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5 tips to avoid being called a 'client from hell'

The freelancing world is full of tales from clients from hell, ranging from those who don't pay or want everything incredibly cheap, to those who don't seem to have a clue what they want and are forever changing their mind. There's even a website dedicated to them.

The truth is that client from hell tales are often cases of misunderstanding, so here are five things you can do to not only avoid being pegged as an awful client, but also to ensure your project is completed successfully.



1) Be clear about what you want

Before you hire an editor, a writer, a designer or whatever else it is you think you want, make sure you know exactly what it is yourself. Many complaints from freelancers are about clients who decide they need something on a whim, but don't give much thought to it.

In short, just as you wouldn't order a five course meal when you feel like a sandwich, don't ask for a brand identity when you just want some name cards printing. Decide what you want in advance and save everybody lots of trouble.


2) Remember that freelancers don't work for themselves because they can't get jobs

There are many reasons people choose to become freelance professionals, so don't assume they're doing it because they can't get "real" jobs. Treat them with respect and your relationship will be much the better for it.

On a related note, don't presume that freelancers are all desperate for money. If you wouldn't like your own customers or clients suggesting you need to charge less or you "should be grateful to be getting paid at all", don't do the same to freelancers. You can get work done on the cheap, but you get what you pay for.


3) Avoid vague language

Telling a designer you want something with a "bit of magic" or a "bit of pizzazz" is about as helpful as telling somebody you want something "nice". Try to find examples of the image or feel you're looking for, explaining why you want it.

A professional will be able to give you advice based on your aims and tastes, but you need to communicate them clearly.


4) Respond promptly

Don't ignore emails and requests, then ask for something to be completely changed at the last minute. It's unprofessional and impolite.

Treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself.


5) Make sure you're choosing the right person for the job

You wouldn't ask an insurance salesman to have a look at your rash just because they happen to sell medical insurance, so don't ask a writer to design your website just because they're both "a bit creative".

Following on from points 1 and 2, define exactly what it is you want doing and then look around for the best person for the job. Look at their websites, ask to see examples of their work if necessary, and ask others for recommendations.

And a bonus tip:


6) Pay on time

Honour your agreements and pay up. You'd expect the same.

Anything to add?

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