Being Rude With A Client

Written by Max
, tagged as #freelance

We'll talk about clients in servicing business. And most of the examples and points of view will be from the design perspective.

Don't Start By Planning For The Worst.

When you expect such people to act awfully, then most of your clients will respond to your expectations. It works like a magnet. Negative thoughts attract negative people.

Scan For The Red Flags

Not expecting bad clients doesn't mean that you don't need to be prepared. You just need to know red flags. Write it down and remember the most important of them. Use it during a conversation with a new client.

Hire A New Client Slow And Fire Quickly.

It's your responsibility to the people with whom you are spending most of the time. The environment that you build affects your life, health, relationships, professional success... It affects almost everything in our life. Life is too short to live negatively.

Figure Out What Is Your Mission

Once upon a time, I decided that I'm not just a designer; I'm a problem-solver. But this statement has an issue. I started to focus on my clients' problems, then problems in my everyday life, and I got depressed.

The problem is that I started to focus more on problems than solutions and positive results in the end. I noticed that and started thinking about what I was doing wrong. And I found the solution.

My statement wasn't correct at all. It served a different purpose and followed an outcome that I wasn't expecting.

I changed my mission and decided that I want to make people happy. I want to produce valuable things that create a positive result for my clients. And you know what? I solve problems with the design but on a different level. Meaning I focus more on positive outcomes.

I feel better that way, and it's a simple and clear purpose for me.

Myth That A Client Who Pays More Money Is Better Than The Poor One

When I raised my rate, I expected to have more competent clients who see the value of design solutions. What was happening is not what I expected.

I stumbled upon the same problem with clients who paid me twice as much and sometimes even worse, when I talk about problems, I mean client feedback that is hard to manage or poor competency in the niche where clients want to create something.

Some people don't even know what they want from their business. Sometimes they can just say that they don't like the design you present them without any additional comments.

Plan Big But Start Small

Do not expect to spend your whole life with a new client. Especially with whom you are talking the first time. Briefly discuss a scope of work and define the first steps. The smaller steps you define for the beginning, the better for both of you. Start building relationships with something small. During this time, you'll define if you can with each other on a bigger scope of work. Because usually, you can have a bunch of factors when you start working with a new client. What is his pace of giving you feedback? How does he pay you? How is management happening on his side? A lot of factors.

Do What You Love

Focus on things that you like to do. Do not do work that you don't like at all. Again, life is too short for this.

We all have situations where something that we don't like to do is a part of our design process, or your client can ask you to do additional small work for him. You can minimize the time that you are spending on this work that you don't like. Try not to pay a lot of attention to this.

You can combine it with something that you like to do daily. For instance, you can do this unpleasant work and listen to a podcast, audiobook, or a favorite playlist. But if it's a complete no-go for you, then do next...


I'm not a good adviser at this point. I've had good and bad experiences. However, I think that we should learn to delegate at least a part of our work. Because it frees up more time for the work that we love and helps us focus on what is more important for us. In the meantime, you can delegate work that you don't like to a person who likes to do it and happily accepts it. So as a result, both of you will be happier.

Do Not Take On Board Small Projects

"It's just a simple task!"

"It will take you just 15 min of your time."

and so on... Familiar with this?

Some clients using this technique to cut their expenses and devalue your services as a result.

It's a big red flag — usually, small projects like this lead to many problems. You can spend a lot of time doing many design iterations that will not be in use. So, basically, it does not make sense to do this job at all. Not for a client, not for you. It doesn't make happy neither of you.

I've read a great metaphor in the book "Design Is A Job" by Mike Monteiro. It was about the loader's job. The experienced loaders say that small boxes bring big problems. And one has got a lesson when he tried to pick up a small box and dropped it because of the heavyweight he couldn't handle.

Value-Based Pricing

I've heard many good pieces of advice on this point. I've read a book about value-based pricing. Attended master-class on this topic. I tried to do it with my new clients. It worked partly for me, but not 100% and even not 50%. But still, I believe that this is the only right approach to provide services in any industry, including the design, of course.

Some European countries experiment with unconditional income for their citizens. And they explain it as giving people the opportunity to do what they like without worrying about the financial part of their life. I don't know if it's true and what the outcome is from it. But I believe that the financial part of our life displaces our focus from more important things.

With pricing by value, your client identifies your service, not as an expense but investment in their business. If your design services help to make money for your clients, then you definitely should try it.

I'll share with you more information on it in the future when I prepare a case study. But for now, you can find some more information about it on the Internet.

This was a list of things that should help you to not be rude to your clients. I hope it makes any sense for you, and you'll try it in practice because only reading will not bring you positive results. But actions will make you more skilled and professional.