Clients come and clients go. No matter if you’re an established agency or just starting out a client is the lifeblood of your business. It doesn’t matter what business you’re into you will always get the good and the bad. In the digital marketing and design business it’s easy to get excited when you see potential new clients contact you. That initial consult is can be an exciting time as both designer and client have the same goal…to build something beautiful and market it to become something big.
One of the biggest problems most newcomers have starting out is spotting a bad client. It is arguably one of the most important aspects early on that you’ll need to keep your sanity and build a sustainable business. As a web designer in a lot of circumstances clients don’t understand what it is you’re providing. They know you can build a website but most people not involved in the industry often times have no clue how long it takes and what it is you “actually” do.
Understanding how to design a web site is one thing but spotting bad clients is even more important. Here are some steps on how to do just that and the types of clients to avoid at all costs.
The I Can’t Pay You Client
This goes without saying but you’d be surprised at how many times web designers get burned by this type of client. When I first started my business I was desperate to find work. A lot of the time I would take on jobs that ended up costing me more of my time then I expected and when all is said and done my client said he couldn’t afford to pay me the full fee. Despite delivering the project on time and in fashion my client wanted to change the terms of the deal.
I’ve also had clients who want a “free mock-up” in hopes of comparing it to other designs. To me this screams “RUN”. There is no chance I will put in all the work of designing a website with the hopes that he likes it and most likely pays me a smaller fee then it’s actually worth.
One way around this is to do it properly and force this client to sign an agreement and force them a down payment. What you decide to charge is up to you but by forcing an initial payment on a web design or SEO project then both parties interests will remain at heart.
The Deal Maker
I’ve come across a lot of these lately. Clients looking to get a deal out of you for designing their website. Just recently a client found my web design company in Grande Prairie and after initially agreeing to the set price I had made when the time came to sign the papers they started to try and change the payment terms.
At that point alarms went off in my head that this could cause potential headaches down the road. Thankfully I managed to cover my basis and had a written agreement in place and contact that prevented that from happening. I also made sure to retain all the intellectual property until final payment received and had it written in the agreement that once the deal was complete hourly charges were to incur with any work following.
Similar in fashion to the “I Can’t Pay You Client’ is the entrepreneur. These guys promise the world and if you design them a website for a small (or no) fee they will pay you once the project is successful.
Don’t get me wrong, the potential for some of this could be huge but think to yourself that if someone was planning on going into business would have this basis covered and would be able to afford paying a web designer.
You can go down this route but choose carefully and do some research. Once you’re done, do some more research. If you do decide to proceed this way then make sure to get everything in writing and signed. Of course depending on the amount of work involved in the project you may want to look at getting a lawyer involved.
We’ve all been there.
You’ve got a great friend who doesn’t know anything about web design or search engine optimization and wants you to do him “a favour”. Design him a website for free so he can promote and advertise his business.
You have to be careful with this clients as sometimes it can affect your personal relationships outside of your business ones. Running a business you’re not here to make friends, you’re here to build strong relationships with clients over quality work and mutual respect. You can go out for supper with whomever you want but don’t let it get in the way of doing business.
Don’t Be A Bad Business
We all want to run the best business we possibly can. Seeing some of the keys above can help alleviate stress and problems when you’re first starting out in the web design industry. When you’re first starting out it can be tough as you need the money to pay bills but in most cases if you start taking jobs left and right with no concern on bad clients you’ll find yourself spending way more time and making much less then minimum wage.
As a web designer or internet marketer you want to have clients that are responsive, engaged in the project, are organized and most importantly willing to pay you on time and for the amount you quoted. Once you find these clients be sure to keep in touch with them and try to work with them on a regular basis to show them how much you appreciate working with them.