What Hoops Will You Jump Through for Your Clients?

We freelancers go to great lengths to keep our clients happy. After all, we want to be known for providing excellent customer service. So we usually do our best to meet client requests–even that means jumping through some hoops to keep the client satisfied.

However, some customer requests are just plain unreasonable. This post describes some “hoops” that aren’t worth jumping through–even to make a client happy.


Unreasonable Client Demands Before a Project

Often, unreasonable requests from clients begin before the project even starts. Sometimes, they begin before the client even officially hires the freelancer. Here are three examples:

  • Asking for free samples–While it’s not unreasonable to want to see an example of a client’s finished work, under most circumstances the freelancer’s portfolio should be sufficient. Unfortunately, a few troublesome clients want more. They’ll ask a freelancer to create a sample without offering to pay for the sample work. In nearly all cases, this winds up being a bad deal for the freelancer. If you think about it, a website owner who asks 100 applicants (not an unreasonable number in today’s economy) to each create a writing “sample article” without pay may receive dozens of articles at no cost.
  • Scheduling endless interviews–While requesting one interview, or even two interviews, is a reasonable client request–scheduling four or five interviews in an effort to find the best freelance candidate is not reasonable. For one thing, interviews take a freelancer’s time. And for freelancers, time is money. It’s certainly understandable to want to learn more about potential candidates, especially if the client will be investing a lot of money in a project. However, the client also has the responsibility to filter out as many possible freelancers up front so that the number of interviews needed can be minimized.
  • Asking for a low introductory rate–You’ve probably heard this one. I know that I have. A “client” approaches and asks if you’ll take on his or her project at a low rate–with the promise of future work from that same client that pays more. Sadly, this promise of additional work rarely materializes. The freelancer who agrees to this arrangement usually finds themselves working a single project at well below their market rate.

If you’re asked to jump through any of these hoops, your best option is usually to just say “no.” Remember, clients who are unreasonable before you are hired are not likely to suddenly become more reasonable once they’ve selected you.

Unreasonable Client Demands During a Project

Sometimes, unreasonable client demands don’t materialize until after a freelancer signs a contract with a client. Here are some examples of unreasonable demands that occur during a freelancing project:

  • Asking for endless revisions–While it’s customary to make minor revisions to keep a customer happy, endless revisions are unreasonable. A client who demands revision after revision–even to the point of changing the scope of the project–is being unfair. Worse yet, multiple demands for a revision can delay billing, which often means that the freelancer doesn’t get paid when they expected to get paid.
  • Demanding the freelancer be continuously available–The majority of clients don’t pay enough for a freelancer to dedicate 100% of their time to the client’s project. This means that most freelancers juggle several projects in order to make ends meet. However, some clients act as though their project is the only one the freelancer is working on. They may call multiple times each day for status reports, make sudden rush demands, or become upset if a freelancer doesn’t answer an email instantly.
  • Not holding up their part of the bargain–The flip side of the client who wants a continuously available freelancer is the client who is never around themselves. They don’t return drafts on time. They don’t answer questions or provide information as agreed upon. They can’t be reached by phone or email for days at a time.

The best way to avoid some of these unreasonable situations is to make sure that you have a well-written contract with your client before you begin work. The contract should specify how many revisions and meetings you’ll be responsible for as well as list deadlines for both freelancer and client.

Unreasonable Client Demands After a Project

Even after a project ends, some clients are still making unreasonable demands. Here are some examples of that:

  • Asking for additional time to pay the freelancer–Let’s face it, freelancers have to eat too. A client who doesn’t pay on time as agreed upon negatively impacts the freelancer’s cash flow. It also takes the freelancer’s time, since they must now make extra efforts to try and collect the money that is due them. From my perspective, a client should not hire a freelancer unless they have the money to pay the freelancer in hand.
  • Complaining about work even though it met the requirements–Some people just can’t be pleased–and that goes for some clients too. No matter what you do, they aren’t going to be happy with it. In this situation, minimizing the client’s unhappiness is sometimes the best a freelancer can do.

Your Turn

When you find yourself jumping through hoops for an unreasonable client, remember you can choose not to work with them.

Have I left out any unreasonable client demands? Have you ever dealt with an unreasonable client? Share your answers in the comments. (Please don’t use specific company or individual names–be creative.)

Image by agiamba