by Carly Schuna
1. “We’ve chosen another candidate.”
Somebody else just snatched up a gig you really, really wanted. This is a bummer, especially if you love the subject matter and/or you needed work badly.
The Fix: Thank these clients for their consideration, and ask if they’re looking to fill any other positions. If they’re not, politely restate your interest and let the clients know that you’re available for future projects.
2. “This is all wrong.”
You just turned in your work, and the client hates it. Nightmare!
The Fix: Have a conversation with these clients to find out their concerns. If their comments seem reasonable, offer to revise. If what they say is ridiculous, you may still have to revise, but try explaining your point of view. It could cut you some slack.
3. “I’d like to have a conference call with you on the weekend/at midnight/during your sister’s wedding.”
These clients think that being a freelancer means you are happily available at any hour of the day.
The Fix: Politely explain that you’re unavailable during the requested time. List your normal working hours and ask to find a time that works for both of you.
4. “I have a ninety-seventh revision request.”
This client is never satisfied, and I mean never.
The Fix: If you don’t already have one, incorporate a revision clause into your contract that mandates the client pay you for rewrites. If you do have one and the client is seriously bothering you, consider raising your rates.
5. “Would you accept [amount grossly lower than what you quoted]?”
The client seems willing to hire you but unwilling to pay you more than sweatshop wages.
The Fix: If you feel there’s a strong possibility of a raise, you may want to accept the gig. If you really don’t think the client’s offer is fair, though, turn it down and lobby for your original quote.
6. (Said for the billionth time): “You should be getting your check any day now.”
Ah, the client who doesn’t pay. This one is a classic!
The Fix: Ask for the name and contact information of someone in the client’s payroll department so you can check up on it yourself. In the future, specify an acceptable pay period and penalty for late payments in your contract.
7. “I need this by tomorrow/tonight/5pm/three hours ago.”
Is this client serious? The deadline that’s being requested is insane.
The Fix: Politely tell the client when you can have the work done, and ask to work with your suggested deadline instead. If you can make the crazy deadline at some sacrifice to yourself (sleep/meals/sanity), propose a rush fee that will make the project worth your while.
8. “You call this writing/editing/blogging? My toddler/grandmother/poodle could do better than this with a broken pencil and a stone tablet!”
Rude clients… thankfully, we don’t come across them often, but they do exist, and it’s not a pretty day when they come out and show their faces.
The Fix: Kill with kindness. Apologize (even if you did nothing wrong) and offer to rewrite the work. As soon as the job is finished and you’ve been paid, get the heck out of Dodge—no one should have to work with a client like that.
9. “Unfortunately, we don’t need your services anymore.”
For some inexplicable reason, the client is showing you the door. Curse the fickleness of freelancing!
The Fix: The client has probably thought about this decision carefully, so it’s best not to protest. Instead, part ways as kindly as possible. Thank these clients for their business, and let them know that you’d be happy to work with them again anytime.
10. “This is great, but I have completely changed the terms of the contract.”
After you do the work you were assigned, the client pulls a 180 and expects you to come along.
The Fix: Kindly remind the client of the original terms and assignment. If you’ve done the work, you’ve fulfilled the contract. It’s fine to re-negotiate future terms with the client, but make sure they’re fair and you’re still being offered a good rate.