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4 Types of clients that will make your hair stand on end

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Everyone has had their fair share of annoying clients during their careers.

It’s something all businesses carry on their backs and even though you might think that you’ll never have to face such clients, but sooner or later, it will happen.

You just never know when.

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All of a sudden, you’ll realize that your work is piling up because you spent too much time focusing on that one client, and this causes a lot of stress.

This is why it is important to learn how to handle such situations and take the best approach possible. You won’t be able to focus properly on your other clients when someone is wasting away so much of your energy.

Each business must have proper methods for getting the best out of these situations, even if it means terminating the project.

This is why I created this list of the most annoying clients, 4 of them to be exact.

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These people can cause you a lot of problems and they can even sabotage your entire operation.

But fear not, as we will also explain how you can handle them.

1. The panicking one

“Oh my god everything is crumbling down!”

For a panicky client, everything seems like an emergency. This is a person who cannot relax, even when there are no problems to be found.

Instead, this kind of client will imagine some non-existing issue and, of course, in most cases they will point the finger at you and tell you that you caused it.

Such clients can create a terrible working environment where there are two parties who are driven by some unrealistic conclusions. Panic is usually driven by fear and the best option you have is to try and understand why that person is afraid.

Maybe he or she has some other, realistic problems that concern them personally and this has set them into this panic mood.

What you need to do is help them overcome their fears, see what the problem is, focus on solving the issue and work on finishing the job together with a solid plan.

They will feel reassured and, with less stress, you will be able to work better.

2. The messenger

This is a person who doesn’t have a powerful position.

There is a superior who pulls all the strings, but they use a messenger to do all of their work.

So, this person has been assigned to work with you as a client, in spite of the fact that he or she might not like it. This kinds of client might also be the one who has to take the fall for somebody else and if they go down, they will drag you down with them.

In most cases, these are inexperienced people who have simply taken a bite they cannot chew. This will cause a lot of misunderstandings in communication and it’ll make your job a lot harder.

The first option is to ask to see the boss and try to explain the issues you are having.

Say that you need to communicate directly if the job is to be done correctly. If this is not possible, then ask this messenger person to follow your lead and do everything on your terms.

Try to provide them with important input, so that they can be more productive as a client.

3. Clients who don’t want to pay

In modern business, you can expect that there be some delays when it comes to getting paid.

Even those good, trustworthy clients have problems from time to time. This is all normal, but if you are working with a client who hasn’t made the last payment and the next one is already due, then you have a problem.

Make sure that you sign business contracts or find a way to have some other type of safety net that guarantees that you will get paid.

Even if someone is late doesn’t mean that they won’t pay you, but you need to be sure that they will.

If they don’t pay you twice in a row, use all the power you have to get your money and terminate the partnership.

4. The all-knowing client

“I’ve come up with a plan, this is how you should do it!”

One of the worst kinds of clients you could possibly come across are those people who hire you and want to teach you how to do your job, not realizing how little they know about it.

Partnerships and collaborations are one thing, but there are people who think that they can tell you what to do just because you are just doing business together.

Take a stand and let that person know that you are in charge.

Appreciate their input but show them how ahead you are of them and explain how you see the situation.

Set boundaries and let them know that you are in a business relationship and that, just because they are you clients doesn’t mean that they own you.

In the end, if you are not able to come to a solution or a mutual agreement, stop doing business with these people and find new clients. There is no need to waste energy and resources on people who are not worthy.

What’s your philosophy for dealing with tough clients? Have you encountered the types mentioned above?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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About Nick Colakovic

Nick Colakovic works for firstsiteguide.com. He’s passionate about helping other bloggers take their craft to the next level and likes to help newbies understand the joy of being online.

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  1. haha! such a timely article. Received an email from a client last night with half of her website content (yea only half) and this sentence in her email: “I will be emailing you other details about each page such as goals, ideas, where I want things, etc.”

    Yea, where she wants things. I’m half tempted to ask “Are you designing this website or am I?” ugh…

    BTW – this is probably the 6th pain in the ask thing she has done so far on this project. She stated in another email that “or I’ll use another designer at a cheaper rate because it’s just changing text not re-designing anything..” That was in regards to her label I designed.

    I’ve learned that any time a client uses “JUST” in any statement, that they do not value my time…

    I might be Googling how to fire a client soon…

    • While I’m thankful for my clients, some are from Hello and need to be rejected to maintain a healthy soul. You mentioned that this is the sixth time she’s done something… I would definitely terminate the relationship as soon as possible; it only get’s worse from there. I’m learning that stress and frustration isn’t good for your soul; no matter the pay. I hope you resolve this client soon.

    • Nick Colakovic says:

      Hey Roxanne, great example! That’s exactly the situation I wrote about.

      I think this is the most common situation when it comes to web design or design in general. ‘Know-it-all’ clients that usually don’t know much but have a strong opinion or have a problem with controlling every part of the project that they don’t run. And the blackmail in your case…what a way to do business – by spreading fear!

      It really comes down to personal issues someone has or lack of self control in these situations, but you have to be the one that draws the line beyond you won’t go any further. It’s important not to loose self-confidence, especially if the client is persistent or aggressive with his/her demands. Your project, your company – your rules. Integrity is definitely more important that loosing one client. Always keep that in mind 🙂

  2. All these scenarios ring so true!

  3. Recently I tried to fire someone who just wouldn’t go away. They got a very polite email stating that this is what I have to offer. If it’s not good enough I’m happy to package what I’ve done for you so far .. it might be a better fit for you to call so and so. Unfortunately she didn’t leave but we have better boundaries. I am not quoting the next project.

    • Nick Colakovic says:

      Setting up the boundaries right and holding on to them is the key to keeping the integrity of your business. You need to respect yourself first in order for others to do so, as well. Thanks for sharing your case, Jmjm!

      • I have heard of the “special” rate that’s just for those “special” clients! That is, they’ll have to pay me $XXX an hour for me to have to put up with their B.S. And I’ve heard, some of them DO pay the rate (maybe they know themselves well). I’ve had one “I’d rather be living in the gutter than working for you” client, and… well… Yeah. They had the nerve a few times to approach me after treating me like crap. I was always “too busy,” and finally they stopped asking. And then, they went out of business. 🙂 Karma will do that!

        • Nick Colakovic says:

          Thanks for Joining the conversation, Patricia!
          Having special rates for those special clients is a convenient way of turning their request down. Classic but very effective, I must say! And if they are willing to accept the price…well good for both of you! 🙂
          I must add that there is no room for rudeness in any relationship, especially business. It’s important to detect the toxic clients in the early stages and find the best way to deal with them.
          Yeah, karma always finds its way.

  4. I have a client who thought I would magic up his website given no content at all! This after begging his ‘messenger’ for the content for a month. He was then utterly shocked to find that no website had presented itself! They promised me the content the next day but had my doubts about continuing the project all together. Thought it would be more stress than it was worth! So I said that if the content was not received by close of day the next day I was going to refund them my deposit! Hey presto, all the content was sent the next day exactly as I had asked!

    • Nick Colakovic says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Lauren. It’s always like that in the relationship that one side doesn’t respect the other. There needs to be mutual understanding and respect in order for it to work.
      As Neal stated above, when something isn’t right from the start, it’s only gonna get worse from there. Toxic clients aren’t good for your business or well being so you shouldn’t hold on to them.
      When you close one door the other will open!

  5. Ha, ha! Very true, I’ve had them all, and you made me think of another one… “Clients who don’t have a clue about what they want” aka “The Mind-Changers.” It’s not horrible, because by going round and round in a circle trying to figure out what they really want, they’re creating more work for me — which often translates into more money. But when I’m honestly trying to provide good, effective, efficient service, these clients do try my patience.

    • Nick Colakovic says:

      Again, as long as it’s beneficial for you – go for it 🙂
      The moment they start draining your energy and resources, that’s the time to reconsider the arrangement.

  6. I have encountered the all-knowing one, who might also be called the Micromanager. It isn’t fun at all. I love freelancing because of the independence part of it, and I’d love to be given some space to be creative -albeit with some boundaries. There’s also the client who seems to never be quite sure what he wants? Shall he be called the not knowing one? 🙂 Not sure when he’ll send over all the details, not sure how he wants the project to be done, or even when it’ll start. Quite frustrating too.

    • Nick Colakovic says:

      Hey Sheeroh, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Being forced to deal with clients that aren’t sure what they want can be quite frustrating, that’s for sure.
      It’s good to have a system for early categorizing them due to previous experience and act accordingly, so you don’t waste your time on someone who’s that much not sure about anything. By freelancing you do meet a lot of different people and it’s great if you can select the ones you can find mutual understanding with.


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