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How to protect yourself from troublesome clients

Not all clients are good at communicating. In the latest installment of our clients from hell mini-series, Denmark-based graphic designer Maria Grønlund (opens in new tab) offers sage advice on how to deal with clients who don't respond and their nightmare cousins – clients who don't know when to give you the space to work…

What do you do when clients don't respond to your emails?

Don't assume anything! There can be numerous reasons why a client stops returning messages in the middle of a project. Don't take it personally – take it like a professional. Send a kind email saying that you hope everything is well when you ask them for a status update on the situation.

What advice would you give for dealing with unresponsive clients?

The best thing you can do is take precautions in the agreement that you and your client sign before you start the design process. Set a time limit on the project. If the client doesn't keep his or her part of the arrangement within the agreed period, you can send the final invoice when the time limit runs out.

Conversely, what should you do with a client who contacts you too much?

Plan the process before you start the assignment and make it a part of the written agreement both you and your client sign. There should be a design period when you work on the project undisturbed. There should also be a review period when the client is free to contact you with any revisions and feedback.

What if the client doesn't follow the pre-agreed steps?

If the client doesn't respect this, kindly but firmly refer back to the plan you've both agreed. It's really important to keep communication positive. Write things like: "I look forward to getting back to you in a week as discussed."

Words: Bryce Bladon (opens in new tab)
Illustration: I Speak Fluid Colours (opens in new tab) by Maria Grønlund

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