides, if you are bombarding your client with emails or calls, he can’t possibly blame you for trying to keep the project on track, right?


My client is demanding more for less, and doesn’t appreciate time and effort I’ve put into my work.

The kind of clients we are talking about here are the ones that are hasty with the foreplay. They’re rather ungrateful, and tend to think you should just be thankful for the opportunity of this job.

The key to such clients lies in communicating needs – both your’s and client’s – as soon as you sit down. You should be clear about the schedule, the milestones and the nature of your work progress. And to make sure, remember to reflect these points in your brief or contract. Remember, however, that sometimes shift in the timetable is unavoidable. Try to be smart and deal with it as a professional, outlining what you should do in these kind of situations beforehand. Don’t talk down to your client, but educate them of what goes into your work. If the client insists on delivering the result sooner, or if more needs to be done, make sure that you get paid for this extra time that you’re spending. Make sure to specify such a rule prior to starting your work, though.


My client thinks he is an expert in my field.

Yes, that’s a tough one. These people believe that watching House M.D. makes them a doctor.

But don’t be sad yet – just be professional and illustrate what exactly makes you a professional! When your’s and your client’s views are contradicting, give a good argument or explanation why your client isn’t right. Make a difficult task look simple! If necessary, let your client know that something they’re suggesting will hurt the eventual product. Gain their trust by doing work well!


My client is hesitant to talk about my payment.

Perhaps this is often the easiest situation to cope with. It may sound harsh at first, and not getting money for your work is always painful.

Solution: insist on a deposit. You do so prior to starting work, and after signing the contract. If you’re undertaking a large project, have a strict payment schedule. And remember to not do more work until money is in your pocket.


Now you know how to deal with hard clients. We really hope your work experience will now get better!