An issue with a client

Guys, I could really use your advice. Here’s the deal - I am designing an eCommerce website for this client, a very cool guy by the way. It’s my first work of that kind, so I really did my homework, consulting more experienced friends and looking for tips wherever I could find them (yes, I even read about how to start your own eCommerce business, I admit and yes, I take “going the extra mile” way too seriously). Joke aside, all this actually helped and it was going great until Mrs. Client decided to get involved. And I mean really involved. (getting upset just by talking about it) Her suggestions, well not really but rather her demands would lead to the website being unnecessarily and utterly slow and looking like a complete mess. It’s like she’s read the same tips as I did and decided to go for the opposite. I presented her with the facts, but no use. I just know I’ll be getting a lot of calls once the problems start popping up. I’ve never done this before, but should I just suggest they find someone else? Accept the fact that I’ve wasted some time and just save myself from getting upset, in the near future? And it’s not just that, I can’t make myself create something I know won’t work well and get paid for it.

So the wife of your client has gotten involved?
Does she have a stake in the business?

It seems to me she makes the decisions, unfortunately. Ever since she started doing this, he mostly stood there, nodding. This is why I didn’t even try talking to him.

Do you have a contract with this client? If you know there will be problems in the future you could always charge for additional edits/revisions and simply explain, “There will be issues in the future, this is what they will be. The cost to fix these are xyz per hour, with an additional 50$ startup fee.”

This is yet another proof that one cannot see the obvious solution while being really upset. Okay, in a way this comes with experience too, but I should mention that my ignorance played a roll, too. I will definitely consult someone to add something of this type to the pretty basic contract I use. Thank you so much, I knew I would get much-needed help here. I haven’t handled many clients by myself, usually, I team up with this colleague of mine who is much better when it comes to the legal side of things. I didn’t want to bother her now because she is pregnant and has a lot on her plate. Anyway, thank you one more time!

Even with a basic contract, you can usually apply a change order. Don’t know what you’d call this one but maybe somehow frame it as a “change in scope” brought on by the client.

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My contracts always pin down the exact nature of the project and how many revisions are included. Beyond those, the contract specifies an hourly rate of $XXX per hour. I’m flexible about these things with good clients, but when things turn for the worse (as yours has), the client begins paying the penalty.

In addition, when figuring out how much to charge for a job, I’ll usually arrive at a figure, then I’ll add 20–30 percent to it if my gut instincts tell me the client will be a problem to work with. I call it a nuisance fee (of course, I don’t tell the client that).

By the way, getting a spouse, neighbor, receptionist, or nephew involved is one of the classic ways some clients seem to do their best to sabotage the job and ensure they pay extra for the inferior work that comes from it. Anyone freelancing for more than a year or two has a story like yours.


Nothing will mess up a project faster than an “artistic spouse.”

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When starting up, there will be lots of these lessons. One thing we do is break down the cost into 4 installments. A deposit, a design, a development, and a final cost for making final amends/client revisions.

This ensures if the project falls apart we do not loose 100% of the cost as we have been paid for the work carried out at each stage.