Every professional out there in any given field has had that client who is just too much. What do we mean when we say that? It’s that client who is not just overly demanding, but unimpressed and never satisfied no matter how much work, time and resources go into their project. For photographers, this can happen quite often. Resource Magazine’s own Aurelie Jezequel agrees pointing out that “As a freelancer, you want the job and your first instinct is to say yes to every phone call you receive. After a few experiences with clients like this, you learn to say no and say that you are booked already.”
On his blog, Michael Hyatt identifies three solid reasons why you can’t afford that high maintenance client. They’re draining. They’re persuasive. Most importantly of all, they’re aggravating! Beyond the psychological issues that plague these narcissistic types, they still believe that you should be dedicating your life to them no matter how unreasonable that preposition may be. “There a few warning signs from the first conversation you have with them,” says Aurelie, “You can see if they have really unrealistic expectations. Like if they have a really big shoot and only have a $20,000 budget. You as the producer or photographer know that you need three times that much to make it work. There is no way you can make it work with their budget and if they’re not flexible, then its better for you to just pass on the job rather than going crazy trying to make it work.”
Truth is, there are a number of different ways in which we can deal with high maintenance clients, the first being open about expectations and making a judgment call based on that. “You need to be really clear with your clients communication is really important with every job and when you put together your budget and proposal, you need to really define and explain every expense so they don’t question the budget.” Your career is important to you and you may feel that you ‘need’ this big client. That is simply not the case. What is most important here is conducting your self in a professional matter. It is possible to ask your potential client about their expectations and being honest about being able to meet them. In such a case, you can avoid a situation where you are going into a working relationship with a client blind.
Say that you find yourself in a place where you are past that stage, or even you were careful in managing the expectations of the client beforehand and still things aren’t working out. At this point, it is valuable for you to evaluate what is being gained from the client as opposed to what is being lost. Could you be dedicating more time to other clients who will appreciate your work? Don’t be afraid to cut ties with a client if you are overextending yourself. Try not to harbor resentment. Just be honest about the situation.
There are always other clients out there who will be willing to pay for your services. The trick is to be able to know the difference between plain old hard work from a client who just expects way too much of you.