I’ve been freelancing for a while now and I’ve learned a whole lot about my fellow humans, and myself, in the process.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful people and some not so wonderful. Dealing with a difficult client is something every consultant will experience and I’m still amazed by what some clients say to me. They believe that simply being a “paying client” entitles them to make ridiculous demands on my time.

Too many times, I’ve gone above and beyond, only to end up feeling used and unappreciated.  I’ve learned to stop telling myself, “I need the money.” or “This project will lead to more opportunities.” I’ve also learned to recognize and avoid those who only want to take advantage of my compassionate nature.

Are you a difficult client?  Maybe you don’t think you’re asking too much. Perhaps you’re not sure where the line should be drawn.  Boundaries can vary from one consultant to the next, but just to give you an idea, below are situations where I’ve learned to “Just Say No.”

  • I’m sorry…I won’t be able to build the 20-page e-commerce website you are dreaming of…for $500.
  • I’m sorry…I don’t offer net 30 payment terms. How about I wait 30 days to start your project? Would that make it easier for you?
  • No, I won’t be able to move your 10,000 emails to the new server. Yes, setting up your email accounts is part of my service, but migrating 6 gigabytes of old messages and personal photos is beyond the agreed upon scope of work.
  • Calling my cell phone at 11:15 pm to discuss your website is not acceptable. I’m hanging up now.
  • I gave you a website draft 6 weeks ago and you were fine with it. If you think I’m going to redo the whole thing now that your “advisors” have suggested a different look, here’s my suggestion: tell your “advisors” to cough up some more cash.
  • No, I will not duplicate the website you sent me. I mean, I can’t just steal someone else’s images, text, and exact layout. I know you said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery,” but have you no shame?
  • No, I will not build your new WordPress site on GoDaddy.  Period.
  • I’m sorry you feel “web designers are a dime a dozen.” Feel free to take your dime elsewhere.
  • You specifically asked for a “one-page parallax website for $400.” Why are you emailing me to say, “I’m not paying $400 for a one-page parallax website.”
  • Your budget is $200? Maybe you should ask your nephew. I’m sure he’d do it for $50. Better yet, use that $200 for a downpayment on a WordPress training class and you can learn how to build your own damn website. Good luck!

Business is Personal…Don’t Take It Personally

As a consultant, and as a human, you should never compromise your integrity or accept less than you deserve. A good client understands that a healthy business relationship is a two-way street. They won’t try to hold you hostage in an unprofessional and uncomfortable space with their demands.

On the other hand, if a client feels that I’m not meeting their needs and decides they’d be happier working with someone else, I wish them well and send them on their merry way. As long as I know I’ve held up my end of the bargain, I can close the door with no regrets.

Business is personal and we all have our limits.  But, if you’re a difficult client, don’t take it personally when I say, “No!”  You can either respect my perspective or scurry off to find a more willing subject.