Archive for category Cheapskates

Graphic Designer vs Difficult Client

I don’t have much of a budget…



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Client Types: The Bully

I recently was referred by a previous client for some work elsewhere. The referring client was easy to work with, sang my praises and listened to my advice, so naturally I welcomed a referral. She sent my information on and the referral contacted me within ten minutes.

The new client suggested a Skype chat. I obliged and we were chatting within 30 minutes of first contact. And this is where it should have ended.

The first red flag came when she referred to our discussion about her project as an “interview”.

Let’s be clear: I am a consultant and practitioner. I was referred to this client as a peer who could assist, not as a subcontractor. I had already submitted a website full of samples, plus additional requested samples were emailed and reviewed.  This project was posed to me as a kind of favor for this client. But I went with this ‘interview’, assuming it was standard process or the like. We discussed fairly high level work, so I agreed to check it out and signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Then I received a Work Order. For 10 hours of work. On a project that, if done correctly, would take 40 – 60 hours in the real world. This is Skype the conversation that followed:

Me: This  work order is for one 15 minute module out of 6 that will be in a particular lesson, correct?

Bully: NO it is one storyboard with six 15 minute lessons. The course has thirty 15 minute modules total.  You are doing one piece of it with 3 other designers.

Me: So ten hours to develop 90 minutes of material? [Editor’s Note: 90 mins of storyboarding, even for a very simple training course, has a mean of 60 design hours]

Bully: Correct.
Me: …That seems rather short. Do you have any of these storyboards developed for this project? I

Bully: Each lesson is 10-15 minutes. Not sure where the confusion lies. You would be responsible for 6 of these mini lessons

[Oh now they are MINI LESSONS??]

Me: There is no confusion, I am trying to get a sense of how much research and rework of the material would be required, or if it a matter of using the existing information.  If there needs to be objective development and decision making style scenarios created, I don’t think I make a quality lesson in 1hr 40 per module.

Bully:There is no research. You copy/paste from the documents specified in the document for that lesson. So thanks again. great to work with another ID veteran. This is my 19th year.

[The fact she had to point out this is her 19th year should have told me – stay away!]

Later, after realizing she had not even looked at the very lengthy and detailed information that was in NO WAY ready for “copying and pasting” into a storyboard, I backed out:

Me: I’ve spent 3.5 hours on module 6 and I’m only halfway through. I can see that I will not be able to create 6 lessons in 10 hours.

Bully: [Seeing I had her switcharoo figured out and was about to back out of the whole thing, softens up] Sometimes it takes a while to get familiar with the content and template. Are you having trouble breaking the content down to make it short and sweet for the module?

Me: I’m not having trouble, I can absolutely create these, but the writing and interaction creation and image finding is too involved for the amount of content.

Bully: You should just be able to locate the topic from the outline and pull the information on that topic from the document. you only need a 1-2 sentence overall description.  would you like to schedule a call?

Me: No, we don’t need to have another call. I’ve spent too much time on this already and I see that perhaps you haven’t acquainted yourself with the material. I suggest you look over the very first lesson and reconsider your time frame.

Bully: Oh that is just f***ing great! You are just going to leave me hanging? And here I thought you were  a professional!

I didn’t answer her.  Bullet dodged.


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Odesk Account Deleted!

I’ve had it with Odesk. I deleted my account.

As a user looking for freelancers, it was an OK site for me. Yeah, I got some crappy freelancers who didn’t deliver and wasted my time. But I found some good ones too. In the end though, it was the shitty end of the stick that freelancers get that had me first hiding my profile from any new client solicitation and then deleting the whole thing altogether.

I had my profile hidden for about a year. I kept it because I had two or three great reviews from clients. But before that, I had taken  took on some work that was woefully underpaid and ended up being micromanaged. I completed 2/3 of the project, hating every minute of it, until the project got put on hold. I took on other projects until 4 or 5 months later, the neck breather client contacts me and wants me to begin work again immediately and in earnest. I declined and said please pass this onto someone else, I have taken other work. The truth was, it was so underpaid I had no interest in doing a good job and didn’t care to be paid anymore as long as the thing would just go away. My fault – I never should have agreed to such a project. But then the client (who was a former school teacher and treated freelancers like 9 year olds) sent a long, emotional email threatening me –though I can’t recall what the threat was anymore. She later asked for money BACK which I just gave without saying much because at this point I just wanted her to go away. It was such a small amount I didn’t care anyway. I hid my profile and didn’t look at it for 6-7 months.

I checked it last week and teacher-lady left a long , self absorbed review of my work. No one could see it so who cares, but the worst was – I couldn’t leave any feedback for her! I was ready to leave it at even – I wasted days and days worth of menial work essentially with no pay and she didn’t get a completed project. Fair enough, call it even. But then she left a negative review so I was ready to retaliate, but no feedback links for freelancers! Freelancers must leave feedback first and I declined. So bye-bye Odesk!

I still use Elance, though they have recently joined forces with Odesk. Let’s see if they go downhill too.


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Client Types: The Micromanager

Last winter, I took on a project against my better judgement. It had TWO of the five red flag warnings–one is always enough–and yet, out of desperation, even after the initial “skills test” took over three days to finally complete, I agreed to the project and have been sorry ever since.

If the skills test bullshit wasn’t indication enough that the whole thing was going to be a nightmare, her line “other freelancers are charging about half that” should have tipped me off.  But for some reason I ignored it. Then I found out that this project was to be her  first experience project managing anything, so I was to be her guinea pig. Oh was I ever.

I had completed 3/4 of the project but realized too late that the client was not the sort I preferred to do business with. It was a project I had taken in desperation and the fixed rate was far too low to make it a priority over other (paying) work, but I had convinced myself that it would be a good idea to take on this project for reasons of creating new portfolio samples.

But micro management and 9th and 10th draft versions where the client wanted fonts changed and tables resized on a wireframe the end client would never see had quashed any degree of challenge that the project could present – I was dead inside. So I informed the client I would not be continuing the work.

I received an emotional rant that demanded I return half of the deposit back for not completing the project. Long story short, the payment was so low and the client so  fucking crazy I eventually conceded.

I considered some passive aggressive revenge for about a week, then absorbed it as a lesson learned. Though thoughts of revenge still cross my mind now and then.



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The Vendor Client relationship – in real world situations

Oh clients…just stop it.


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Red Flags

Folks, listen. I’m giving you a list of phrases that if you hear during your negotiations with a potential client are giant red flags trying to tell you something.

That something is NO.  Do not waste your time with this client, you will be so sorry that you did. No amount of desperation is worth the bullshit you will have to endure. The amount of time this asshole will waste will ultimately cost you money and anyway they might not even pay your or if they do, they will ask for their money back 6 months later for ridiculous reasons that have nothing to do with you.

The following phrases universally signify that these clients will be the shittiest clients you’ll ever have the pleasure of working for 100% of the time.

1. This is an easy job.

Oh really, motherfucker? If it is such an easy job then why don’t you do it yourself? Why are there 189 files of unsorted support material that need to be sifted through to identify relevant information, images, etc?  How does 29 pages of a transcribed lecture fit into 10 minutes of material?  Have you even looked at any of this stuff?

2. It should only take an experienced freelancer XXX amount of time.

An experienced freelancer….meaning someone experienced in producing shitty work? Or do you mean someone so experienced self loathing and desperation that will work for 40 hours even though you are only paying them for 10?

3. Other freelancers we are used to using only charge half that.

That’s great, you should hire them!  Oh wait, I’m redoing this project because you didn’t like how it came out the first time? I see…

4. Those terms are higher than we have a budget for, but we can promise you 4 months (or 6, or 10) of following on work, so we can give you lots of hours!

You know what, my goal is actually not to work more hours for fewer dollars than what I am worth.

5. You’ll have to take on a test project for free first.

You’ve seen my portfolio, you know what I can do. I think I would rather be paid than complete half of your project for free.

You’ve been warned, kittens. Just remember, you have the right and even obligation to lose the losers. You have my permission.


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