You’ve finally landed that new client you’ve been chasing for months. They’re excited to work with you, and you’re feeling excited to have the project and the income, but you're feeling a bit of trepidation. Or maybe you’re currently in a situation where you’re struggling to get along with a difficult client; this blog post is for you.
I'll share some of the most common problems faced by freelancers and service providers when working with clients and offer some practical tips on how to deal with them.
Red Flags Ignored Before Signing With the Client
There are a few key red flags that you should never ignore when signing with a client, no matter how much you want the work.
1. The client is vague about what they want from the project. If the client can't give you a clear idea of what they want from the project, it's likely that they're not really sure themselves. This can lead to scope creep and other problems down the line. 2. The client has unrealistic expectations. This is often related to point #1. If the client doesn't understand what's involved in the project, they may have unrealistic expectations about what you can deliver and how quickly you can do it. 3. The contract is full of legal jargon that you don't understand. If you don't understand the contract that you're signing, how can you be sure that you're agreeing to everything that you should be? Always have a lawyer look over any contract before you sign it. 4. The client refuses to sign a contract. A reputable client will have no problem signing a legally binding contract. If the client refuses, it's possible that they're trying to avoid responsibility for something or that they're not confident in their own ability to deliver on their promises. Either way, this is not someone you want to work with.
5. The client says they could do it themselves but don't have the time.
This is rarely ever true. The truth is, they are dismissing your value before you've even started. This type of person doesn't see what you do as being important. Avoid them!
6. You have a bad feeling when talking to them.
Intuition is rarely wrong. if you have a bad feeling while discussing things with them. Maybe it's nothing they've said, but it's just a feeling. It's better to err on the side of caution.
Now You're Stuck With This Client
If you're reading this, then it's likely that you're in a situation where you've signed a contract with a client who is proving to be more trouble than they're worth. Maybe they're constantly changing their mind, or maybe they're never happy with the work you deliver no matter how hard you try. It feels like you are spinning your wheels and getting no where fast other than having a whole lot stress eating away at you. Whatever the case may be, you're now stuck with this client until the end of the contract. Or worse, it was an open ended contract, and you don't want to be the party to end it.
So what can you do to make the best of a bad situation? First, take a deep breath and try to remain calm. It's going to be tough, but remember that you signed this contract for a reason, and there's no turning back now. Try your best to keep communication open with your client. If they're constantly changing their mind, yes, it can be annoying, but it is their business, so flip flopping is their prerogative. You can see if there's a way to get them to give you more specific directions from the start. If they're never happy with your work, see if there's anything you can do to tweak your process or approach. Be prepared to hear condescension and severe criticism. Remember, it's business, not personal, no matter how much they may make it seem personal.
If they've ghosted you remember the no pay up front no work policy. Stick to it. This is going to save you being burned doing work for free. I know I've been there. Thinking "Oh they are just a few days late I should keep up my end." To the realization that they simply have dropped off the map.
At the end of the day, just know that you're not alone in these nasty situations. Many other freelancers, entrepreneurs, and service providers have been in your shoes before and have come out on the other side. Albeit a little dinged up. Hang in there and stay strong!
How to Deal with a Nightmare Client
It's not the end of the world dealing with difficult individuals, and there are ways to deal with difficult clients. Here are a few tips: 1. Be professional. No matter how frustrating the situation may be, always remain professional. This means being polite, keeping your cool, and not stooping to their level. Remember, you're the bigger person here. 2. Set Boundaries It's important to set boundaries with clients from the start. Make sure they know what you're comfortable with and what you're not. This will help prevent any misunderstandings or conflicts down the road. 3. Keep lines of communication open.
Try to keep lines of communication open with your client. This way, you can air out any grievances and hopefully resolve them in a constructive manner. 4. Offer alternatives. If your client is being unreasonable about something, offer alternative solutions that could meet their needs without going overboard on your end. Sometimes meeting them halfway can be the best solution for everyone involved. 5. Walk away if necessary. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a situation is just too toxic to salvage. If that's the case, it may be necessary to walk. Read over your contract and see what options are open to you for ending it amicably. Be professional even if they don't reciprocate.
How to Avoid Another Client Like This
If you're in the process of negotiating a contract with a potential client or discussing a project with them. You can do yourself a huge favor by setting realistic and attainable relationship goals from the get-go. Know that these are the non-negotiables you aren't willing to bend on.
#1: For example, you've had a horrible client who messages you in the middle of the night, setting off your phone and waking you. They don't want to wait for an answer, even though you are in a different time zone. The solution is to make it clear next time when you will and will not be taking calls and answering calls.