This is a topic that I’ve covered in the past and not only does it fit the Freelance Hire Friday slot but also works for #FlashbackFriday. It’s also a prominent topic in business groups, as the topic isn’t just about hiring freelance bloggers.
As I usually do on a morning with my coffee, I was scrolling through a few business and blogging groups on Facebook. There I saw a post from a blogger who had hired a freelance web designer and lost out on hundreds of dollars. I won’t go into the details of her post, but she didn’t get the work done when she needed it and the freelancer was still holding onto her site.
Reading the comments, it turned out that there was far more to the story. And freelance web designers jumped in to defended the other freelancer. Most websites run behind due to PITA clients.
I have to admit that I’ve had experiences of PITA clients. In fact, I just recently had one! It’s easy to become a PITA without meaning to or without realising. You are paying for the service, so you want the best. But you also need to provide information when it’s needed and communicate with your freelancer, regardless of the tasks you’re outsourcing.
Wait! But what is a PITA client and what do you need to know about one so you can avoid it? Here’s all that freelancers want and need you to know.
A PITA Client Is a Nightmare Client
Freelancers tend to give the nickname PITA to a client who is an absolute nightmare. The PITA stands for “pain in the arse.”
Now freelancers will have different levels of tolerance. Some will find minor issues a PITA, but I’ll share what makes someone a PITA client for me.
- Demanding communication every single hour, on the hour
- Demanding replies within 10 minutes of an email being sent
- Requiring multiple attempts to get even the basic of information
- Requiring multiple attempts to get payment over the course of a month
- Demanding discounts from the beginning
- Talking down to someone or belittling their freelancer for even the slightest error
- Not waiting for explanations
So, what can you do to prevent yourself from being a PITA client? It’s actually really simple and I know that the majority of people reading this will already do it. I’ll share anyway.
Don’t demand that someone messages you with every little detail and within an hour of sending an email.
Freelancers have lives outside of the office. We’re not always going to be at the computer and we do want to spend time with our families. Over the weekend, I’d go as far as waiting until Monday to get a reply. Anything before that is a bonus. That’s the case for me, anyway, as Sunday is the day that I take off from my business.
Demanding instant replies means that a freelancer can’t get on with the work that you set. Think about it: the freelancer is replying to you instead! If you kick off that you don’t get a reply within an hour, you don’t respect the person that you’re outsourcing to. Would you want to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Don’t demand a discount before you even become a client.
Your budget may not allow for the freelancer’s rate, but that doesn’t mean you should demand a discount. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying in bulk or you’re going to send multiple referrals.
The freelancer is running a business. They have a bottom line that they need to make and PITA clients don’t make that easy. In fact, some freelancers charge extra for those who have proven to be an absolute nightmare client.
Demanding a discount sends off red flags for freelancers. They’re more likely to tell you to find someone else.
When I couldn’t afford a freelancer’s budget, I looked at what I wanted again. I shared this earlier this week to discuss at what you could do instead. This shows that you respect the freelancer, value the work, and still want the service.
If you become a loyal client, you may find that the rates are far less than those for new clients in the future. While many businesses give new customer discounts, I tend to give loyal client discounts.
— Lauren Olsen (@Lauren_Ashley_3) November 1, 2013
Don’t talk down to someone.
You may be frustrated and may not understand. You may think that you could do the job better, but that doesn’t mean you have to belittle someone.
This isn’t just being a PITA, but it’s just plain rude. I hear the “free speech” argument all the time when it comes to this, but that isn’t what the “free speech” is for. It’s to allow free reporting without having to stick to a bias set by authorities or a government. “Free speech” doesn’t mean you get to spout off rude remarks to an individual.
When you’re frustrated, take a step back from the computer. Allow yourself to calm down so you can craft your reply.
Whenever I struggle with frustration, I find writing out what I would like to say helps. I do it in a word document and leave it there. Then I craft the more elegant and less rude reply.
Do pay your invoices on time.
There may be issues with accounting or with your PayPal. Don’t wait for the payday to come and go. Be upfront and honest with your freelancer.
This is money your freelancer is likely relying on. Not paying will just lead to cash flow problems for them. They may have to close down their business because of PITA clients. Or they could just take you to court—and I’ve known freelancers do that for even the smallest unpaid invoice to make a point.
Don’t have your freelancer chasing you for the payment. And never make up excuse after excuse with each invoice that comes. One time your freelancer will be understand, especially if you’ve paid past invoices on time. Frequent occurrences and your freelancer will decide they don’t want to work with you again.
By the way, I’ve known freelancers add on late fees to their invoices when a PITA client has proven not to pay on time. And they will push for those late fees to be paid. It’s in your best financial interest to pay on time.
Do reply to emails in a timely fashion.
While I say that you shouldn’t be demanding, there are times that you will need to communicate with your freelancer. There have been times that I’ve had questions about a project and needed clarification before I can work.
A PITA client will ignore questions and then get angry when a project isn’t delivered on time or according to plan. Well, that’s not the freelancers fault, who has likely had to do the project to their understanding. A good client replies to the questions and is open to offering more direction throughout the creation of the project.
You've changed your company name? So doing the logo, website design and buying that domain name was a waste of time then. Nice. #PITAclients
— Piers Chipperfield (@pierschip) September 3, 2012
I had a lovely encounter with a client this week. She asked for something that I hadn’t heard of before and I was honest with that. We actually had a discussion about it to help me create the piece to her needs. When I delivered the project, she was so happy that she sent me an email to thank me. We’re now working together in the future because we both valued and respected each other throughout the project creation process.
It turned out that this is a major problem for the freelance web designers mentioned above. They don’t get the content or information they need from their clients, so can’t complete the work on time.
Do make a list of questions or concerns for regular business meetings.
I like to have regular meetings with my ongoing clients. Each month we’ll schedule a Skype call and discuss the ongoing project or the upcoming work. It’s a great way for us to just spend an hour or so with each other and cover all the questions and problems that we have.
Make a list of all your questions in preparation for your regular business meetings. This helps to keep daily emails to a minimum and will help to make your freelancer more productive. The more time they get to work on the project, the sooner it will be done. The sooner it’s done, the cheaper it will be for you since the freelancer doesn’t have to cover the extra hours.
I don’t say any of this to be a PITA freelancer. I want to create a positive relationship with my clients for both of our sakes. When we can work together well, we can create the best work together and all deadlines are met. Good communication is essential on both sides. Yes there are PITA freelancers, but there are PITA clients, too. I will take steps to avoid being a PITA freelancer if you promise me you won’t be the nightmare client.