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How To Identify And Deal With Different Types Of Clients

In business, being able to read people and quickly get a sense of who you’re dealing with is an invaluable skill. It turns your encounter with a client into an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the upcoming project and how it will need to be handled. It is one of the building blocks of a professional relationship.

In today’s digital age, the arena has shifted to the Web, and the online office space that most freelancers inhabit limits personal interaction. Though sussing out a client’s personality via online communication is difficult, it still remains an invaluable tool in your arsenal.

Types Of Clients
Image by Salva Barbera1.

In the freelancing field, you will encounter a range of client types. Being able to identify which you are dealing with allows you to develop the right strategy to maximize your interactions with them, and it could save your sanity. Below is a list of the most common personality types and the tell-tale signs that will tip you off.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

The Passive-Aggressive Link

Image by John Philip6.

This is the client who is very passive when you ask for initial input, but when you submit the finished product, they aggressively attack it, demanding a lot of detailed changes, both major and minor. They had an idea of what they wanted all along but kept it mostly to themselves. Even though they showed appreciation of certain ideas and elements throughout the development process, do not expect the passive-aggressive client to keep any of them as they send revisions your way.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Communication is mostly one-sided and unhelpful during project development.
  • Makes statements such as:
    • “I’m not really sure what we’re looking for.”
    • “Just do something that would appeal to us generally.”
    • “You totally missed the point of what we wanted.”

How to Deal Link

Patience is the key. Expecting the last-minute requests for revisions may soften the blow of the client’s aggressive behavior. Keep your original layered design intact so that you can easily refine and change it later (not that you wouldn’t, but it does happen). Also, make sure your contract specifies a limited number of revisions.

The Family Friend Link

Image by Celiece Aurea7.

This is the client whom you have known for years either through personal or family interaction, and this connection has landed you the job. The relationship will be tested and perhaps marred forever by what could very well be a nightmare of a project. This family friend believes he deserves a “special” price and unbridled access to your work. They will sometimes unwittingly belittle your work or not take it seriously because of their personal connection to you.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • These clients are easy to identify because… well, you know them.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “Could you just throw something together for me?”
    • “I don’t want you to think that just because I know you I want you to cut me a deal.”
    • “You’re going to charge me what?! But we go way back!”

How to Deal Link

The way to deal with this client depends on how well you know them and how much you value your relationship with them. But remember that anyone who would take advantage of such a relationship is not truly a friend, so respond accordingly. An honest approach could end up saving the relationship. But start off with a professional, not personal, tone, and they may follow your lead. Of course, if you truly value the relationship, you may want to pass on the job altogether.

The Under-Valuer Link

Image by Maxime Perron Caissy8.

Like the family friend described above, this client will devalue your creative contributions. But there is a difference: you do not actually know this person. There is no rationale for their behavior. They feel they should get a “friend’s” pricing rate not because they want to be friends with you, but because they do not see your work as being worth that much… even if they couldn’t do it themselves. Not coming from a creative background or even having had exposure to the arts can mar someone’s appreciation of the work that you do. After years in our field, we make it look easy, and that is what the under-valuer sees.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Does not respond to questions in a timely fashion.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “It’s not like it takes much effort on your part.”
    • “Couldn’t you just throw something together for me?”
    • “How hard can this really be?”

How to Deal Link

Confidence is key here. You know what your work demands and how well you do your job. The under-valuer will recognize this confidence. Don’t back down or concede a point to the client when discussing your role in the project. Standing firm will establish the professional and respectful tone you deserve. If the client does not respond in kind, cut your losses and decline their project.

The Nit-Picker Link

Image by Bob Smith9.

This client is never fully satisfied with the work you do and will constantly pick on minor details here and there that they dislike and want changed. Do not be surprised if they ask you to change these same details over and over ad nauseam. It is not a sign of disrespect (as it is with the other clients), but simply the nature of the person. They may have been burned in some other project and are now unsatisfied with everything in their path, including your work.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Complains almost consistently about unrelated things.
  • Personal outlook comes with a scathing bite.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “How hard is it to [fill in the blank with any rant]?”
    • “I’m really not sure about this element here. It just doesn’t pop!”
    • “I don’t think you are really getting it.”

How to Deal Link

Once again, patience is important (especially if you have some sadistic reason for taking on nit-picking clients). Try to detach yourself from the project as much as possible, so that the constant nit-pickery does not affect you personally. It is easy to feel hurt or get defensive when your work is repeatedly questioned, and you may begin to doubt your skill. But understand that this is not about you or your talent; it is simply a personality trait of the person you are dealing with. And once again, protect yourself in the contract.

The Scornful Saver Link

Image by Ivan Petrov10.

This client has similarities to the nit-picker and under-valuer but is actually impressed with your work and skill set. The criticize you merely to undermine your confidence in an attempt to lower your pricing rate. Unlike some other client types, the scornful saver understands creative people and their processes. But they are cheap and manipulative, and their scheme may have worked in their favor once or twice in the past. So, they continue to subtly abuse the people they hire in the hope of saving every last penny.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Compliments always come with a less-than-flattering qualifier.
  • Takes time to respond to questions, sometimes making you ask more than once.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “I really like what you’ve done overall, but I’m unsure about one or two things.”
    • “You may not have gotten exactly what we’re looking for, but you’re close.”

How to Deal Link

Once again, it is all about confidence. Having a solid understanding of your field and being confident in your knowledge and abilities will keep this client’s manipulation in check. Standing your ground and even calling the client on some of their tactics could shift the balance of power over to you. Be prepared to walk away from the project if the disrespect and manipulation continues. There will be other projects and other clients.

The “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er Link

Image by Maria Beliakova11.

Where to begin… When this client farms a project out to you, they make clear to you that they know how to do what they’re hiring you to do but that just don’t have the time to actually do it. They may be working at a firm or an entrepreneur; either way, you are there to pick up their slack. If they’re at a firm, you could be in for an interesting situation; they were likely hired for their particular style and proposals, and now you will have to please two sets of people: the person who hired you and the people who hired him.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Will generally be (or look) hectic and rushed.
  • Communication from them often takes the form of short bursts of information.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “I could easily handle this if my schedule weren’t so full.”
    • “Really? Not sure that’s the direction I would’ve gone in, but whatever.”
    • “Remember, you are filling my shoes, and they’re pretty big.”

How to Deal Link

The “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er will likely have recognized your talent and skill right away, which is why they hired you. They merely want you to know that this project (and thus you) is not above their ability. And though these reminders will grate on you periodically, they will let you run with your ideas, perhaps offering suggestions or feedback on the final design.

The Control Freak Link

Image by Michal Zacharzewski12.

This client desperately needs to micro-manage every little detail of the project, no matter their qualifications. No decision may be made without their explicit input and approval. This tiresome client forces himself into your workflow, heedless of either invitation or protest, and will demand access to you at whim. The concepts of boundaries and strict work processes are easily lost on the control freak, who constantly disrupts the flow. They may also believe you lack dedication or preparedness, further reinforcing their need to interfere.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Initial contact is long, detailed and one-sided, with little input sought from you.
  • Your input remains unsought as the project pushes forward.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “This way we can keep in contact 24/7 in case you have any questions, or I do.”
    • “I really know best what is right for the project and what is not.”
    • “What do you mean, I’m distracting you? I am the only thing keeping this project on track!”

How to Deal Link

If you absolutely must take on this client, for whatever reason, resign yourself to the fact that you will not be steering at any point. You will have to detach yourself from the work because you will have no control at all. You will merely be constructing, not designing, so just let go and let it happen. You may want to exclude this project from your portfolio.

The Dream Client Link

Image by Piotr Lewandowski13.

This client, widely dismissed as a myth, does in fact exist and understands the full scope and artistry of your work. They value your role and creative contributions and want you in the driver’s seat as soon as the project gets underway. They are timely with responses and payments… payments that they did not “negotiate” but rather accepted for what they are. They reflect on your suggestions and have confidence in your capabilities.

Identifying Characteristics Link

  • Is enthusiastic about the project and your involvement in it.
  • Communication shows awareness of and respect for your role.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “Here’s the brief we prepared. The rest is pretty much up to you.”
    • “We like what we’ve seen and trust you’ll do great things for us.”

How to Deal Link

Don’t brag! Just enjoy the ride and hold on to them for as long as you possibly can!

Wrapping Up Link

Being able to identify the type of client you are dealing with will prepare you for the job ahead. It will also help you decide whether to accept the job in the first place. Your contract will reflect the power dynamics of the project, so the more you know about the client, the better able you will be to adjust the contract as necessary. Have you come across other types of clients in your freelancing career? Please let us know in the comments.

Further Resources Link

Because contracts are such an important tool, here are some resources to help you draft them.


Footnotes Link

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Rob Bowen is a staff writer for Web Hosting Geeks and Top Web Hosting, a longtime freelance designer, and burgeoning videographer and filmmaker whose creative voice and works can be heard and found around the web.

  1. 1

    Very nice article, we are still searching for the “Dream Client” ;o)

  2. 2

    awesome, this should be printed as a handbook

  3. 3

    Wow! that was really very useful information. Thanx a ton smashingmag.. your rock! m/

  4. 4

    I could literary see a face for every kind of clients you described here.
    Great article indeed. :)

  5. 5

    LOL, just soooo recognizable.

  6. 6

    Great post! I think I have encountered every single one of these people. I’m dealing with a nit-picker right now.

  7. 7

    Awesome post Rob! I laughed when I read “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er, what an appropriate title for certain clients .. and you are so right about them all including the “Dream Client”, they all exist :)

  8. 8

    I laught a lot. I could reconized most profiles. And I could verified -maybe hundred times- with a Passive-Aggressive profile you MUST keep your original design files :-)))
    Of course they can’t remember you present in the end the original files but the guy is happy, just because he thinks his ideas are better than yours. He just can’t remember after weeks of modifications the look and feel of your original design.
    I’m dealing actually with a mix of “passive-agressive” + “I-Could-Do-This-Myself” (better of course) + a dose of misogyny. I do not think the projet will be in my portfolio and… I will work again with this client. Never had a so agressive client! Patience and confidence, patience and confidence…

  9. 9

    Just saying it out loud makes it easier to deal with. This was like a much-needed miniature therapy sesh :)

  10. 10

    Fireleaf Design

    October 15, 2009 2:34 am

    Nice… I see them all.

  11. 11

    Great article – but it made an thought pop-up to my mind:
    If I as a designer try to determine which type of client I’m working with, and if the client has a lot of experience with other designers – how will they identify me as a certain type of designer, depending on the way I behave? ;)

  12. 12

    I have gone through with all kinds of client in my freelance career. Really informative and helpful article… Keep posting article like that

  13. 13

    So true… nice article :)

  14. 14


    October 15, 2009 3:52 am

    oh, there’s one other type of client, tho i’m not sure how you’d categorize him…

    he’s *just* discovered the internet, but knows nothing of it other’n people can MAKE MILLIONS using it. he wants ALL THE LATEST gizmos, without knowing what any of them are. he has *an idea* for a site, but he thinks that you just come up with “hey, i’d like a site about widgets”, the web designer waves their magic wand and *voila!* a complete site about widgets appears without his ever having to tell you what a widget is. “you’ll need to give me some information about widgets.” “well, yes, like i said, i want a widget site and with things about widgets on it.” “what’s a widget?” “well, you know, the site will be about widgets and explain them there.” evidently, as soon as i can build the site, i’ll be able to go there and reference what it is so i can know how to build it.

    personally, i call him the “poke him in the eye” client.

  15. 15

    Fantastic article. I wish I had read this sooner, I’ve had all of these at least once haha.

  16. 16

    Very useful, thanks for the information:D!

  17. 17

    Clients are a pain. Full stop. Good article.

  18. 18

    Good article :)

    Quite comforting to know that other people have to deal with these kinds of clinets as well.

  19. 19

    Very good article. What about the “False Promises” client? These are mostly the start-ups that claim you’ll get rich right along with them when things really get going. I’ve dealt with quite a few of these types. They want cheap work up front but claim my return on the back-end will be well worth it. These types usually try to self-market themselves and fail miserably.

  20. 20

    If you are going to do work for a friend, do it for free or don’t do it at all.

    For the rest: have a signed contract spelling out the timeline, scope of project and scope of revisions. Get a signature for each deliverable and each revision. Any deviation from the contract will incur more payment (this usually stops them dead in their tracks). No need to figure anything out or play games. No contract, no good.

    Good article! (each one of these clients deserves their own article) I personally have worked with ALL of these clients. The bad ones show themselves at the beginning of your career or in a bad economy. If you are really good, the bad ones won’t want to work with you and the good ones will. You can look at them as archetypes. Demons sent from hell to test you. Each test you pass, a stronger demon is sent until finally you have vanquished them all. :) The way out of hell is to go through it. (Dante’s Inferno)

    The economy is coming back people. Raise your rates and your confidence and take no prisoners. God bless the freelancers and those who start their own company, and always take the road less traveled (Robert Frost)

    Cheers -David

  21. 21

    Michael Murphy

    October 15, 2009 4:49 am

    Haha im still waiting for my dream client!

    Most of mine seem to be of the nit picker type

  22. 22

    Anirudh K Mahant

    October 15, 2009 4:49 am

    Freelancing does come with Pros and Cons, since your the Boss and the only one to Blame is yourself so its deep down tricky. Freelancing also means Freedom! the one magical word we all love to have in our work, if taken the wrong way that Freedom is also revoked soon!

    And here goes something I read in a Barber’s Shop “Clients are kings! but do Kings bargain?” pretty obnoxious for Clients but sadly true; strikes right into their pride :)

    Experience is you best teacher and guide in this world. Clients are also teachers in this case :) so, you gotta pack your bags go to school everyday and learn a new lesson… GREAT ARTICLE TO READ, RELISH AND LEARN…

  23. 23

    Nice article. Dream clients are actually more common than you might think. My team cranks out 1-4 websites a month, and normally at least one of those projects is extremely smooth. The really difficult/slow clients make up for it though :-(

  24. 24

    What a great article! I have definitely had experience with all of these client types, and I’m pretty sure one of my clients was all the types (minus the Dream Client) combined!

  25. 25

    I once had a Passive-Aggressive-Nit-Picking-Under-Valueing-Control-Freak. It’s 18 months of my life I wish I could get back. Having a contract and written approvals with this person was uselss. So after the project completed I cut them loose to be the “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er for all future versions of the project. They now pay themselves nothing for the work and it clearly shows in the product they are getting their monies worth. I can say I did learn much from the experience, though.

    As for the last client type, “The Dream Client”, in my circle we call them “The Unicorn”.

  26. 26

    Amber Weinberg

    October 15, 2009 7:04 am

    I actually have one of those mystical dream clients that keep coming back. They listen to my advice (without being afraid to ask questions either) They pay on time, are respectful and great to deal with. Just make sure you treat them right :)

  27. 27

    I wonder if it would be inappropriate to send this to a client, telling them which category they fall into ^_^

    So apt! So true!

  28. 28

    I think I’ll have to write an article from the client’s point of view : – )

  29. 29

    anonymous independent designer dude

    October 15, 2009 10:50 am

    I once had an acquaintance/”almost-friend” approach me about a project. I cut him a huge deal on my cost estimate for the project, and he thanked me with a reaction straight out of the Under-Valuer playbook. In his mind, this groundbreaking, programming-intensive project (which, he claimed, would make him a very wealthy man) should only cost him the equivalent of a new DVD.

    My response was to tell him I had misplaced the decimal point in the quoted price, and that the actual cost was 10x the figure I had initially presented him with. I then apologized for giving him the mistaken impression that it would cost so little, and recommended some places where he might work with international designers of even my dirt-cheap “misquote” was still too much for him. ;)

    Needless to say, I didn’t land that project. But that’s okay, since it turned into a project I didn’t want to land.

    A month later I landed my very own Dream Client!

  30. 30

    Well, 12 Breeds of Client at FreelanceSwitch was a lot better.

  31. 31

    Very Perfect and Awesome Article here.. :D
    last week I had a “The “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er Client”. He was in real rush .. hell lot disturbance in my life :D

  32. 32

    I would add to “Dream Client”: “Here’s your payment. I know the contract says it isn’t due for another couple of weeks, but I had them make it into this week’s run!”

  33. 33

    It’s a great article Robert!, but I figure the dream client died out one million years ago! perhaps before dinosaurs :(

  34. 34

    I finally met the Dream Client last week. They can actually make you feel valued and in return the designer pays back with a special dedication. is a win win all the way. Good clients will have an impact in your life-span expectancy.Good Article, Thanks!


  35. 35

    Great Article! I love these types of entries and almost feel that they are therapeutic for the community.

    My 2 cents ->
    Stick to a contract and be patient with the tough ones, but always make sure your clients appreciate your abilities before you sign them on or you WILL become a PUNCHING BAG.

  36. 36

    Yes. yes yes yes.

    And sometimes they act like this:

  37. 37

    I was dealing with nit-picker and under-valuer for a year on variable projects and I almost lost my enthusiasm for this job. Some of them are like energy-vampires ready to suck you out. Now we have our dream client (at last! – just one!) and enjoying it as lot as possible. It’s just few of them, or it is based on where you live? :) I see it’s global..

  38. 38

    I agree with David Platt. I have learned this the hard way and have now worked out a contract to avoid people trying to make far too many changes or overstep their boundaries… and if they want to then they’ll have to pay!

  39. 39

    Excellent post! I am dealing with the passive-aggressive client and I am glad that I am going in the right way. I agree with you. The Dream Client exists and I have dealt with two such people. I should consider myself lucky!

  40. 40

    Great article, it’s both funny and informative. I’ve had a few of each I think!!! All in all, I have a lovely clientelle, save one or two, and I couldn’t ask for a better bunch!

  41. 41

    Edward Caissie

    October 15, 2009 5:39 am

    Great article! This will be going into my online library.

  42. 42

    Awesome article and VERY helpful :-) I will bookmark it and use it as reference when taking on new clients. Thanks :-D

  43. 43

    kathryn barlow

    October 15, 2009 5:43 am

    Great tips, it makes it easier to deal with these types of clients when you have a solid idea of the best way of going about it.

    Can really help take you from “woe-is-me land” to getting it done.

  44. 44

    One of my clients is a dream type! Pleasure to work with! :)

  45. 45

    Oh so true. Met them all, many, many times!

  46. 46

    This is such a great article. I do luckily have a couple of dream clients, but I also worked with 3 scornful savers for 2 years. With those types (and a lot of the other negatives on here) you mostly just need to put your foot down and accept that if they go somewhere else, oh well – you’re probably better off. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. ;)

  47. 47

    Thanks for the great article. I was thinking of another client type that I’ve had experience with:

    They are cheap and know it, but try to make up for it by promising future projects and will pay you well when things take off. They may bring you many small projects, as long as you hold up your end of the deal, which is to keep prices low and quality high. If your prices don’t mach their budget constraints, they take it personal and may walk out on you.
    – Overly enthusiastic about the project and self-pitying about the cost
    – Makes you think they’re doing you a favor
    – Makes such statements as:
    “Once we get this finished, big things are going to happen.”
    “You and I are going places”
    “If this does well, I’ve got a lot more work for you.”
    Again, confidence. “The promiser” may tickle your ears when things are slow, but keep in mind the opportunity cost when dealing with them. Don’t feel bad about sticking to your price points, even if they go somewhere else.

  48. 48

    Amen! Excellent article!

    The perfect contract is a smart boundary to set before hand…

  49. 49

    Laura Kinoshita

    October 15, 2009 6:45 am

    And don’t forget …. the client you take today is the client you can’t take tomorrow! So have the courage to turn down difficult clients … or at least charge them 30% more and let them decide to walk away. Have the courage to know the right client will come by, as long as your providing excellent service and getting the word out about yourself.

  50. 50

    Edgar González

    October 15, 2009 7:03 am

    Excellent article!!! Great Tips!!!

  51. 51

    Having had clients since 1997 I have seen them all. David makes a good point in that as your skills increase you do decrease the less than helpful client. In the last 4 projects I have worked on they have ALL been dream clients but I am very good at weeding out the wasters from the prospects.

    You have missed some though…

    The “no-content client” – This client sells widgets and wants a website to sell them. This person has no logo, no brand colors, no images (or maybe a few hundred in a brochure which you need to scan), no text and no idea on layout. They expect you to produce a fully working, highly graphical, content rich website from thin air.

    How to deal with:
    Make sure you have a contract beforehand stating timescales depend on the client getting the content to you. You are a designer, not an author so get them to supply the text (they, after all, know more about the widget than you ever will) and at least give you some example sites they like so you can get a feel for how much work will really be involved.

    “The Amazon for a fiver” client
    I have had dozens and dozens and dozens of emails me asking for a site like ebay or amazon, with the same functionality but it needs to be within a £100 budget. Seriously these types seem never ending for the last 3 years.

    How to deal with:
    Don’t. Simply walk away because as soon as you accept you will have months of work for a few hours pay. They are commonplace and a waste of time.

    You have to be firm in your commitment. No matter how hard up you are you WILL regret taking on clients you would not take on if circumstances were better. These clients bring you down both mentally and physically and I have learnt from bitter experience it is always better to say no than yes!

  52. 52

    Thanks for this article SM! You guys ROCK the house, seriously. I just had a meeting yesterday with a “Family Friend” and it was not a very happy meeting. It’s always good to read that I am not all alone in working with these different personalities. Thanks!

  53. 53

    Great article! I work with an in-house design and marketing team and I probably work with one of each of these type of “clients”. It has forced me to learn how to DEAL with different needs, values and perspectives. If you don’t like dealing with people ……. get over it and get better at it :)

  54. 54

    I’ve had most of these (all of them if you include time with previous employers).

    I currently have a dream client that pays me within 12 hours, every time. I’ve even received payments from her before she’s been invoiced, simply because she thinks she owes me and wants to make sure I’m happy (and motivated to keep working for her, I presume).

  55. 55

    I did a CD album art design for a client a while back and he was somewhere between control-freak and dream client… he knew how he wanted it, but wasn’t over the top and paid a tip that was very nice… I’m new to the design business so this article was very insightful… bookmark!

  56. 56

    Dimi Arhontidis

    October 15, 2009 8:12 am

    I had the pleasure of working with the dream client ( they were just awesome, respected my knowledge, experience, and work. That was the best project I have worked on in a while. So yes, they do exist!

  57. 57

    Scary I now know all of these after 3 years @ this game.

  58. 58

    I second the motion of David Platt. Always have a contract -with a Statement of Work, and Deliverables, total fees & milestone payments. Also: Don’t start the work without a deposit. Invoice on time for every milestone, and ask (politely) for payment. Don’t negotiate on price. Be clear, direct and prompt in your communication, and communicate a lot. Be the dream vendor. Be OK with saying No.

  59. 59

    Gad, where were you when I started my last project? And what if you have a client that has more than one of those characteristics? Still, it comes down to confidence and being firm in your abilities.

  60. 60

    Excellent typology tips, thanks, and useful for protecting ones personal interests in general!
    This stuff should be included in the training courses for all kinds of service providers.

  61. 61

    really nice post! i am proud to say that i´m working for a “Dream Client” :) it´s just great.. like you wrote :)

    greetz from germany!

  62. 62

    I think that nice folks who hire designers don’t realize that artists love creative input. They are trying to be nice by saying “I trust what you come up with”.
    Well I guess after a few dream clients I am just spoiled ;)

  63. 63

    Wow I have been doing business for 2 years and I must say I’ve dealt with all of these types of clients. I don’t think the dream client exists unless you are working for free.

    Ok the undervaluer, the worst indeed.

    I would categorize the undervaluer with the technologically incompetent client. They have no idea how to use a computer besides checking their email and they know their daughter occasionally uses it. I have no idea how I work with so many of these people. Try explaining the concept of flash to these people let alone the process of developing a website. Either way just explain why your design with make them more money and they usually shut up.

  64. 64

    From my experience, the client-types described here are pretty accurate. Although, there can definitely be some overlap between them. For “the dream client” I would add something to the effect of “pays on time” ;)

  65. 65

    I think I have at least one of every one of those types in my client roster! But happily I do have a “dream client” to keep me centered. ;-)

    Nice article – made me smile to know I’m not alone.

  66. 66

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words. So glad that the article is useful and on point. I love all of the suggestions for the clients I missed, brilliant!! And to all you who have your Dream Clients, I envy you all, hold on to them tightly!

  67. 67

    You forgot to mention “Look for the future client” – I guess :D

    This type of client always wants to pay you less for the present works and likes to tell you the story of big future works of big money!!
    “Do this work for cheap, I am going to land a big project within 4 months and it will be yours! It will be a big project of $x,xxx”

    Only one way to handle this type of client IMO – don’t do their works!! Because that future work would never come and they will continue to suck you!!

    It is from my personal experience :(

  68. 68

    Absolutely LOVED this
    thank you for writing this article. I get down about clients a lot and this definitely makes it all seems much more worth while. It’s also nice to know I’m not alone!

  69. 69

    I like what Gaird said: never negotiate on price. If you’ve come in with a fair price, that’s the price. If you let a client knock your fair price down then in the BEST case they’ll be a client you resent.

  70. 70

    Wow. This is a fantastic article, thank you. I can say I’ve personally experienced a lot of the under-pricing types. I have, luckily, gotten one or two dream clients.

    This article did make me think, though, it would be really beneficial (to freelancers at least) to write an article on preparing a bulletproof contract.

  71. 71

    I instructed a 2.5 hour course years ago called “How to get more from your creative resources.”

    It was about the creative mind, how to frame feedback in a constructive way, you get more flies with honey than vinegar, etc.

    It was selfish, really. I wanted to turn these students (all post-graduate peeps in marketing management) into dream clients.

    This would have been a nice eye-opener for them. Thanks for sharing.

  72. 72

    Too true. I get the “friend and family” a lot… :’3

  73. 73

    Randall G. Leighton

    October 15, 2009 8:51 pm

    Great article. I’m going to make good use of these tips. Thank you.

    I never create a website for free. Ever. Nobody should – unless you’re 14. A professional website takes a considerable chunk of time.

    Always overestimate time. Clients usually don’t have all the materials ready, anyway.

    Quantify exactly what you will do for the agreed upon price. 6 pics, 500 words, 7 links, 2 changes, etc. Put it in writing and have all parties sign. Don’t forget to include your fees for additional work. Then, bill ’em when they go over. You will look professional and gain their respect.

  74. 74

    Good stuff, this is great!

  75. 75

    ^_^ Great …… I enjoyed every min of this and very true and useful.

  76. 76

    great article as always ;)

    The “no-content client” like Simon Day said in his comment is also a well know too me ;)

  77. 77

    This article is right on! You were all reading my mind! I think I have experienced each and everyone one of these types of clients and I just started 2 yrs ago. Key things that I learned as a freelancer is that no one values your time like you do. Also, less technical people (which are generally all of your clients) do not understand the concept of development time and testing. It almost always takes longer than you allotted in the original contract. Clients also don’t know that when requirements increase the time line and costs increases!

  78. 78

    Elizabeth Richardson

    October 15, 2009 1:53 pm

    Fabulous explanation. Very much apprciate the examples of what each client might say so you can listen to the conversation to pick the personality as well.

    I’ve very lucky to be working with a dream client right now.

  79. 79

    Kartlos Tchavelachvili

    October 15, 2009 1:59 pm

    I enjoyed reading this article, thanks.
    This was funny statement: “Could you just throw something together for me?” :)))

  80. 80

    I had one I-can-do-it-myself-er client who actually downloaded all the files from the FTP and tried to finish an app himself in order to avoid the final payment.

    When he couldn’t (only a couple of lines were missing hahaha) then he called me again and paid me to finish the work. He kept saying that the project was for a client of his and they hadn’t paid him so he couldn’t pay me. WTF? Why should I care about that?

    Months later he called me for another project. The first one was such a nightmare that I gave him a polite excuse and didn’t took it.

    You know. You are a human being and you are affected by the environment. Don’t take a project if it is going to degrade your confidence because it will show with the other clients you have.

  81. 81

    Thanks for sharing. Really great article.

  82. 82

    I have had all of them at least once. The “dream client” depends not only on the person, but the project itself!

  83. 83

    This quote annoys me …
    If you are going to do work for a friend, do it for free or don’t do it at all.

    If you employ that attitude then your bringing down the whole industry and the value of a good designer. The person who the work is for is running a business and your giving them a service which they would other wise have to pay top dollar for, Im sure if that person was running a business they wouldn’t appreciate friends rocking up on the door saying “Hey I need some plumbing done at my house” then you as the friend saying to them what “your going to charge me for your time”. It works both ways just because its design work it shouldn’t be perceived as something you just do for free.

    I always give them a heavy discount but I’m not going to do it for free.

    I understand there are special circumstance where you are really close friends then the logic above probably doesn’t apply I’m more referring to “Friends in General”.

    • 84

      No! It depends on the culture. For some cultures demanding money from family or family friends is extremely rude and anti-social, far worse than slurping your drink loudly at the dinner table.

      The value of a designer is not just measured by the money he gets paid. Perhaps in many types of Western cultures (mostly Northern Europeans cultures, or Western cultures of Northern European origin) this is more the case, but in the majority of the world this is not the case.

  84. 85

    Scott Haslehurst

    October 15, 2009 6:22 pm

    Very nice article. Thank You.

  85. 86

    As many before me I could see some of my clients coming close to certain types. But did anybody else wonder what kind of client he would be?

  86. 87

    Great article indeed! I have experience working with all these client types… but trust me… the worst is “The Family Friend” type! Totally agree with @Jeff

  87. 88

    Good article. Brings to mind that passing on a “bad” client opens the opportunity to take a “good” or at least “less-than-bad” client.

    I would much rather pass on a bad client than pass on a good client while the bad ones are sucking the life out of me.

  88. 89

    Awesome, really useful and kinda funny.

  89. 90

    this is how it is :) really appreciate this article.

  90. 91

    beautifull! haha actualy make me laugh at some clients cuzz i recognized them so much :)

    fun to read, Nice article!

  91. 92

    LOVE IT! The Dream Client AKA the golden Grail for GDs ;P and it is just a great myth!!!

  92. 93

    There are two types I’m missing in this list:

    The “I know it all!”-er
    This type of client is probably one of the most annoying ones in the business. The really think they know all the ins and outs and at some level it even looks like it. But after a couple of talks it seems that they have no idea what they are talking about.

    Identifying Characteristics
    – Uses a lot of hot terms, but have no idea what it means
    – Tells you how to do your work
    – Makes such statements as:
    – “If you do it like this it will work better”
    – “We would like to see some [hot term]”

    How to Deal
    Patience, patience and again patience… Don’t try to teach anything and just go with the flow. When it really comes to a critical point just tell them it ain’t gonna work, but finish the job and cut it loose.

    The indirect client
    This client isn’t the one you’re doing the work for because you’re working for the client of your client.

    Identifying Characteristics
    – It takes ages before an answer comes back
    – The answers you get from questions makes no point at all and seems to be written by someone else then your contact person.
    – Complains a lot when you send a higher bill than anticipated or when the second project costs more (while for the same subclient)

    How to Deal
    Try to have direct contact to the subclient, since this will make the job a lot easier, although most companies won’t allow this. In that case make sure you pre-calculate the extra time and work even while you know it can be done notime.

  93. 94

    Brilliant article! Most of my clients fall mostly into one category with some traits of another category added just to keep it interesting. So now, thanks to you, I now have a point of reference – you’re fabulous!! x

  94. 95

    Andre Rodrigues

    October 16, 2009 3:09 am

    Oh man, Perfect article. Especially the one about the control freaks. There seem to be too many of them out there. Love the part about excluding them out of the portfolio. So True

  95. 96

    Very nice and informative article – will surely help me and others ! – Thanks SM

  96. 97

    Recently had a “Dream Client” myself. All contact was done through email, never spoke or met up once, changes to the initial mockup were minimal and payment was always done same-day.

    I miss her!

  97. 98

    Love it!

  98. 99

    Wow, you really hit the nail on the head with this one. Thanks for the advice.

  99. 100

    My boss has somehow managed to be all but the last two (control freak and perfect client) wrapped up in single person. Yes, it is just as fun as it sounds to deal with them.

  100. 101

    Here’s my experience with the Under-Valuer:

    The guy wanted a deal because I think he felt he was giving me the chance of a lifetime to work for him. :(

    (He wanted a site with tailored illustration and about 20 pages of content for $500) I should have known better. He gave me his content in ALL CAPS WITH GRAMATICAL ERRORS AND IN EXCEL.

    I finished the site and sent him a proof. He approved and when the content was inserted, he asked me to retype all of his content with upper and lower case. I told him that he would have to do that since that would take such a long time to complete and that was not part of the deal. He threatened that he would not pay me if I didn’t. So, I said goodbye. Then he threatened to SUE me because he’d “lost thousands” because the new site was not up.

    He didn’t do that. Instead, he took my original artwork from the proof and went to another company to finish the job. They completely butchered the site because the proof was low-res. The site looks hilarious. You can tell he ripped off the images. If I could figure out a way to get revenge. Oh well.

  101. 102

    how about clients that are all of the above(minus dream)?

  102. 103

    Would be funnier if it wasn’t so true. I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed it.

  103. 104

    So painful coz all so true ….. lord!

  104. 105

    That is not what passive aggressive means. Using a term that means one thing to describe something else for the sake of an article is retarded.

    Also keep your layered work around so you can change it? REALLY? Because you would always do this? But it does happen? What.

    Average article is average.

    104 : This is why talking in person is better but people refuse to believe it(not that you are not doing that but a lot of people seem very pro non-person contact).

  105. 106

    Read this from a client we currently have been dealing with now for 6 months. He makes no sense and is driving us (well me especially) crazy. Please make sure you read the entire novel of an email we got because the ending is unbelievable I have no idea what he is talking about. Also note that in our contract it states we only do 2 revisions to a design but this project has 13 revisions and counting and we are trying to be nice and not charge him anymore however he is wanting a discount now. WHAT? I don’t see that happening.

    We need to be somewhere between revision 5 and revision 7. Revision 5 works great below the red horizontal navigation bar. The only change I suggest is removing all curl-effect shading from the left/right edges (of the cream-colored/brown areas containing the text/buddha face … not the red border’ish area; please leave the red border’ish area alone). The left edge is fine; do not adjust it. As to the right edge, again – only BELOW the red horizontal navigation bar, remove all curl-effect shading (i.e., the quick fade to black along the right edge, that being the edge of the brown section (which has the tree fading to the buddha face), not the red area; please leave the red border-ish area alone). Basically, I’m giving up on the trying to have a curl effect BELOW the red horizontal navigation bar, and so I want that area (BELOW the red horizontal navigation bar) to appear to lie flat on the red border’ish area background type thing. From (and including) the red horizontal navigation bar up to the top, I prefer revision 7 – sort-of; we finally got the shading to take over the right edge of the stacked-rocks image, but that has (1) darkened the red border to a not-pleasing color that is different from the rest of the red border (so we need to remove the shading from the red border); and (2) it has caused the shading to be a little to dramatic in the horizontal gold accent bars and the red horizontal navigation bar (so we need to dial that back). As to the left side of that upper area, the shading over the image section is just fine in revision 5 but, in that same revision, it is not enough over the horizontal gold accent bars and the red horizontal navigation bar. In revision 7, the shading over those horizontal bars ends up being slightly too much, and the shading over the image section ends up being way too much. Finally, the red border on this side, too, ended up getting darkened so that it is no longer the right color, and so that needs to be dialed back to the color that it was. The effect we’re looking for here is, coupled to the flat, almost 2-dimensional look of the below-the-horizontal-navigation-bar section, something of a 3-D marquee that is flat across the front, which sits somewhat in the foreground (compared to the lower section), and which has rounded sides. If you were to take a line of double-AA batteries lying side by side, lash them together (kinda like a raft of batteries), and stretch cloth across the ‘raft’ to create a smooth surface, that’s the shape of the upper section (i.e., a marquee with short curved sides). Then, imagine the bottom section as a flat sheet of paper suspended from the bottom of this relatively 3-dimensional marquee. That’s the concept.

  106. 107

    LOL @Laura Wright! Good luck with the project :)

    Great article!

  107. 108

    Anita Henderson

    October 16, 2009 1:58 pm

    I’ve created a bookmark to this article so that I can quickly refer to it the next time I am almost driven to tears by customers that sometimes belong to several of the categories above. And it reminds me that I’m not alone.
    Thank you so much for this article. It has made my day.

  108. 109

    @ Luara, wow just wow. BTW what exactly is a curl effect? Now I want to see this curl effect. You know what this thread needs? It needs more curl effect(queue Christopher Walken).

  109. 110

    aaaaah, the under-valuer……

  110. 111

    Great article! Thanks!

  111. 112

    Great article. I think we have all had these problem clients.

    I can truthfully say that all of my clients are dream clients! Yes, you read that right. Stay at this business long enough and you can spot (and quickly dismiss) problem clients before you take them on as clients. Just takes years of practice and being very honest with yourself AND your potential clients. Heck, me being honest with my clients about what I expect weeds out a good number of problem clients.

    I keep a ready supply of other developers who will take “anyone” as a client and I pass the problems on to them. Evil, yes…but it works. ;-)

  112. 113

    thank you so much for the article. It helps a lot. And i learn a lot

  113. 114

    lol…….love the article…but after reading i found every type in one single client……but thnx to you now i know how to handle him…..thnx

  114. 115

    Great article. Now I can be sure it’s not me it’s them.
    Usually I recognize trouble coming when they start telling what they don’t want, but asked what do they want are not able to tell anything.

    Luckily I had few of Dream clients in my way. If not them I would give up on being a designer by now.

    P.S. Sorry Laura :) Your client is a hardcore, but, hey, look at the bright side – it happens once a lifetime (well,… at least not every day). My suggestion – tell him changes he has requested will take a month to do and ask him to specify each of the points he mentioned. :)) I’m not sure it will work, but what do you have to loose? Client? :)))

  115. 116

    Michiel Ebberink

    October 19, 2009 3:58 am

    Thanks for this article. Loved it.

  116. 117

    You missed one though

    the “End Game” Client.

    Those people are all about hammering on delivery date and useless about the required details in getting there, only tell you about mission-critical details after you have completed a layout or edit.

    “When are you finally gonna be done yet?”
    “Cant you just ________ by tomorrow?”
    “I have a major Investor looking at the site” ( usually a lie )

    They are big on fire-drill urgency that doesn’t actually have substance.

    I tell these people that “You cannot Frost a Cake while its still in the oven”

  117. 118


    October 19, 2009 7:56 am

    I love this article, it just about sums up “clients” in one easy article. Obviously allow “leeway” but brilliant article…

  118. 119

    Love it :-) So true!

    However, it is partially up to ourselves to push the client in the direction we want. Never give in, do not let you get used in any way, stick to your policy, NEVER TAKE ON A PAID JOB FOR FAMILY OR FRIENDS and when some client does not give you the right feeling, be strong enough to refuse the job.

  119. 120

    Sooo spot on!

    I have been in the business for a while and pretty much ran into all of them, will definitely do some social experimenting with your advice! Great stuff and thank god im not the only one dealing with this!

  120. 121

    :)) yup … everywhere is the same. Nice article

  121. 122

    i’m a regular on this blog/resource/website but this is the first time i’m commenting :)

    great article, well put. am facing the sad brunt of a control freak for the last eight months so i can fully sympathise with this post. loved it!

    had a question though, could i turn it into a short booklet (with credits and print-res files sent your way as well)? i’d like to distribute it to some of the students i teach at srishti, india (you’ll find their site online, just not posting here). thanks!

  122. 123

    goood job Smahing!

    actually the worst clients I’ve ever had was ‘The Control Freak’,
    seriously you may loos most of your hair during the project.
    I’m almost bald now…..
    and also I hate “no-content client” as Simon said…

  123. 124

    Yeah, true, I have seen the passive aggresive client before. Totally, cool and acts like they are comfortable with everything through the entire job, and then *BAM* a huge packet of irrelavent changes and then acting like your lagging. I just keep it cool, because mostly it is them projecting thier anxiety upon your design, thinking that the link color is going to affect thier sales…Just stay cool…and be like…”yeah…I’m happy to met your needs and taste, just send me the changes and I’ll send you the invoice for the extra work.” and then see what they say…:>

  124. 125

    Vivified Design

    October 20, 2009 4:42 pm

    I have had my share of all types of clients and the one thing I have always found that holds true is that no matter how frustrated I may get – the client is 10 times as frustrated.

    It is the nature of the business we have chosen to deal with the best and the worst.

    My only advice is to be patient – I have had more great clients than bad. In the end I usually just try to teach them what they do not understand and hope for the best.

    Thanks Smashing Magazine for breaking the silence on this subject though.



  125. 126

    On the nose! Applies to in house designers as well; my job is proof that a whole corporate culture can be one type of client. Mine is “Control Freak”. Lucky me. <sarcasm

  126. 127

    Great article! Anyone who has worked with clients for anywhere from a few minutes to many years will run into every one of these types. This could have been just a fun read, but the fact that you included sound advice for how to deal with each type made this truly useful.

  127. 128

    LoL ( You cannot Frost a Cake while its still in the oven” ) true true………

  128. 129

    This post is funny!
    Reminds me BigLebowski profiling post, I came across the other day.


  129. 130

    Maicon Sobczak

    October 21, 2009 2:51 pm

    Good article.
    I have some couples of “Dream Clients” an this make me feel motivated.

  130. 131

    So true. Very useful. Thanks.

  131. 132

    Thank you Smashing magazine. I read through all the comments, this is such an edifying topic to the design community. Keep up the rocking work!

  132. 133

    I loved this post. So many of these client types are people I have dealt with in the past. I’m happy to say that I have had a few “dream” clients, but also a good deal of the rest, especially the under-valuer.

    I have a few hosted clients with little or no understanding of websites. They are reluctant to learn, always claiming not to understand computers, and don’t want to listen to advice. One client actually wrote to me in an email that she is just too old (she’s 60 – my grandfather learned to use the internet in his 90s, so maybe I’m biased) to understand the internet, and it’s not fair that I use words she can’t understand (“hyperlink” and “search engine”) when emailing her about her website. She also thinks that all work we do for her should be free, since she’s a non-profit.

    For me, this is the worst sort of client to work for, because the person undervalues what I do for a living AND refuses to give up control, but plays the ignorance card, so there’s a hint of passive aggressive behavior mixed in. The result is a horribly outdated website that I don’t even like to admit I’ve worked on.

    But that sort of client really makes me appreciate the good ones, who value opinions and experience, and allow me to do my best work. :-)

  133. 134

    Reminds me some of the past client I worked……hahahaahaaa thanks

  134. 135

    A lot of great additions to the client types in this article. The one I didn’t see is the “not-for-profit.” These people have little or no money, but want something that will pump in donations like a well-spring of living water. They are usually extremely grateful and extremely needy all in the same sentence.

    I have done some freebie work for non-profits from time to time with one stipulation: don’t tell anyone who did your site. Otherwise, the organizations wanting free work will multiply at your doorstep like tribbles on the Enterprise.

    If you really care about an organization or your church, do some work for them quietly, without credit. If it’s a website, always build in the ability for the organization to self-manage so you can build it and step aside. You’ll have treasure in Heaven and time to work for paying clients.

  135. 136


    October 23, 2009 1:27 pm

    We’ve seen our share of most of the clients listed above.
    We take the good with the not so good, and do it all with a smile.


  136. 137

    Great article! I’m a carpenter and have had everyone of these clients in my 30 years of work.-including the ‘poke in the eye’ client! Passed article to my wife who recognizes several of her managers.

  137. 138

    Jeff said…

    Jeff-the writer is telling you tongue-in-cheek- if you want to save yourself stress-not to do work for friends . If you really want to keep a relationship-help them move or buy them a drink. ‘Friends’ still fall under the other types and I rarely have done work for a ‘dream friend’.

  138. 139

    Isn’t that real valuable guidance…Looking forward to more such educating articles …Thanks !

  139. 140

    This is a great post. I’ve worked with all kinds and this sums it up nicely.

  140. 141

    Not buying it

    October 29, 2009 8:07 pm

    Sorry to be the skunk at the picnic here.

    Sure clients are a pain. They are also the reason you exist. If you want someone to just give you money and receive what you so generously decde to bestow upon them, go into fine art.

    Design is all about making things useful, and that means collaborating with people who know their business and their customers better than you do.

    The arrogance implied by this article doesn’t do much to overcome the haughty know-it-all stereotype that defines too many hacks.

    • 142

      Great article! I think we’ve all run across a gamut of client types, and learning how to work effectively with them is key – identifying their strengths/weaknesses early on in the process is a wonderful way to construct a good working relationship that produces well designed and results-driven work.

    • 143

      The article is not arrogant. There is obviously a limit to what is reasonable. Example: For one project, because my price was fixed, I calculated that I was making well under $10 per hour for a certain project because the client would not stop demanding constant changes to the site. This takes time.

      You said it yourself. “Design is all about making things useful, and that means collaborating with people who know their business and their customers better than you do.”

      But there is a HUGE different between “collaboration” and making unreasonable demands. You are confusing the two. Some clients want to control details right down to the pixel, and I don’t exist to make these specific changes all day – that is not design anymore – that is just him designing, me at the computer. I exist to turn business requirements into a design. If the client knows all about the discipline of design and wants to control every single bit himself, then why is my job title “designer”? My job title should be “slave at the computer”.

      The client should communicate the business requirements, and the designer should interpret those requirements and do the design. That is the reason why designers exist.

  141. 144

    This is by far one of the greatest posts I’ve read in a really long time. For many reasons you probably already now and won’t bore you with. Thanks man!

  142. 145

    Hey Robert – As someone who has been in the training industry for years and in the people business all my life – I totally enjoyed your article and found much if not all of your insight to be right on target! Great Stuff! Jim A.

  143. 146

    Thanks for the great article! :-)

    I think I have a possible stereotype for you:

    The Underminer

    He’s probably a very weird case of a I-Can-Do-It-Myself-er.
    Maybe you know him from before this project. He’s usually a part of the client’s company or organization but has nothing related to the project you’re working on, he’s probably not even someone from the people who have a say in it. He’s the type that probably has competence in art, maybe even graphic design. He most likely sees a very flattering image of himself when it comes to his professionalism. He would likely try and get in touch with you about his idea about the site’s design. If you reject him he will probably start saying negative things about you or your design, behind your back and in front of the others from the company/organization. He might even try and convince the people responsible for the project to give his own design to you for the site (and effectively reduce you to just a technician). He usually thrives when the boss’s hand is not firm enough.

    Some characteristics:
    Says things like: “Hey, we should get in touch to fix up the site’s design”, “But I’m one of the best in the country”, “This is a [insert the organization type here] site, after all!”, “The site needs to have more style (than what you’ve made so far)”
    Probably won’t start doing “his version” of the design until he realizes his time to do it is running out, unless he had it ready all along.
    Very insisting.
    Probably doesn’t have the best reputation in the company/organization.

    How I dealt with him:
    Be patient. Keep passive for as long as you can. Always double-check what he’s telling you about what other people said to him. If it starts getting out of control, talk with the boss, quote what he told you, and request to know their position on this. In case you lose over him, you probably wouldn’t want to keep working on such a task anyway. Ah, and you might also want to block all online channels of communication with him.

    This is actually a current site design+maintenance job of mine, I’m talking about.

  144. 147

    I’ve found several dream clients. In order to do so, I ditched a few others. Boy, was it worth it! Loving my work again.

  145. 148

    I just love this post, i’ve red it maby a hundred times !!! I’m less of a freelancer, more owner of a design company now, at the begginig of my bussiness I was designing and creating everything, now I usualy just manage the projects. We mostly do Web stuff and 3D Design. I have some expirience of mine:

    1. I found that the Web clients are much worse than the other. Usualy they think, that they realy have the taste in design, couse “what’s the deal with drawing a line here and there…”. It differ much from the “3D world” where the “3D” still is a magical word, and customers can’t realy tell what and how to change, couse they just don’t know.

    2. I run my studio at a middle size city, which is big enough for a “world class” design, but to small for a “world class” prices, so we’re stuck somewhere inbetween – the client demmands a class which he can’t afford.

    3. It’s a good thing to do a little “investigation” on who You’ll be working for – just type the company name in Google, this way You’ll be able to determine if the client can afford Your time, couse a good designer do a great work, that’s why he isn’t cheap. When the potential client have a lousy design now, that means usualy that they can’t afford to have better.

    4. The higher the price the better the client cares about the project !

    Thank You for this great post, have a lot of dream clients folks !

  146. 149

    Good & usable post i like it

  147. 150


    March 3, 2010 6:50 am

    Greetings from the Dominican Republic, Just today I was looking for information on dealing with clients to calm myself down a bit, I will be dealing with people this weekend during an event im participating in. All this information was really useful to refresh things in my head and im looking forward to put it in practice. Gracias !

  148. 151

    Anything Graphic

    April 22, 2010 4:25 pm

    This is such a great article on SO many different levels….

  149. 152

    I am lucky enough to get good clients who aren’t too picky and they are not cheapskates. At least I get someone who appreciates what I do and pays me well enough for my work.

  150. 153

    smArtist DesigNerd

    September 28, 2010 10:28 am

    If you are having trouble with receiving payment for already completed work, just shut off their site until they pay. Or deny updates to their site until payment is met. Works every time!

    Of course my contract includes a clause for this very situation, excessively late or failure to make payments as designated in the contract results in potential “down-time” for the client… which is almost ALWAYS unacceptable to them or their superiors. This can also become true if they are slack on payments BECAUSE of excessive changes, bad communication, or lack of deliverables to you. You will ALWAYS have the higher ground, morally and legally, and this will give you the confidence in your process to hold them accountable and not become a whipping boy.

    Great in alleviating almost all kinds of clients listed above, including family :)

    P.S. I am all for “in-person” communication, as people are usually busy and that way they will actually “REMEMBER” talking to you, however, ALWAYS get a confirmation of the conversation/decision in writing/txt-message/IM/email/voice-mail, etc. and then also confirm whatever the communication is a second time, or you’ll be sorry.

  151. 154

    I can deal with the others OK, but the control freak and the nit-picker types are by far the worst imho … I’ve had really, really bad experiences with these types.

    If the client wants to control every detail down the the HEX value of a color and the exact sizes of images, etc, then why did they hire a designer at all? They obviously believe they know better than me. If they hired me for the technical expertise i.e. markup and programming, then why didn’t they create the design first then hand it to me to code?

    Even worse is when they say a mockup is OK, go ahead and code it. Then later they say something doesn’t look exactly the way they want. Then I have to spend days re-coding the HTML/CSS and buy new images to use because they didn’t like those stock photos either.

    These types of client are a massive time sink. I figure that I’d have to give them 10 times the attention of other clients and almost constant contact through phone and e-mail, but get the same or less pay. Looking through my inbox 80% of all e-mails are from a single control-freak/nit-picker client, and the rest 20% are normal clients. I also get phone calls at any time of the day requesting changes to several parts of the design … and this is HTML/CSS, not the mockup stage…

    It is a nightmare. Avoid if possible – but you don’t know until you’re in the job.

  152. 155

    this is a useful presentation i think it will help me with my research on types of clients. thumbs up!!!

  153. 156

    Great post. I’ve been freelancing for just over a year now and have dealt with both dream clients and awkward ones. I can’t complain though as it’s all good learning. My advice is don’t rush into a job -make sure you have a clear brief, that is signed by both parties (to stop the goalposts moving), a solid contract (where the client agrees to respond in a timely manner), and various sign off stages (to stop clients suddenly change their mind 3/4 through a project. I’ve learnt the hard way but *touch wood* the design process is getting smoother.

  154. 157

    Most of my clients have been great, but I’m dealing with one that is driving me nuts right now. They tend to go back and forth between kissing my butt about how good I am, and complaining about something or other (usually claiming they asked for something different than what I gave them, even though I have the details in writing). They also love to arrange to meet in person and then cancel at the last minute, or conveniently forget. Their website is down now (the funny thing is I have nothing to do with it).

  155. 158

    Very helpful. Customers really come in all different shapes and sizes; some of them are mean, some are funny, some are serious. But ultimately, these are the people who would assist us in growing our business, that’s why it’s important that we treat them well no matter what.

  156. 159

    Wouldn’t you have a masochistic reason for taking on the nitpicker, rather than a sadistic one?


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