Freelancers: 10 Things Clients Don’t Like Hearing

By . Filed in Web 2.0

With a quick search on Google, you will discover that the Internet is filled with the rage of freelancers against ‘evil clients‘. But hey! Everyone makes mistakes, and that includes freelancers. And there are also things that clients don’t like getting from freelancers in place of top-notch work.

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So today’s post is all about what clients don’t appreciate hearing from their freelancers. We’re hoping that this can help them figure out why some freelancers say these things to them, and figure out ways to improve communication between the two roles.

1. I Will Submit It To You Later

Like clients from hell who always try to delay payments, there are also freelancers from the abyss who always miss the deadline. Worse, they don’t even explain to you their reasons, they just tell you that they will submit the project later. And in some cases based on my experience, I don’t hear from them anymore even after sending them reminder emails.

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As the client, you should set a deadline for the freelancers and let them know that you are in a situation when on-time project completion really matters. You can even set mini deadlines for project milestones although these are just to get them on track to make it by the major deadline. In cases where the freelancers can do really well but are bad with time management, they will come asking for deadline extensions, don’t be too kind to extend the deadline especially when you are not in a place to allow for extensions. Sometimes freelancers ask if you are really tight with the deadline without specific reasons, because they are trying to see if they can bring in more work into the pipeline, even if the payout could be considered as fair.

2. Sorry for the Late Reply

Clients don’t like freelancers who disappear without a trace and only turn up to deliver on the deadline and to collect payment. If there has never been any communication exchange between the two parties, I doubt that the client will be satisfied with the work, despite the requirements given early in the project. Consistent communication is necessary to ensure that the project is going smoothly and if somewhere along the line someone misunderstands a term or a criteria, there is still time to correct the mistakes before the deadline.

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Hence, the freelancer should follow up with the client consistently every 2-3 days. Also be sure to ask for the client’s reviews in every follow-up reply. On the client’s side, take the initiative to call the freelancer up consistently and ask for the current project status. The follow-up call or email could be short and polite, such as “Hello, how’s the work progress so far?” Tell the freelancer that you appreciate the reply. The alternative way could be to ask for the freelancer’s instant messenger address, so you could contact him if you have anything urgent to say but please, don’t be an annoying orange! Give the freelancer some space to do his job.

3. I Will Have To Charge This And That

Woe be the client who meets freelancers who charge, heftily, for every little change, and this is not even a rare occurrence in the physical business world. You ask them for a quotation on the project, they list up their services and terms, makes you think it’s good and that the deal is done. Well, that’s only the start of your nightmare.

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Since most clients do not actually possess knowledge in coding or design, they can be easily cheated out of their money. Some freelancers charge 100 to 200 bucks for changing HTML strong tags to em tags — that’s speak for switching fonts in bold to italic. Want to change the background color from dark red to light red? 50 bucks. Remove the Lorem Ipsum? 30 bucks. Holy macaroni! There are even freelancers who ask for a reputation fee. Being a freelancer myself at the time, I went around to consult with other seasoned freelancers and found that there are people who don’t charge for every little thing. I suggest that you do the same before you make a deal with these charge-friendly freelancers. At the start of every project, get an idea of how they charge for minor changes, no charge, revision charges or hourly billing. Don’t close the door on being able to make last-minute changes which could make or break the project, but make it worth your freelancer’s time nonetheless.

4. I’ve given you a Discount

“It’s 10,000 bucks but we will give you a discount!” That’s overcharging to the max and some freelancers do that then try to act like they are being generous by giving you a discount (of a measly figure) off the final sum. Well, if you think about it, by giving you the discount, they are subconsciously acknowledging that their services are pricey to begin with!

Clients usually ask for the price rate and payment schemes at the beginning at the project (if you don’t, you should) but this should not be restricted to just the main project itself. They should go into the details for additional services rendered after the completion of the full project or revision rates should the clients change their mind after reaching certain milestones. This way, the clients can still change their minds (if their budgets allow it) and the freelancers won’t get shortchanged.

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Of course, none of this would matter if once you have agreed to the terms and pricing, you draw up a contract. Many clients fear about the contract because it makes them feel like they are bound to certain responsibility, but the contract ensures that both sides will not be taken advantage off halfway or at the end of the project, and that they are obligated by the written word to fulfil their end of the bargain.

5. I Think Your Idea Sucks

It’s really a humiliating experience, to have designers say that your idea sucks. I kinda like the idea though, if you don’t mind me saying, since in most situation clients do not clearly understand about how design works, how color theory works, how user experience affects the product, etc., and for the sake of the project, that’s when the freelancers kick in and inform the clients that the ideas they are sitting on will not work.

There are many ways to tell them though, fellow freelancers, and this is not one of them, unless you want to start a fight with your paymaster. And as for the clients, sometimes it is good to take a step back and let the professionals do their job. That’s why you hired them in the first place, right? The last thing you want is for a designer to not be honest with you because they have an eye for design since that’s the way the earn their livelihood and unless you think you can do better, let them figure out what is best for the final results. But don’t let them walk all over you if you prefer blue over green. Discuss and communicate with them until you both work out a best solution for both sides.

6. Trust Me, I Know More Than You Do

Another entry in the you-don’t- want-to-say-this list, Trust me, I know more than you do is a thing freelancers think but should never say to their clients, if not to keep the job, at least to keep a good impression in the client’s mind. But the problem here is this, the freelancer may know more than the client does, but he may not give the client what the client wants. Now this is a problem both for the client for obvious reasons and for the freelancers for less-than-obvious reasons.

Clients are not going to pay for designs that they don’t like regardless of how much you know or how much they know, but in the long run, if you became known as the freelancer who doesn’t give clients what they want, no one is going to come around asking for your opinions or your services. Even though the design might be really great, the freelancer has to follow and fulfill his or her client’s needs.

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As the client, it doesn’t hurt to get a third person’s view in the matter, just to see if the designer really knows his stuff on what appeals to your target audience. If it doesn’t matter either way, and you prefer your choices, then reject his work politely and ask him to make the changes required. Sometimes just by letting him know that there is a reason why the background has to be a certain colour would suffice; other times just tell him it’s what you want and he will do it for you.

7. I’ve Changed This To Make It Better

There will be times when you think you have the perfect thing crafted and when it comes to the handover, you realized that the freelancer has made changes to the final result without letting you know! "I’ve changed this to make it better" – but everything was already perfect, you want to say. "I know but this is better," and then somebody gets a black eye.

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I’m kidding.

Clients love freelancers with enthusiasm, but that’s not the same as the freelancer who changes things without getting the green light first. It’s true that the freelancer is not hired to work like a machine that just assembles everything the client wants, but it’s also essential for the client to set core ideas or elements that should not be altered through the design process. Tell your freelancer what shouldn’t be changed without notice from the beginning. Be specific, for example, if the logo cannot be in any other colour than red (on a light background) or white (on a dark background), say it so.

If he still goes ahead with his sleight of hand, take a step back and look at the possibilities of the redesign, does it work better or worse? Often times, I ended up feeling the designer’s version has its own potential and appeal, and I was glad that he made the changes.

8. No problem, I Can Do It

I feel guilty while I am writing this point, because I’m the freelancer who told my client this! The drawback was I had no idea how to do it at the time of negotiations, and I’m sharing this becaues I don’t want you to be the one who gets burned. Sure, you might get lucky and ‘get’ how the theme or layout or coding works within the deadline but you don’t really want to risk it when it is obvious that clients can get pretty fickle-minded these days.

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To prevent this, always comfirm that the freelancer can do this with a sample of a previous similar work that has already been done before. That way even if you are not sure if he can deliver your goods, you know he has the foundation to build it already. Half of the problem has already been solved. As for freelancers, this is a reminder for you to always know what is the hottest thing clients want in the market right now and to always keep a look out for new trends, new tools, new designs and new needs!

9. This Is My Work Style

Once in a while you will bump into a freelancer who works differently from other freelancers. It’s understandable that freelancers have their own approach when it comes to developing or designing a product. But sometimes some procedures are necessary to ensure a smooth workflow and to minimize problems and mistakes later on during the project.

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It is ok for freelancers to not follow a client’s procedure e.g. I prefer to colour in the design rather than show you the sketches alone — because apparently, colours make all the difference even when sketches don’t follow the original idea, but if his idiosyncracies start delaying the processes, making him ask you for deadline extensions or he starts charging you for overtime, then you have reason to ask him to revert to your process. "Let’s finalize the sketch so you don’t have to waste your time colouring in a design you’re not sure I will be able to accept yet. This will save both our time and you don’t have to do double, triple or quadruple work." Sounds fair enough, and he should take it if knows what’s good for him.

In times like this, unless your company has a certain procedure to adhere to, you should let the person with more experience decide on the workflow, be it the client or the seasoned freelancer. Nobody likes delays, so deal with work process early on in the negotiation stages and don’t just take "this is my work style" as the final answer.

10. Ya wil c it then thanx

"realli? tats kool. kthxbai."

No, that’s not cool. Never go text speak with your clients. If you want your clients to take you seriously then act professionally. It’s the same as when there is a dress code in the company to follow, wearing Hawaiian boxers and flip-flops to the office is simply unprofessional. The same applies to the communication you have between you and your clients.

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Sure, you can do that from home but let it be within your comfot zone, not your client’s. Even when the clients start to relax and start writing casually to you, asking about your favorite sports team or your opinion on what’s hot in the social media indusry right now, always keep the communication formal and in complete sentences. You can let him know that you appreciate the relationship in many ways but say it in the right words (and spelling).

And for clients, here’s a reminder: if you become too close to your freelancers, it’s hard to tell them off if they fail to deliver the project according to your needs or on time. If you want them to respect you then you should also be professional with them in all forms of communication where possible.

Reflection

In summary this article is really about the communication process between freelancers and their clients and even if you don’t think they apply to you now, they may apply to you eventually somewhere down the line. It takes a lot of patience and the right attitude on both sides to ensure optimum results, which is what they both want in the first place. So take some time to reflect on the type of communication you adopt in your work and see if it is making the process better or worse. Have other things you think clients don’t like hearing from freelancers? Sound your opinions below and have fun freelancing (and dealing with freelancers).

Author:

Alvaris is a web designer, developer and staff writer for Hongkiat.com.

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