Bad Client Series: The Hunter
These are probably the kind of clients you never wish to meet again once you’ve had a previous encounter with them. I call them The Hunters.
If you are an experienced freelancer or business owner, it is very likely you have met a hunter or two.
They usually come off as serious professionals who may very well know what they want. After a few discussions with them, you begin to realize you will be doing a lot of upfront unpaid work before they finally agree to pay you. Yea, that’s right and they will shamelessly take that stance.
Let’s say you’re a graphics designer, the typical hunter will come to you with a request for a logo. You show him your previous works for other clients and try to convince him you can do the job.
He looks over your portfolio and says something in the lines of “These are great but not quite what I’m looking for here. Can you …. ?”. He goes on and on about how you it should look and asks you to help him do some initial designs ( surely for free ) to crystallize his concepts into the logo.
The funny part is, if you’re not careful or naive, you will go ahead to do multiple revisions of the design to get him to move forward with his decision to pay you.
Oh and when you think you’ve finally nailed the design, he brings in another requirement from some cool, trendy logo he probably saw on TV. He drags this on and on as you end up doing more free work and providing him more value than he’s willing to pay for. It’s very unlikely he eventually pays.
Here’s a story of typical hunter …
I worked as an in-house designer for a couple of weeks. After those weeks, the marketing coordinator decided to leave the company and start a coffee shop in her neighborhood. She asked me if I wanted to design her visual identity and collateral. I said yes.
I usually do 3 rounds of revisions until we have something concrete. We agreed on a look, she gave me logos she liked and set up a mood board. So far, so good.
After 2 months of exploration and presentations, she was not liking any of the logos.
I showed her tons of explorations with Coffee + Mid-century modern look. Nothing was pleasing the client.
After my 3rd round of revisions, while I was already defeated, the client went on an online logo builder, designed her own logo and showed it to me.
The logo now had nothing to do with coffee and had diamonds on the background of the type.
Client: See, it’s not that hard. I could do this job.
She decided not to pay me for my services and the time spent on developing good solutions for her business.
I took legal action and got paid, fortunately.
Here is an even bigger hunter …
We are a marketing agency with digital services, graphic arts, translations, etc. I am one of our Founders.
We have been courting a potentially enormous client (as in 7 figure, multi-year contract) for THREE YEARS. These high-level relationships take time to gain trust. So, after three years of talk, a thousand bucks on dinner for his team over time, and after we’ve outlined all our services in plain English, the guy tells me:
Client: We will entertain a commission-based fee only. We don’t pay for activities. We pay for results.
He wanted us to do investor research, write proposals for grants and funding, as well as translate websites and create art. But he was saying that we will only pay us if we actually get him an investor?
C’mon… That’s not how to do things.
I think the best way to avoid the traps of the hunter is to request for an upfront fee or total fee for your services and have a comprehensive contract signed too.
I hope this article helps you.
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