As a freelance web designer, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients. And it’s likely that some of them will want to enter into different types of working arrangements.
One common example is billing. You may run into a client that prefers to pay a flat monthly fee rather than be charged hourly. Some might even aim for a yearly invoice.
But it can go well beyond a unique invoicing schedule. Client preferences can be all over the map. They may include how you communicate, when you work, and how quickly things get done. Anything and everything are on the table.
This calls for a certain level of flexibility on your part. The willingness to work with a client on such issues can be beneficial to your relationship. But the opposite can also be true.
With certain clients, your flexibility may be something that is taken advantage of. Instead of working in tandem, it signifies a one-sided situation that ends up costing you both money and peace of mind.
Today, we’ll offer up some examples of freelance situations you’ll want to fix sooner rather than later.
Relentless Client Communication
Communication is one of the most important pieces to achieving your project goals. All stakeholders need to be on the same page. Otherwise, the final product suffers.
That being said, there are clients who feel a need to constantly be in touch – even about the smallest details. We’ve all dealt with that one person who seems to call every few minutes with another question or observation.
Yes, this is a client’s prerogative. But it can serve as a major obstacle in your ability to get things done. And who does that benefit?
It’s easier to deal with (and maybe even understand) when you’re working on a large budget project. But when it comes from a client who doesn’t generate much revenue, this behavior can become a nightmare. They may have a right to good service, but they can’t demand your constant attention.
This situation requires some tactful intervention on your part. Try and steer your client towards one agreed-upon point of communication. That could be a daily rundown of progress or a weekly video conference. Taking the randomness out of the equation can lead to more productivity all the way around.
Chronically Late Payments
Sure, a client may ask you to bend over backwards to accommodate their invoicing needs. Fair enough. But some go mysteriously silent when it’s time to pay up.
There could be some legitimate reasons for this. In some cases, it may be a simple mismatch of when you send invoices versus when their accounting department processes them. Some organizations also have more hoops to jump through when dealing with payments.
But there are indeed some who routinely place your invoices on the back burner. This is where frustration really sets in. You work hard to ensure that a client gets what they need, yet they aren’t treating you with that same level of attention. It’s easy to feel disrespected.
The solution can vary based on your particular situation. If the client typically generates a lot of revenue, it’s worth bringing the issue to their attention. From there, you might work out an arrangement in which they prepay you for services. Purchasing a block of hours, for example, can be a good compromise.
On the other hand, you may find that some clients are simply more trouble than they’re worth. If they don’t add much to your bottom line and getting them to pay is difficult, it could be time to fire them.
A Constantly-Changing Finish Line
Clients are always entitled to change their minds. There can be instances when their needs turn out to be different than they initially thought. This is often part of a project’s natural flow. Yet there are also those who are incapable of sticking with a decision.
Wishy-washy people are incredibly hard to deal with. They can lead in you several different directions – sometimes all within the same conversation. This mixed messaging will get a designer’s head spinning. Even if you’re taking notes, it’s hard to keep a coherent view of what your client is looking for.
It’s not only a pain for you, but it’s also a big obstacle for your project. When there is no clear direction, how can you possibly achieve a successful outcome?
Reigning in a scatterbrained client may be the most difficult thing on this list. After all, you can’t expect to change someone’s personality. But you might be able to help them narrow their focus.
One possible reason for a sudden change in direction is that a client may be thinking too broadly. For instance, looking at the entirety of a project, rather than taking each step as it comes.
Web designers are often called upon to show some leadership – and this is one of those scenarios. Try to initiate discussions that focus on a single aspect of the project and get some concrete feedback. The hope is that, by breaking things down into little pieces, the process will become more predictable.
Bad Situations Won’t Fix Themselves
Whatever your situation, it’s important to remember that problems don’t go away on their own. It often requires some intervention on your part to start the resolution process.
It’s also worth mentioning that the overwhelming majority of clients mean you no harm. Problematic behavior is often the result of inattentiveness – not malice. Therefore, calling attention to an issue may be all it takes for positive change to occur.
Still, it’s on us to recognize the situation and make the first move. Even if it ends up in a parting of ways, at least you can move forward knowing you did your best.