It’s not you, it’s them

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It’s been a good three weeks or so since I last blogged about life in the design world. January is always a busy period for the self-employed freelance population as our clients demand more of us in the first few weeks in the year to make up for taking a week or two off over the festive period. Of course we deserve our breaks, and it’s rare that we get them, so when we do we switch emails off and try our best to ignore any contact clients try to make with us. We’re only human. Though we juggle so many things, have multiple plates spinning at one time, there is only so much we as freelancers, and people, can put up with before we begin to burn out.

Naturally the freelance population is probably exhausted beyond words which is why we, at times, take criticism so hard – our emotions are on edge, we’re over worked and we can’t remember the last time we didn’t have a nightmare about missing a deadline. This is true for all freelance professionals – not just designers.

So what happens when you’re fresh from a break, you’re back into the groove of working and all of a sudden your client turns their back on you and changes their mind? This happened very recently and it’s been incredibly frustrating to get my head round. But in the end you learn to take such hardships with a pinch of salt and you develop a thick skin. In the moment you’re irate as you put so much effort in, you’re worried about how much you’ll get paid – if at all – and you begin to question whether you’re actually any good at your job. How do we change this mindset? Here’s how.


Not all relationships are good ones – this applies to the business world as much as it does to your personal life. Some clients are not a good fit. They have different visions or hold their project too close to their chest that they are too restrictive in what they want. If you feel like your client is wearing you down the reality of the situation is that it’s not worth it. This relationship isn’t a good fit and you both have to do what’s best for business, and yourself mentally. If you can get out of the situation, rule a line in the sand and take it as a learning curve. This will remind you that even though the project may have been exciting to work on, there are more important things than dealing with fussy clients when you have a solid client base already.


Sure we’d all love to win the lottery and have instant success, but it doesn’t work that way. When projects fail you may get paid but not the full amount agreed upon. In fact you’ll probably get less than half. This isn’t your fault it’s just the way of business. It’s cruel. To avoid the money situation it’s best to get a contract signed by the parties involved, that way if things do fall through you have legal documentation that says you have to be paid a certain amount regardless of the outcome. Protect yourself and your business.


Clients will make you work for your money. I’m lucky to have a few clients that rarely frustrate me with their briefs or the frequency and demands of their work, and you too are lucky if you have clients that are a joy to work with. But you will always come across clients that make you want to tear your hair out. The ones that don’t know what they want but say that what you’re doing just isn’t working. Don’t take your frustrations out on them, even though, understandably, it would be very easy to. Breathe, go for a walk, hit the gym or shoot some thugs on Grand Theft Auto and release the tension. All work and not play will make you even more frustrated by things.


Never question this. Just because it doesn’t work out doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing – because you do. On this one occassion it wasn’t a good fit. Remind yourself of why you love doing what you do and focus on the positives. It’s easier said than done but not it’s a two way street – not everything can be your fault.

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