3 Common Issues with Design Clients and How to Overcome Them

| 5 min read

Freelance design work is always challenging and exciting but sadly, it can become an onerous task if your clients aren’t working with you. Freelancing, at its best, is a partnership between the freelancer and the customer and if it stops feeling that way… projects can grind to a halt and pay days can drift ever further away.

Help! My Client Doesn’t Answer My E-mails

Author/Copyright holder: Kelly Schott. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

This happens a lot. In some cases it’s not the end of the world; it just means that the client is busy with something else and will eventually come back to you. There are two things you can do to help in this situation:

  1. Address the matter contractually. If you need feedback within x days on a milestone – then specify this and specify that without an agreed deviation from this time limit that the work will be automatically considered to be accepted when the deadline expires and you will move on to the next phase of the project.
  2. Send a professional follow up e-mail. “Hi, I hope all is well. I just wanted to remind you that the feedback on XYZ is due in 2 days’ time as I haven’t heard from you.” But don’t turn this into an exercise in badgering the client either – one follow up is fine, one an hour for 3 days is harassment. If you have the clause above in your contracts; there is no need to hassle your clients.

Help! My Client Wants More Work Than I Agreed To Deliver for No Extra Pay!

Author/Copyright holder: Julian Partridge. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

This is why you need a contract. You should outline in your contract:

  • The deliverables and the price per deliverable. The deadline dates, etc.
  • Any additional support you offer on a deliverable (revision cycles, etc.)
  • That any divergence from the agreed upon scope will only happen if agreed in writing between the two parties and that any changes may be charged at your hourly rate (include it in the contract).

Then if the client tries to push you around; you can simply refer them to the contract you have. It’s not acceptable to bully someone into working for nothing. The contract ensures that you can defend your position professionally.

Help! My Client Won’t Leave Me Alone – I Feel Like a Micro-Managed Employee

Again, you should define response times and your availability in your contract. I offer 24 business hour response times for e-mails and 9-5 contact hours (with a minimum of 1 day’s notice) as a standard for my clients. If they want something more than that – they can have it at a premium. As there’s only me in my business – nobody gets 24/7 service agreements – I couldn’t deliver on it.

Author/Copyright holder: hpnvsn. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you have these things defined in the contract and a client becomes pushy; you can gently refer them to the support agreement that they agreed to before the contract. And you can offer an increased service level in exchange for an increased fee. That way they either stop being so interfering or they pay you handsomely for the privilege.

Header Image: Author/Copyright holder: David Mulder. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

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