Why I don’t work with every client, and why you shouldn’t too

By Osaze 3 years ago
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Don't work for every designer

Last week I had a funny conversation with a client, we had met once physically, and talked a few times over the phone, finally NDAs had been signed and it was time to talk about the big idea. The Skype conversation went something like this.

(Let’s call her Cynthia for the sake of this post)
*after 5 mins of light conversation*
Cynthia: Sorry, I can hear a few people in the background, is anyone there with you…?
Me: Yeah, my room mates
Cynthia: Err… I don’t feel comfortable with you talking about my idea when your roommate is around, you are the one that signed the NDA, so he’s not bound by anything, he can just steal my idea
NB: At this point, I’d like you to keep in mind that all she wants to do is create a directory listing website
Me: Cynthia, my roommates work with GSK and KPMG, they don’t care about your idea, neither would they know what to do with it if they knew it
*At this point my roommate looks at me with a scowl on his face like “you’re mad”*
*fast forward 20mins later*
Me: Cynthia, I don’t think this idea would work with the way it’s planned right now, a lot of bigger companies are offering what you’re proposing and more for free and you want to charge people for it, what makes your idea different from the free and better options out there?
Cynthia: [short pause] Osaze, how long will it take you to build the website?
Me: [looses it] I don’t think I can work with you Cynthia, I wouldn’t build something I don’t believe in…. [followed by another 1hr conversation]

——- The End

I’m sure you’ve come across clients like this if you’ve been in business long enough; people who have no idea of the space they’re entering into and wouldn’t listen to advice because their idea must be gold. It’s  brilliant (that’s what their friends and family said- like they’d say anything else), it is different from every similar idea out there – even though they can’t say why specifically – and they must launch it NOW!!!

I ended up not working with “Cynthia”, and I’d give you a few reasons why; I…

 

1. Don’t work with clients who don’t value constructive criticism

I think that every idea should be open for an honest conversation and where the client doesn’t value that kind of open conversation, what basically happens is that you become an employed staff; you’re just another robot doing the bidding of your master.

OK, maybe that’s a little extreme, point is, if I think something is wrong with your idea, I should be able to point it out and expect to get your attention on it, I do this mostly because of one reason, which brings me to my second point.

 

2. I don’t work on ideas I don’t believe in

I think that passion drives freelancers and business owners really. We don’t do things we don’t love. If we don’t love it, we wouldn’t be doing it in our free time, we wouldn’t stay up at night till 4am to wake up 6am and continue work on the same product, we wouldn’t unintentionally deny ourselves food so we can squeeze in more time to add a few extra lines of code or tweak a business plan!

So when I work on your idea, I want to buy into it, I want to feel the passion you feel so I have the drive you have, only then will I be able to bring to life the idea you have in your heart.

In Cynthia’s case for example, she didn’t give me the opportunity to buy into the idea, so there was just no way I could pull it off

 

3. Some clients take more time than they would ever pay for

If you haven’t figured out by now that the only true resource you have is time, again, you probably haven’t been in the business long enough. On an average, most people work with multiple clients at the same time, all paying different amounts for their projects, and all requiring varying amounts of time.

But there are clients that just don’t get it! I got a call one night at 1:30am from a client who wanted me to change an image in an email. In my head, I’m like “Dear Lord! Couldn’t it wait till at least 7am?!”

And what starts to happen in situations like these is, the clients who pay smaller amounts and are more adamant in their ideas about what the finished job should look like demand more time, and hence cost you more money than the guys that paid 3x what they’ve paid you and probably never even asked to see physically. I never really understood why it’s always the cheaper clients that did this in my case, still yet to piece it together.

In one such case, I designed a site for a client, he sent me a stinker to say he didn’t like the design, in fairness to him, I did it in a hurry, and so even though it was good, I gave him the benefit of doubt and did a redesign. Went back to him to confirm if he prefered the new design, and all I got was “No, not working for me”. When I asked why, he said he didn’t know why exactly, he just didn’t like two perfectly OK designs. If you know me, you’d know this usually wouldn’t go down well… so I sent him a mail

 

“—

I’d like to clarify exactly what you do not like about this new design, for me to make this work, I’d need constructive criticism.

 

And what I’d advise is that you send these links to the person you mentioned that referred you, a third eye might help. I have checked with three different web designers on both designs for the home page, together, we’ve worked with companies like Vodacom and Unilever’s Knorr, Royco and Omo, and with brands like that, look and feel is all that they’re after, they have all agreed that both home pages look OK, with a preference for the second.

You asked that I create a more modern design for your brand, and that’s exactly what I’ve done, and compared to the site links that you had sent to me, outside of Huawei, these designs are better that the rest, and those sites are not mobile optimized, which means that they would gradually drop out from being found on Google.

I’ve worked on your site to the extent to which I can, to help project the brand as requested, if after seeking outside opinion you do not think that any of these designs work well for you, and you do not think you’d be able to point out specific elements that would need changing so I can fine tune what’s on ground, kindly let me know, I’d be happy to refund the transferred initial payment in full.

I’ll be standing by for your revert.

—”

Dazzal! There’s just no time to play ping pong with your indecision. *drops mic, walks away*

*Runs back to grab the mic* lol

I sent that mail today, so I’d let you know what the response is like 🙂

The point is, some clients are not worth the time and effort when matched against your personal ethos, if they’re not, a lot of times, it pays to walk away, just like I did.

Have you had annoying clients like these before? Or you hate me for my views (I know you’re out there), share your thoughts, it’d be great to hear them.

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  Stuff
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