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Clients From Hell 2: A collection of anonymously-contributed client horror stories

Clients From Hell 2: A collection of anonymously-contributed client horror stories

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Clients From Hell 2: A collection of anonymously-contributed client horror stories

254 pages
3 heures
Apr 14, 2014


A cult phenomenon among those who work in graphic, print and web design, Clients From Hell brings readers to tears with unbelievable and always hilarious anecdotes from those on the frontlines of the freelancing industry.

Featuring new material and an unmasked editor, Clients From Hell 2 combines the collective wisdom and woe of thousands of creative professionals and distils the entire experience into one eloquent e-book. The second addition to the Clients From Hell series taps freelance veterans for even more material. Interviews, resources, and particularly poignant tales of client insanity are all included alongside the fan-favourite anecdotes of freelancing dysfunction.

For the first time, Clients From Hell takes a step back from finger-pointing and clever name-calling to inform the audience of how to make it as a creative professional. Step one: buy this book. Step two: take heed of these cautionary tales. Step three: we haven't thought of a step three yet. We'll worry about that when revisions come around.

Anyone who has ever worked with clients may find these tales frighteningly familiar. New freelancers may think twice about their chosen profession - or at least find relief in the fact that they're not alone in absurd client interactions.

And the rest of you? You can just laugh and enjoy your day job.

Apr 14, 2014

À propos de l'auteur

Bryce Bladon is an award-winning writer and photographer with a passion for digital media. His work has appeared in journals, magazines, and collections. Bryce enjoys long walks, dogs with floppy ears, and referring to himself in the third-person.

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Aperçu du livre

Clients From Hell 2 - Bryce Bladon



Anyone who works as a creative freelancer will find that there are two kinds of clients: the good, and the ones you read about at Clients From Hell. Rarely is there anyone who fits in-between.

Clients From Hell launched at the start of 2010 and immediately resonated with designers and other likeminded freelancers. Community formed around sympathy for the submitter and anger for the subjects of these stories.

The community has grown and the content has become diverse. Clients From Hell is working to become more than just a depository for the horrors of everyday freelance life. Our community proves that empathy allows individuals to unite around a common complaint or hardship. We’ve worked with numerous individuals and organizations in an attempt to collect the best advice and tailored content on the web. These efforts will become apparent in the upcoming pages, as well as our Freelancing Guide, which has been included at the end of this book.

Thank you for purchasing the book. Feel free to share your thoughts with us at the site, in the Amazon review area, or via a catchy YouTube song. Enjoy the stories, and pray you never have to experience the drudgery contained within these pages.

Meet Your Guides

Nobody should go to hell alone. Dante had someone to take him from hell to heaven, and so will you. We’ve attempted to make our guides as diverse as possible, tapping on experts, leaders, and a varied selection of creative-based freelancers to dispense advice and lend a hand for the ascent. Here are just a few of the people we talked to. You’ll find their words of wisdom sprinkled throughout the book.

Courtney Eliseo is a designer and has been for over eight years. Eliseo’s path to full-time freelancing is an ideal one. She started working at a New York firm after graduating from college, and then proceeded to freelance part-time before dedicating herself to it fulltime. She manages Seamless Creative and the popular blog DesignWorkLife.com.

Sara Horowitz founded Working Today in 1995, which would go on to become The Freelancers Union and the premiere political force for the freelance movement. The union recently started Freelancers Medical, a freelancer-centric medical insurance company unlike anything else available. She worked as a labour attorney, a public defender, and a union organizer in New York City. She recently published The Freelancer’s Bible.

Mirabai Knight is a freelance stenographer, providing her services to deaf and hard of hearing university students. With over five years in her niche, she shows how a little drive and dedication is enough to carve out a path for one’s self. She can also type over 240 words a minute, which is neat.

Glen O’Neil is a freelance illustrator and owner of TheYetee.com. A father of two, Glen offers insight about the realities of working alone for someone else (be it a newspaper, his children, or most immature of all, his clients). His work with The Yetee – a daily t-shirt site that sells illustrations from freelancers for a cut of the profits – shows how he values collaboration and how he sought to correct the problems he had with his industry.

Steven Pedigo is the director of the Creative Class Group and Vice President for business attraction and research for Greenlight Greater Portland. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Dallas Morning News.

Kyle Loranger has been in business for almost two decades. A true freelance veteran, he now manages his own design firm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Brian Van Wyk is a 20-year-old South African photographer. His concert photography has earned him a devout following, but he also offers a variety of other commissions and photography packages. Despite his youth, he has seen a substantial amount of success in an incredibly competitive field.

Sarah Von Bargen is the daily blogger behind YesAndYes.org. Already writing on a daily basis, she quit her teaching job and pursued freelance writing while she travelled the world. Five years later, she’s still going. With over 11K+ daily readers and a few books under her belt, she’s keen on doing what she loves how she wants to do it.

Dave Wallace is a freelance videographer who operates his own company, Innovate Imageworks, in Victoria, BC, Canada. His journey started three years ago, when a music video he created went viral, garnering 500K+ views overnight and appearing on the front page of Reddit. The hit attracted numerous opportunities for Wallace, who hasn’t looked back since.

The Shores of Purgatory

The delayed and deficient populate the shores of Purgatory. These souls aren't outright sinners, but they're far from saints. The well-meaning but poorly-informed clients here use Mozzarella Firefox and pay late invoices in pocket change. These clients are simply too ignorant or ill-informed to deserve hell, but they're always just another revision away from heaven. As well, some of the sillier stories of freelance-related blunders can be found treading these shallow waters.

A client was briefing me on a branding project for a family beach resort.

ME: The beach looks wonderful. We’ll really have to highlight the appeal of swimming in the sea. 

CLIENT: For sure, it’s pretty. But we’ll want to downplay actually swimming in it.

ME: Why’s that?

CLIENT: Since purchasing the land, we discovered that the sea water at the beach flows from the Antarctic, so it’s ice cold. 

ME: Oh, that’s no good. Still - 

CLIENT: …which tends to attract sharks. 

CLIENT: I am having a problem closing my cup holder on my computer. Can you help me?

ME: Your computer does not have a cup holder, are you talking about your CD-ROM drive?

CLIENT: Oh, is that what it’s for?

I’m sending you a Ziploc with the files in it.

CLIENT: The graphics on the website move like the pictures are animated or whatever. Can’t you put those animated graphic on the business cards? So it moves like that?" 

ME: You mean the animated .gifs on the website?

CLIENT: Yeah, can you put them on the cards?

ME: Can I print animated images on a business card?


ME: No, I can't print animated digital images on paper.

CLIENT: Alright – do you know a print shop that can?

ME: The shop at Hogwarts, maybe?

CLIENT: Do you have their number?

Editor's Note: Everyone knows you reach them by owl.

ME: I just have some questions for you. Do you want me to email them to do?

CLIENT: Sure, I just have to set up my printer first so I can get the email.

We’re marketing it to those depressed kids out there; you know, all those emus.

Editor's Note: In this client's defense, emus are an untapped market.

CLIENT: I sure like dealing with you Australian guys, I love the accent! Which part of Australia are you from?

ME: I was born in and grew up in Scotland. That’s where the accent comes from.

CLIENT: Oh my goodness, I’m sorry. But you speak English so well!

ME: Can you provide me with a target date that you are hoping have this project finished by?

CLIENT: Sure! Just let me contact my astrologer and I'll get back to you.

I had to design a book for the history of an African-American church in my area. The job was a nightmare. It was pieced together from pdfs, word doc files, spread sheets and terrible scans. After 80 hours of work the bindery made an error and put the books in a black cover, not the requested navy blue. The client wanted a discount on the job because of the error - which I reported to my manager in front of the client by stating they want a discount just because they are black.

It’s probably the most embarrassed I have felt in my life.

ME: We’ll send the pdf file over this afternoon.

An hour later…

CLIENT: OK. Do you know what time the cab will be here with the pdf file?

Please email me back the file. I sent you the only copy I have.

During a presentation, I kept getting distracted because the partner who didn’t know English would type into a little machine that looked like a label maker. Then he’d look up, puzzled, and type again on the machine.

Halfway through the presentation it dawned on me that he was typing the filler into a English-to-Spanish translation device, and couldn’t get the Lorem Ipsum to translate. I lost it halfway through the presentation. Luckily, they had a sense of humor.

Let’s make it pop better – maybe ‘darker white' or ‘lighter black', somewhere in-between the two. Do they have a name for that?

— A client affectionately referred to as Mr. Grey

CLIENT: My friend says that he has a website that runs regardless of whether or not the internet is working.

ME: No he doesn’t.

CLIENT: Are you calling my friend Kenneth a liar?

ME: No, just that maybe Kenneth has been… misguided.

CLIENT: Maybe. He DID send a lot of money to that Nigerian prince a while ago.

Thanks for all the hard work! …JK

— A client who insists on signing all of their correspondence with their initials

A client attempted to send me materials on a CD - by photocopying the CD and mailing it to me. 

The client in question is 87-years-old. 

Editor's Note: How many 87-year-olds have a photocopier in the first place?

I couldn’t find px on my ruler.

Define Special

ME: Are there any special features you’d like added to your website? Maybe a Facebook widget?

CLIENT: Can we make the cursor look like a gorilla and have it rain bananas whenever you click something?

Can you tell me what the difference is between Photoshop and Microsoft Word?

When I sent a friendly welcome email to my new Indian client, Anuj, I noticed (too late) that my spellchecker changed it to say Hi Anus

CLIENT: Do you animate bible stories?

ME:  We don’t currently, but we can animate anything you like. What do you have in mind?

CLIENT: Well how much is it to animate the bible?

ME: Well it depends on what stories from the bible you want. The duration of the animation, how many characters, sets etc. Do you have a script?

CLIENT: Well I don’t want to elaborate on the bible, I just want to animate it for the kids.

ME: Right, okay, but in order to give you a budget I need to start somewhere so I can figure out roughly how many characters, props and such.

CLIENT: How much time will it take for creation?

ME: The creation of the assets? Characters, sets etc?

CLIENT: No, Creation, in the book of Genesis.

ME: A lot more than 7 days.

Client From Another Century

To be fair, this client is more of an old acquaintance that I’ve more or less adopted. He shows up every couple of years with a new idea he needs help with. The latest is a one page website for his wood sculptures. He does all his email and web browsing at the library and calls from a pay phone.

CLIENT: I noticed down at the bottom where my email address is that when I click it, it launches some kind of email thing.

ME: What’s the problem? Is that the wrong email?

CLIENT: No, it’s the right email, I just don’t want that on my website. That technology has got to be expensive and I don’t want to be paying for that. So just take it off. I just want my email there so people can read it. I don’t need any of this fancy stuff that makes things pop up.

ME: That’s how every email address on every site in the world works. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s just a hyperlink that launches your email client.

CLIENT: You mean that doesn’t cost extra to make that happen?

ME: No. But now I’m curious. What do you normally do when you see an email address on a site and want to email them?

CLIENT: I just get out a pen and paper and write it down. Then I go to my Hotmail account and type in their email. Isn’t that what everyone does?

ME: Nope, you’re probably the only one.

CLIENT: Okay then.

He paid me in a vial of gold nuggets, a mini-sewing machine and a fishing knife. He offered me a homemade surfboard, but I didn’t have room for it at my place. 

Oh Nein!

I was rounding off an Instant Message chat with a German client. I intended to say Let me know if I can help further. Instead, my clumsy fingers typed and sent the following before I could stop myself:

ME: Let me know if I can help fuehrer.

Do you know anything about protecting websites from viruses and sperm?

Fool Me Once...

CLIENT: My previous developer set up my PayPal for me.  

ME: And have you accessed it at all? 

CLIENT: No - they said I should just start seeing money going into my bank account automatically.

ME: And have you seen any money? 

CLIENT: No, but I haven’t talked to my her since her husband got put in jail for being a con artist.  She disappeared. I don’t think she wants to talk to anyone about it.

ME: Have you called PayPal or your bank to make sure you didn’t get scammed? 

CLIENT: No, she would never do that after being so torn up about her husband being a con artist.

ME: You should probably call her.

CLIENT: She won’t answer.

ME: …

ME: Yup, your computer is broken. Do you have another one you can use, while we take this one down to get fixed?

CLIENT: My only other computer is stashed away in an aluminum box with a bunch of magnets…

ME: What on earth would compel you to do a thing like that!?

CLIENT: Y2K was a scary, strange time for everyone, man. 

We would like you to manage our website. We’ve previously had a dream weaver to do it, but he has started college and is too busy to work on it.

CLIENT: I’m looking at using a combined blue and red colour that is neither blue nor red. I would appreciate it if you could check with a few printing experts to see if they can suggest anything.

ME: Purple. You—you mean purple.

Can You Hear Me Now?

CLIENT: I took a photo with the colours I want for my home page, I’ll send it to you, but I can’t seem to find my damn phone.

ME: Wait, so what are you calling me from?


ME: …

CLIENT: You can’t let ANYONE know about this!

Starting Your Journey

The hardest step on the journey to freelancing is the first one.

After each section of stories, freelance veterans will break down how to achieve balance between the vices and virtues of each terrace. In this section, they’ll give you some tips on getting started.

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