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Clients from Hell: A Freelance Discussion on Dealing with Problem Clients


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If you work with clients on a Freelance basis for any period of time, you will start building your own horror stories about your "Clients From Hell" and wonder how everything suddenly went wrong. Our goal is to help you change that and make your Clients from Hell become your absolute best clients.

We'll be going over principles, processes and precautions to incorporate into your interactions with clients to help you:

• Prepare more carefully when scoping your projects to catch the issues before they get out of hand

• Engage more thoughtfully with communication and become more aware of problems in the project pipeline

• Pump up your Contracts with the proper precautions to protect you and your business, just in case you get into problems with a client that can't be fixed.

We won't be doing any Client bashing stories; the primary focus of this discussion is to be aware of the warning signs for particular types of clients so you can turn them into good clients.

Published in: Business
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Clients from Hell: A Freelance Discussion on Dealing with Problem Clients

  1. 1. Clients from HELL A Freelancer’s Toolkit for Dealing with Problem Clients
  2. 2. Our Team of Freelancers Jim True, Project Manager & Support Lead, Pods Framework @jimtrue Allison Foxhall, Owner/CEO, GobbleLogic @afoxhall Thomas Giella, owner, Gearspinners @tgiella Andrew Norcross Lead Developer, Reaktiv Studios @norcross
  3. 3. Your Toolkit
  4. 4. expectations communication documentation
  5. 5. the clients
  6. 6. High Maintenance Drama Queen
  7. 7. High Maintenance Drama Queen ● unrealistic expectations ● everything is a firedrill ● believes they are your ONLY client
  8. 8. High Maintenance Drama Queen: WEAKNESSES ● be calm & reassuring ● drama + drama = FIRE ● estimate ++ deliver -- ● Identify REAL emergencies
  9. 9. the Boundary Pusher
  10. 10. the BOUNDARY Pusher ● your #1 FAN ● no boundaries ● calls at all hours ● works 24/7 expects you to as well
  11. 11. the BOUNDARY Pusher: WEAKNESSES ● maintain boundaries ● charge $$ off-hours ● establish rigid support process
  12. 12. the ClueLess Client
  13. 13. the ClueLess Client ● have no clue what they want ● but it isn’t THAT ● no idea of cost/time or effort
  14. 14. the CLUELESS Client: WEAKNESSES ● education during design ● get them to provide samples at interview ● separate design & development
  15. 15. the Many Headed Hydra
  16. 16. the Many Headed Hydra ● design by committee ● incoherent scope changes ● common with non-profits government
  17. 17. the Many Headed Hydra: WEAKNESSES ● SINGLE decision maker ● simplify project steps ● clear project phases & milestones
  18. 18. the Invisible Man & NINJA
  19. 19. the Invisible Man (& ninja) ● never communicates ● sits on review documents ● appears out of nowhere with ASAP changes
  20. 20. the Invisible Man (& ninja): WEAKNESSES ● establish deadlines for review ● regular status updates ● expiration clause for project
  21. 21. the Penny Pincher & Nit Picker
  22. 22. the Penny Pincher & Nit Picker ● focuses on minor details ● obsessed with how much it all costs ● constantly looking for a DEAL
  23. 23. the Penny Pincher & Nit Picker: WEAKNESSES ● charge $$ for ALL changes ● reduce scope never price ● get them focused on big picture
  24. 24. the SCOPE Creeper
  25. 25. the SCOPE Creeper ● can’t we just? ● just one more thing ● Scope is always a moving target
  26. 26. the SCOPE Creeper: WEAKNESSES ● charge for scope changes ● CLEAR project milestones ● focus on the GOAL ● get it in writing
  27. 27. SUMMARY ✘ Remember your Toolkit (Identify Expectations, Communicate Regularly and Document EVERYTHING) ✘ Get good at identifying the Problems during the Interview Phase; you can debug & deal with the bad clients much easier earlier in the project. ✘ Protect yourself with good contract language: Build project phases, timelines, deadlines, payment milestones and expiration clauses into your contract language.
  28. 28. Special thanks to Nathan Ingram @nathaningram Also check out, Stories from Clients From Hell: thanks!
  29. 29. Additional Thanks to: Iron Yard Tampa St Pete Campus Campus Director, Toni Aliberti @theironyard Thanks for hosting us every other 1st Thursday of the Month Tampa Bay WordPress & WordCamp Tampa WordCamp Tampa 9/25-27 USF Marshall Student Center WordPress Meetups: