Spot difficult clients in seconds

To feel motivated and creative, you need clients who appreciate your work. But even the more promising clients turn into demons who drain your inspiration.
I’ll tell you how to recognize difficult clients at once and keep them at bay.

Family and friends

Beaumont Family, George Romney

Usually, they’re our first clients. But we shouldn’t work for them unless we already have a stable career. Since they have a long time and personal relationship with us, they won’t see us like professionals until we get a stable income from strangers.

In the meantime, they’ll ask us to borrow our time and skills without any compensation for our “hobby”.

This creates a dangerous vicious circle: if our family don’t think our efforts are worth a payment, we won’t be able to get paid by strangers and demostrate that our “hobby” is an actual job.

No budget: work for free or underpriced

Run away! Without enough money, no proposal is worth enough. Seriously. Even a single hour deal is one hour of your lifetime you’ll never get back. There’s no visibility or prize that can compete such a waste.

Don’t gift your precious lifetime to people who’ll monetize it for themselves. Use it to improve your life: practice sport, stay with friends and family, study and practice to improve, recover some sleep, etc.

When you’re tempted to accept such proposals to scrape together a few money or vague visibility, write down a list of all useful and productive that you can do instead. If there’s just one that you feel bad setting aside, dedicate your time to it without regrets.

I don’t know, I leave it up to you

Finally, a client who gives us freddom to shine! Unfortunately, this is most probably a confused client who will ask for thousand of editings and will never be satisfied with the result
This kind of client is usually confused about everything, has an unstable pace and gets small results. You can notice this easily making him chat about his business or personal interests.

Be very careful not to misunderstand these clients with those who give you creative freedom, while having a clear vision of their business, what to expect from you and how to use the stuff you’ll deliver to them.

I’ll pay later

He won’t, for sure.

Besides, do you really want to chase him for months after the deadline, instead of focusing on the next projects?

Even if you accept to work for him, he won’t respect you and never be happy until he squeezes you like a lemon, disappear and throw excuses to procrastinate the payment until you’ll give up chasing him.

Who refuses to pay the advance to a creative is not a “client”. He’s a profiteer seeking for a sucker. You don’t want to be that sucker.

 

I had bad experiences with other artists

Did anyone say this to you, just before demanding free sketches or test-work or asking for late payment? The truth is that we creatives had our own bad experiences, too.

A good deal for a creative job requires trust on both sides.

If the client is suspicious, he already got a wrong opinion about artists. It’s almost impossible to change his mind, because we’re not takling to an uninformed but confident client.

We’re talking with a person who perceives our reassuring words under a bad light. So I suggest that you refuse this kind of client, unless you’re a veteran who knows how to deal with him.

After some time, he may come backt o you: don’t be fooled. He didn’t change his mind, he just didn’t find anyone else to trust enough for the project. The problem is in his head, not in the artists he approaches.

No contract, please

Always send an estimate anyway, The client may avoid signing and just pay the advance. But that payment implies he read the estimate and the attached terms of service. So he can’t act clueless in the future.

Rely on written communications and keep them safe long after the project is complete.

If the client refuses you sending him documentation, consider him like those not willing to pay in advance. When these two evidences are present together, run away as fast as you can!

I have a big deal for you

Pinocchio (Andrea Balestri) with the Cat and the Fox (Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia) in the movie “The Adventures of Pinocchio”.

Usually, this snetence precedes one of the other evidences. To enjoying this great visibility or lifechange opportunity, we must complete a free or test project first. In other words, one last sacrifice and we did it!

Do not believe it. Not for a second. It’s just another trick to convince a creative sucker in gifting his time and skills nearly for free. Then he’ll get dropped and the client will move to someone else to take advantage of.

You may be tempted to compete in strategy with such a client, to take advantage of him more than he does with you. This is a very high risk in the best scenario. So I advise you against this, unless you’re a veteran with steady nerves and an ace up your sleeve.


Now you know how to recognize dfficult clients and keep them at bay since first contact. Have a good selection!

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Francesca Urbinati Artist

Francesca Urbinati

Sono illustratrice e fumettista freelance. Ho lavorato su effetti speciali 3D, graphic design e multimedia per RAI, Mediaset, Adobe, ArtOrder LLC, Studio Hamburg, MoveTheGame e molti altri. Pubblico la serie a fumetti Niki Batsprite e aiuto altri artisti e autori a emergere.
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