How to Deal with Difficult Clients


“I had one client who wouldn’t pay me … for over a year!”

“I had one who yelled at me like I was her teenage daughter … for half an hour!”

“I had one who wanted me to do five logo designs … on spec!”

We’ve all heard the horror stories. And many of us, unfortunately, have experienced them firsthand ourselves.

Clients can sure be difficult sometimes. It’s just a fact of life. And the nature of the business.

Some will act professionally while others will not. Some will conduct business ethically; some will not. And some will have you screaming at your computer screen while others will make you want to pull your hair out.

Scared yet? Don’t be. Ready to run for the hills? It’s not necessary. Because as long as you’re prepared upfront with how to deal with situations like these, you’ll end up in the driver’s seat and way ahead of those who aren’t.

One of the biggest complaints we hear from our fellow freelancers revolves around payment issues. (So, we’ll discuss that here.) Whether due to cash flow, trafficking, or unethical reasons, some clients seem to think they have the upper hand when it comes to paying their vendors.

But if you take precautionary measures – such as discussing payment terms upfront, getting everything in writing, and knowing your legal rights – you’ll be better off down the road. (Curious about standard payment terms, what to put in a contract, and what your legal rights are? Stay tuned! We’ll be addressing those in the near future.)

Communication is essential. Be sure to discuss everything – and we do mean everything – upfront. From expectations and deadlines to payment terms and work styles, the more you can hash out upfront, the more you’ll be prepared if something should go awry.

Maintaining professionalism is also key. Even when clients are yelling at you ‘til they’re blue in the face, if you can remove all the negative/defensive emotion on your end, keep your cool and your correspondence factual, you’ll have the upper hand.

Education can also help. Letting your clients (or prospects) know what industry standards are for the advertising/marketing freelance industry can get you far. It can help you avoid snafus down the road. It can also highlight a red flag (such as a client refusing to make a deposit) and give you the opportunity to walk away before things get too troublesome.

Want more? Come listen to three experienced freelance pros who have had their share of horror stories. Find out what they learned through the process and how they handled each scenario with style and grace.

Can’t make it or live out of town? Not to worry … we’re recording all of our classes! Once our full website is live, you’ll be able to purchase access to all that you missed. Freelancers U has only just began. There is way more awesomeness to come!



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