Most clients are great to work with. However, beware! Lurking in the shadows can sometimes emerge an unsavory client that is difficult, demanding, unreliable – downright scary.
This article covers 10 different types of clients you may want to avoid.
Don’t Be Scared…
As a WordPress developer, new business is typically a good thing. After all, potential clients are what you want if your goal is to grow. But sometimes, the payday for a project from a client might not be worth it if you go through hell to work with them.
Luckily, there are some warning signs you can look out for regarding these terrifying clients and also ways to manage them. Plus, if you run across one of these monsters, there’s a lot you can learn from the experience.
This being said, you’re probably familiar with these types of clients. They’re the ones that don’t make life easy for you when all you want to do is your job.
For example, they’re the “can you get this done tomorrow, and I’m not paying you more for your speedy delivery” type. Or, the “I texted you an hour ago, and you haven’t responded!” client.
We’ll break down a few indications of “monsters” to be on the lookout for, so you might think twice before losing sleep after agreeing to develop a WordPress site for the boogeyman.
This article will cover the 10 terrifying clients, including:
Talker of Terror: Talks Negatively About Other WordPress Developers
The Time Sucker: Expects Responses 24/7
The Rabid Revisioner: Wants Unlimited Revisions (for free)
The Treatment Tormentor: Wants Special Treatment
The Grim Signer: Issues Signing a Contract
Silence of the Damned: Awful Communicator
The Lateness Monster: Doesn’t Pay On Time
The Delinquent Demon: Doesn’t Pay What You Want
The Threatener: Threatens Your Reputation
Demanding Dracula: Impossible Demands
Frightened yet? Let’s begin!
1. Talker of Terror: Talks Negatively About Other WordPress Developers
This monster doesn’t have good things to say.
If potential clients start talking negatively about other developers or services they have hired, some red flags should go up. It’s an indicator that this client will be hard to please and that they may turn their negativity on to you, too.
And having a bad-talking client can lead to awful reviews and a bad reputation.
One thing you can do is ask what happened in the past and determine whether their talking points are valid or not. After all, there can be some bad experiences that have left the client to be upset with past developers. Try to find out why and if they had a right to talk negatively about them after what happened.
If they’re talking negatively about a previous developer because of costs, quality of work, or something that might just be an opinion of theirs and not based on facts, then beware. Every story has two sides, and they may turn on you quicker than a werewolf during a full moon.
2. The Time Sucker: Expects Responses 24/7
Waiting is no friend of this beast.
While it’s okay for a client to communicate via email 24/7 (after all, in this business, clients are worldwide and in different time zones), it’s not okay for them to expect you to get back to them immediately (unless you are okay with it).
Responses can take time. Sure, you want to get back to your client promptly, but they can’t expect you to get back instantaneously.
The worst-case scenario is if they text and expect responses around the clock. Yikes!
You probably work hours that you set (or your agency implements), so ensure that your client is aware of this. You can mention that emails are responded to within two business days, not on weekends. Also, if they have your direct number, make clear that phone calls and texts are not answered outside 9-5 in your time zone.
It’s up to you to decide your hours, but feeling like you’re on the clock 24/7 is a nightmare. Make sure you lay out your guidelines before working with a client. After doing this, if a client expects you to be on beck and call – it might be time to cut them loose, and they can call upon someone else.
If there is a scenario for this, it might be a tight deadline or something urgent. It’s up to you to allow 24/7 calls; if you do, be sure to upcharge accordingly.
3. The Rabid Revisioner: Wants Unlimited Revisions (for free)
“Can you add a bigger logo? Wait… it’s too big. Can you change it back? Now, can you put the logo at the bottom of the page? Actually, move it in the middle.”
From the depths of hell comes the Rabid Revisioner. A client that wants constant revisions and also doesn’t want to pay you for them.
Normally, these are the type of clients that feel like they know what’s best for the project, despite your expertise.
The best way to avoid the catastrophe is to lay the groundwork before getting started. Make sure you and the client are on the same page. Ask many questions and make sure it’s clear for both of you – in writing.
Also, define how many revisions you’ll do when signing on with a new client. That way, they know that there are no “unlimited” revisions and will be satisfied with the results.
4. The Treatment Tormentor: Wants Special Treatment
This is one entitled monster.
When a new (or existing) client wants special treatment, that’s a situation to avoid. This client wants you to perform tasks outside your norm, wants special discounts, and expects you to accommodate them at every level – which can be tormenting.
Of course, it’s important to treat clients special – because they are! But this is about the ones that go way beyond that…
With your WordPress development business, you have criteria and specifications for what you do. Of course, you can say “no” to all these requests (and it’s important to do). Be careful, though: this can lead to bad reviews. Just be courteous and mention that you stick to the book.
If you have the resources, you can also help them by referring specific tasks to someone else if it’s something out of your wheelhouse.
As mentioned before, this is why it’s important to state all that you will be doing and can do before starting work. It will help deter this type of behavior.
5. The Grim Signer: Issues Signing Contract
It’s not likely you’ll see its signature any time soon.
As we just touched on with The Treatment Tormenter, it’s important to lay out what you will perform with the client. The best way to do this is in the form of a contract that breaks down each party’s responsibilities.
For you, it details the project’s scope, timeline, costs, etc. For the client, it lays out the payment plans, how to communicate, etc – all in one spot.
Getting a client that doesn’t want to sign a contract is a huge warning sign. Basically, they’re not abiding by the agreement, and it can become hearsay on what was supposed to be included in the job.
It’s okay to negotiate a contract, make tweaks, and more. It’s NOT okay to not want to sign anything once the guidelines have been established.
A client that doesn’t want to sign a contract is best to avoid. It’s a bad sign of other things to come and can be a mess when completing a WordPress project – which is the stuff of nightmares.
6. Silence of the Damned: Awful Communicator
You won’t get much out of this creepy client.
A good indicator of whether to work with a potential client is their initial communication. Is their email full of typos? Do they not respond to messages? Can they not answer basic questions?
Good communication is key to completing a project to the best of your ability and a client’s standards. Without it, there can be delays, wrong designs, unclear texts on the homepage – you name it!
The good news is that you can quickly determine how good a communicator is from their initial contact. Is the message unclear on what they want to be done immediately? That might be a good reason not to take on the project.
Another good test can be arranging a Zoom meeting and seeing how well they are in person. Some people do communicate better than others face-to-face rather than by email. It might work if it’s okay with you to talk in person rather than by message.
In general, it’s a team effort regarding WordPress development. Sure, you’re the expert, but it takes good communication to get the job done right.
7. The Lateness Monster: Doesn’t Pay On Time
Behind the payment schedule is a terrifying aspect of this one.
The Lateness Monster can put you in the perils of debt. It can cause you to be late on rent or scrambling to pay that electricity bill.
This is the client type that doesn’t pay on time. Payments are still delayed even when you give them ample time (60-day invoice, anyone).
Having delayed payments can put you in a financial crunch, so it’s best to drop a client that is habitually late with their payment. Not only is it hard financially for you, but it’s also inconsiderate.
A good client knows that you depend on income, and they need to comply and pay on time.
8. The Delinquent Demon: Doesn’t Pay What You Want
You’ll go through hell getting paid by this demonic character.
This client type believes you charge too much, doesn’t think your service is worth it, and wants to negotiate waaaay down below your worth.
Speaking of worth, this client isn’t worth your time. They’ll continue to lowball you, and if you get them to pay what you want, they’ll probably be disappointed and upset that they paid so much.
The reality is that your prices may be high to them, and it’s outside their budget. If that’s the case, you’re probably not a good fit as a developer for this specific client – and that’s okay. You can always recommend some budget-friendly resources (Fiverr is a good example), but you can also let them know that you get what you pay for.
9. The Threatener: Threatens Your Reputation
Your reputation is on the line when this monster arrives.
You have probably heard it before, but you can’t please everyone. Not everyone will be satisfied no matter how much you bend backward for someone. Or, maybe you actually did mess something up, and it needs to be fixed.
Instead of them coming to you for a solution to improve things, sometimes they’ll just trash your reputation on review sites or elsewhere.
Getting publicly smeared is never pleasant. If this hellish scenario happens, comment on forums and let readers know your perspective.
Or, if there’s a way to get with the client smearing you and offering to make it right so they can take down the negative review, that’s even better.
On the opposite side of this, if you have an unpleasant experience with a client, be careful not to shame them publicly. It can hurt your reputation as a developer just as much as a client can.
10. Demanding Dracula: Impossible Demands
You’ll be left lifeless afterward.
There’s nothing like getting the life sucked out of you by a Demanding Dracula. These are the types of clients that are demanding and have unrealistic expectations.
You may be expected to drop everything else you’re doing to focus solely on them and the project you’re working on.
To avoid this, on a contract, you give guidelines on your hours, responsibilities, and what the project consists of. If they start acting this way, you can refer them back to the original agreement.
Now that we’ve covered some spooky individuals, here’s some…
Tips When it Comes to Terrifying Clients
As you can see, working with any of these 10 terrifying client types can be a nightmare. There are tips included in each category above on how to avoid each situation, but to help you out further, here’s a few more:
Never begin a project without asking for at least 30-50% of the project fee. Having a downpayment puts skin in the game on the client’s part and ensures that you’ve been paid at least partial payment to begin.
Always sign a contract, and include a cancellation clause before starting work on any project. Layout the scope of the project, timeline, costs – every vital detail. Make sure you and your client agree and sign on both ends.
Try never to take on a project if the client has no vision. It’s best if the client has some groundwork (what needs to be included, some copywriting, etc); otherwise, it might be a lot of back-and-forths determining what exactly it is you’re creating.
Set strict deadlines, work incrementally, and deliver everything promptly (by outlines laid out in the contract). Basically, live up to the agreement on your end. This should keep terrifying clients somewhat happy, even if they’re hard to work with, and discourage them from writing bad reviews.
Go with your gut! Often your instinct is right whether to work with someone or not. If it feels “off”, it probably is.
Breathe. Do yoga. Meditate. Whatever it takes to keep it together when dealing with a bad client. Look at it as a learning opportunity, and know that you can move on.
These simple tips can help you avoid or handle terrifying well. The last point is especially important: you can move on from a bad client and learn from them. That’s how you avoid working with a particular client type in the future.
Now that we’ve covered these terrifying clients, you can rest easy knowing there’s nothing to be afraid of. Unlike a monster under your bed, scary clients can be real. However, there’s nothing to worry about if you handle them a certain way or avoid them in the first place.
It’s all part of being a web developer. Not every client and circumstance is the same. But as frightening as that is, you don’t have to spend all your time with a bad client and have them haunt you for the rest of your career.
Just remember that they are out there in the shadows looking for their next developer, so beware, avoid, or handle them accordingly. And try not to lose any sleep over it.