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A Frustrating Trend in Vendor-Client Relationship

Here’s a fun video that was thrown in a forum by a number of frustrated designers. Myself, though not an artist but a consultant, I do understand their frustrations. In this tough economy, many firms are not hiring and rather outsourcing for small projects and piecemeal work. Many artists are looking to find and juggle a number of small projects and contract work to stay afloat. For this reason, piecemeal work should expect a higher hourly remuneration than for ongoing work. But often many clients are small business owners or entrepreneurs with little resources.

Some clients’ expectations can be outlandish, and even insulting. They simply want something that they can’t do, but they want it done for less than what they can afford or willing to pay. But it’s not always the client at fault, in some cases, they end up overpaying for shoddy work.

Likewise, many designers are complaining that they are being stiffed by clients refusing to acknowledge the amount of time and work contributed to the finished product and compensating them accordingly. Many of whom, are ditching freelance work because of this. Not to mention, freelance work requires a great deal of effort and as well as marketing and salesmanship.

So, how can both clients and freelance designers avoid this problem alike?

For clients

Be realistic. If you want to build a social networking site, be prepared to pay for it. Why are you building an e-commerce site or a online community? Well, the obvious answer is to provide utility and/or to generate profits. Then be prepared to compensate the developer for their work. Building an online business is equivalent to purchasing a store. It comes with a price tag. In addition, be prepared to take a hit if the business doesn’t work out. Entrepreneurship is a gamble.

Some clients do not appreciate or understand the amount of training and hours devoted to development or design work. Working in front of a computer can suck one in a time warp. Hours can seem like minutes. In addition, you have to have a passion for technology and constant learning. Technology is constantly changing. Newer products and versions often roll out in a matter of months. Keeping up with technology is also very expensive.

And please don’t ask a designer or developer to tutor or show you how they do their job. If you really don’t want to pay someone else to build your e-business or portal, then devote your own time (in years) and money (in the thousands) to learn the field and build your own from the ground up.

But many clients are simply just looking for a good designer and developer. What is a good way to find a contractor that will best suit the project? Talk to a few designers/developers and check out their portfolios. You should be looking for design styles that will match your business (is it flashy and animated or mature and business-oriented?); their work ethics will be evident through ongoing work (are their designs often one-offs or do these clients come back for additional work?).

Most importantly, get to know your designer. Chances are, you will need them to maintain your site. Are they reliable, professional, trustworthy, respect confidentiality? Can you or do you want to work with them long-term? Because they are an integral part of your online business, you are looking for a partner whom you can trust and depend on.


I often find a lot of clients looking to hire or utilize students and new grads to produce design works for considerably little pay. Like literally a couple of bucks above minimum wage. This relationship usually doesn’t work out. Both sides often end up frustrated. The result is often of dissatisfaction for either or both parties. In many instances, the relationship dissolves usually after the first draft. New grads and interns need to work in environments that provide proper training. Unless your business can provide that, don’t expect a newb to perform like a professional; if they can already do that, they wouldn’t be working for minimum wage.

For developers/designers

First of all, communication is key. Know what your clients want and need. Don’t accept the contract unless you know you can deliver what they want. Many contractors will agree to a client’s demand and expectations just to get the contract, which result in disappointment for both sides. Clients often ask for a Master-of-all-trades, as oppose to a defined expert. They expect a designer, a developer, a content creator, a programmer, and a marketer all rolled into one. Define your area of expertise and explain to them why your skills are relevant to their project.

Most of the disagreements between contractors and clients are often due to lack of communication. Keep your client posted on every phase of development. Talk to them regularly for feedback to ensure you’re both on the same page. It’s ultimately their project, not yours. Don’t isolate yourself till you complete the product or project. Chances are, your clients will not accept the first thing you present to them; so hold back on attaching an invoice with it.

Your work is not perceived by its rate but by its quality. When you deliver a quality job, your clients will gladly pay you what you’re worth along with a testimonial. That said, make yourself affordable! Or at least give your favourite clients a break here and there. Everyone loves a discount every now and then. Your final product is not only the job you’ve done for them, but also the business relationship you’ve forged with them.

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  1. IzzyP

    June 19, 2009

    Soooo true!!!!!!! Especially the last bit.... they ask you to show them how you do your job!! Like WTF?????

  2. Juno

    June 19, 2009

    Amen to that!

  3. Sarah

    June 23, 2009

    Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. In any case
    I'll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

  4. machine

    June 25, 2009

    Loved your latest post, by the way.

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