When A Client Doesn’t Follow Professional Advice

You'll encounter different types of clients in your freelance career

When A Client Doesn’t Follow Professional Advice

Melina Druga
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What do you do when a client refuses to follow professional advice? Do you get angry? Do you drop the client? Or is it more complicated than that? You make the call.

Here are three types of clients you might encounter:

The Ultra Picky Short-Term Client

You'll encounter different types of clients in your freelance career
You’ll encounter different types of clients in your freelance career

The short-term client hires a freelancer for a set period of time or for one project.  I’ve had many of these, and the upside is it allows a freelancer to work on many types of projects in a short timeframe.  Also, if a freelancer doesn’t enjoy a project, she will be quickly moving on to the next one.

A client once hired me to write a biography for his website. He provided me with the current version as well as some additional information and his instructions.

When the project was completed, he complained it wasn’t in biography format. There is no such thing as biography format, which I pointed out to him, and in addition, this “format” was not part of his instructions.

He also kept insisting on being called Mister in the biography, even though this hasn’t been standard journalistic practice for most publications for decades. Generally, people are referred to by their full name on first reference and their last name thereafter; although online being referred to by first one’s first name is increasingly becoming the standard.

How did I handle it? Changes were made to the scope of the project after it was completed. I would not make any changes without being paid for the additional work, and the client refused to pay until the changes were made. It was a stalemate that never proceeded further. I made significant changes after this experience to the way I present pricing and quotes to potential clients.

The Stable Long-Term Client

The stable, long-term client is someone a freelancer is contracted to work with for months or even years.  The timeframe of these contracts is often open ended.

A client has been providing me with work for years. I was asked to edit all website copy that had been written by someone else prior to our contract commencing. This was time consuming, and I had a sense of accomplishment when I finished. Later, I went back to the site and discovered two of the paragraphs I had rewritten had been changed back to the original wording. For this client English is a second language, so the changes were noticeable.

How did I handle it? I was mystified – this had never happened before or since – and a little upset because of the time I spent on the project. However, I let it slide because of the otherwise good rapport I have with the client.

The Micromanager

The micromanager tries to control every aspect of a project.

A micromanager I worked with questioned nearly everything I did. She also had a habit of adding sentences and paragraphs into blog posts I’d written. This would be fine – it was her blog after all and my posts were ghostwritten – except her additions were full of grammatical and punctuation errors. It was very easy to tell the posts had two authors.

How did I handle it? To avoid an argument, I did not bring up the topic to my client. Instead, I went and edited the new material after it published to ensure clarity and flow with the rest of the post.

How do you handle a client or customer who refuses to listen?

Updated: 26 June 2018

Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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