32 Ways to be a jerk to your design clients

  1. Argue with them about every single change or revision they have.
  2. Don’t call them back.
  3. Use email instead of phone calls 100% of the time.
  4. Talk negatively about them on twitter with fellow designers.
  5. Bill them when fixing an error that was clearly yours.
  6. Miss your deadlines.
  7. Subcontract their work without telling them.
  8. Forget about their target audience, design preferences, etc. They don’t know what they want.
  9. Submit their email content to Clients from Hell.
  10. Treat them like they know nothing about design.
  11. Don’t turn on your autoresponder when out of the office.
  12. Send a “due on receipt” invoice without warning.
  13. Use sites like 99Designs.com to farm out their project.
  14. Focus on what makes a good portfolio piece instead of what fulfills their needs.
  15. Don’t send them a Holiday card.
  16. Never follow up with them after completing a project.
  17. Demand immediate response regardless of the number of people who have to weigh in on the project.
  18. Don’t warn them you’re heading out of the office for a week.
  19. Charge them more than your work is worth.
  20. Only allow one payment option. Usually some obscure invoicing system they have to sign up for just to pay your invoice is best.
  21. Refuse to fix content errors that they obviously submitted.
  22. Don’t use a contract.
  23. Ask them for referrals without ensuring they had a good experience with you.
  24. Don’t be flexible. Stand firm and don’t work with them when human problems arise.
  25. Tell them their designs are outdated.
  26. Alert them they have a really ugly logo (especially if they did it themselves when they first started the company).
  27. Make a big deal of little things.
  28. Set other projects (like blogging, designing your own web site, etc) ahead of their in priority.
  29. Be sarcastic.
  30. Make them come to your office every time you meet. Whatever you do, don’t drive to their place.
  31. Demand to speak with someone “higher up” when your contact person demands changes you don’t agree with.
  32. Lie.

Got some to add? Comment here.

Keep the conversation going...

Over 5,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!

  1. Great, Very useful advices shared. Following these tips will be very helpful to keep your client calm. Never make your client angry or unsatisfied with your work or demands.

  2. Also, I don’t think using email 100% of the time is being a jerk. I run my business 95% of the time through email and I never had a problem out any of my clients.

    Not using a contract is another, never had a problem because my website lays out my policies and terms of service and by paying, they agree to everything stated on my website, as well in email. I don’t think you can be a jerk for not using a contract, it just may be they way and how you run your business.

  3. “10. Treat them like they know nothing about design.”

    Good one. I have done this maybe once or twice, when a potential client wanted to under pay me and over work me.

  4. That is alot of ways to be a jerk to a client. Being a jerk is definitely something I try to avoid.

  5. Designer do these to their clients? Makes me feel sad… a lot of the above “tips” seem like such common sense to avoid.

  6. 3. I do most my work via e-mail. I have clients from all over the world and many don’t understand the Earth is round and if it’s 4PM in their city it’s not 4 PM where I live. So, instead of having to answer to my phone at 3 AM (as I did couple of times) and have the client feel like an …ss for waking me up, I handle the project via e-mail. Same with my local clients. We usually chat by phone or meet in person, then we can manage most of the work via email.

    7. a lot of the US based companies DO outsource and not tell their clients. Oh, excuse me, they tell their clients the prices they ask are ‘premium’ because designers from other parts of the world do crappy job (they do charge way less), while outsourcing the jobs to said designers (who allegedly do crappy job) and pocket the difference, while the client is so proud he/she is supporting the local economy by hiring an expensive US based company 😀

    PS: love the article actually and agree with most you’ve written in it 😉

  7. In summary, don’t treat them how you want to be treated. Customer service is common sense.

  8. Oh come on, most of us Freelancers don’t act this way! Great customer service is essential for us to stay in business and we truly want the best for our clients and their audience or at least I do.

    But what if it’s the client does what you’re mentioning above to us….don’t listen to our professional recommendations, try to do our job for us, ignore us or the worse – not to pay us for our expertise and time? Or the marketing businesses that forse us into “test” projects (if you redesign our company’s catalogs, website or whatever and if we’ll like it, we’ll hire you on the spot). Maybe you should be writing about that. Pitching is a serious problem and if this scam will continue, it will wipe out design industry.

  9. It sounds like you were on the receiving end of some poor customer service! 🙁

    I always marvel at the stories I’ve heard about bad designers…no wonder they’re no longer in business!

  10. Of all of these, the one that I take the most issue with is the e-mail/phone call thing. For one, I think that it depends on what type of design you do. For most clients, I really don’t see the point in phone communication after an initial “get to know you” phone call. A phone call is just as impersonal as an e-mail with a whole lot of room for more error. I have clients that insist on talking on the phone for *every* contact between us, whether it’s a new project or just a minor revision. I believe that they do this largely to make themselves feel more comfortable that progress is being made, which is important, just not as important as accurate revision requests and appropriate turn around, etc. It also bears mentioning that people who have a pet peeve about not getting phone calls returned are generally those same people who call *way* too often, be it a business or personal phone call.

  11. Look at one of your points again – “Charge them more than your work is worth”. I think that is relative. The value each individual place on his work is different. Hence, what an individual charge can be different from others. You can’t compete on price alone. So, that your point is not really valid.

  12. Password-protect their design files and DON’T give them the password. And always remember to charge them a hefty fee whenever they need you to access those files!

The conversation's still going in our free Facebook group . Join us there!