And as I sat at the dinner table in my freshly mum-washed clothes and waited for her
to serve me the meal she’d lovingly made, I didn’t really get it.
It took growing up and having to wash my own damn clothes (okay, I lie, she still comes over and does that for me – don’t judge me) and make my own damn dinners (which I promise I actually do) to realise that she was right.
Not everyone will like you.
Not everyone is reasonable.
Life isn’t fair.
And running a business isn’t always a breeze!
… Especially when you have to handle pain-in-the-arse clients who don’t appreciate your genius.
If you have been hanging out with me for a while now, you’ll know that I am all about creating a design business that repels difficult clients.
And while assholes are like taxes (inevitable),
they don’t have to be inevitable in your business.
In fact, for every difficult client you encounter there are probably ten ways you could have stopped them from working with you.
Personally, I haven’t had to deal with a difficult design client for more than five years.
“How, wise one?! HOW?!”
Well, I have a formula.
It’s like mosquito repellent, but for horrible clients. It’s pretty simple.
There are only three steps.
Wanna know what they are?
Keep reading, lady.
THE JERKFACE CLIENTS REPELLENT
Step one: Charge what you’re actually worth and eliminate the time wasters.
You know how you kinda, sorta, definitely feel like you should be earning more?
Spoiler alert: You totally should.
If you’re not 100% happy with your rates, increase them. Immediately.
Not only will this ensure you actually enjoy working in your biz (and feel like a valued creative), but you’ll also repel time wasters and hagglers.
“But Anna, if I increase my rates, nobody will want to work with me!”
Wrong. The penny-pinchers might not want to work with you, but your dream clients will appreciate the hell outta it … and you.
Your price sets your worth.
And lady, you’re worth A LOT.
Step two: Set clear and strong boundaries and expectations from day zero.
Tired of responding to emails at 10pm? Wish you could reclaim your weekends?
I have a revolutionary idea for you: Stop working evenings and weekends.
Make those your boundaries, kindly communicate them in your onboarding docs, put your work hours in your email footer, and then stand by them.
Even if your clients email you at 9pm. Even if they tell you something is urgent … and it’s 5pm on a Friday.
Stand by your boundaries.
You are the boss.
Step three: ONLY work with your ideal client.
Create a document that describes who you DO and DON’T want to work with. Go into detail. Include how you want your clients to make you feel (because, lady, that’s important) and how you want them to treat you.
Then, if a potential client has any of the red flags on your “I don’t want to work with these people” list, turn them down.
“But, Anna – I can’t afford to turn down work!”
Lady, you can’t afford NOT to.
Besides, if you don’t turn it down now, it’ll make your life hell later.
And that spot in your calendar? The one taken up by the time-sucking, life-draining, complaining client? That could have gone to your DREAM client.
It’s a better use of your time to put in the groundwork to begin attracting your dream customers than it is to continue working with jerkfaces who make you want to punch your keyboard.
And that’s it. Formula complete ✅
‘Cause life might not be easy …
But your design biz sure as hell can be.