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How to Get Rid of Difficult Clients Once And for All

Today, I'd like to introduce you to combat juggling—my latest obsession in the world of "insane sports Akash wants to become a world champion at for no reason."

Combat juggling involves at least two jugglers going against each other - each with 3 pins. The goal? Simply interrupt your opponent's flow by attacking or stealing their pins to make them unable to juggle.

Look at that twirl

While I can't juggle at all, I'll be spending all day every day from now on learning so that I may be the combat juggling champion of the world. I swear, it's going to be worth it.

Well, okay, while becoming a pro-level combat juggler may not be worthwhile, what's even less worth our time and effort is dealing with difficult clients.

Most of us have dealt with them, and in this article, I want to dive in to how to prevent them from working with us in the first place.

But first, let's reiterate about what a difficult client even is

To be clear, I'm not talking about clients who just don't have a budget. Not every client you encounter will be able to pay your full rate, and that can be totally fine depending on where you're at in your career, and what kind of work you're looking to do.

No, a truly difficult client is a client who demands everything. Countless revisions, crazy timelines, and all for a rate that couldn't possibly count as fair. They'll ping you on weekends and holidays, demanding a lightning-quick turnaround. It's not about price, but about the demands placed on you for the price. The project is often hell, and you often don't have much to show for it at the end - least of all an income.

And these sorts of clients show up at every stage of our careers

No matter how much work you're doing in game audio, you'll always have these kinds of clients show up.

They can be hard to spot at first, and often, they sneak into our lives without us even noticing. It's only after a few weeks of working with them do we realize that we've bagged ourself a client that is making our lives terrible.

And the best way to stop this hell-scenario

Is to ask your clients questions. Lots of them. Before you start working together. This is a process that is called a "Discovery Call", and is something I teach all of my Game Industry Pro online course students to do.

If someone is interested in working with you, get on a quick, 10-15 minute call (yes, an actual call - don't do this over email or DMs!) with them, and ask them questions like:

  1. What are your expectations for the audio of the project? [If they expect the world, be sure to temper their expectations]

  2. What's the deadline for the audio? [If it's really unclear, or an extremely short timeline, warn them that that could cause issues]

  3. How do you like to give feedback? [If they tell you that they want to be in 'constant communication' that means they're micromanagers. Set boundaries on your time/communication ASAP!]

  4. Will it be just you giving feedback, or is the whole team involved? [You ideally want one person being the final decider of who gives you feedback, otherwise you'll get contradicting feedback from multiple team members]

  5. If the work goes over what we've talked about, will we be able to increase compensation? [The answer won't always be yes, but planting the seed that you can't just work with them forever for no extra money]

Setting these sorts of expectations and boundaries early will save you a world of issues later on. Sometimes, a client will give you huge red flags and tell you straight up that they want a Star Wars-level soundtrack for $10 - to be delivered on Christmas Day.

In those cases, just walk away.

There's loads more you should ask during a discovery call

But we'll cover that in future articles! If nothing else, knowing even a little bit on how to filter out difficult clients will put you in a far better career spot than many other freelancers out there.

Let's go over what we covered today!

  1. A difficult client is far worse than a client without a ton of money. A truly difficult client expects the world, and is willing to pay for nothing.

  2. These sorts of clients show up no matter how advanced in our career we are.

  3. The way we avoid them is to ask questions before we start working with them during a discovery call. We can weed them out pretty easily that way!

  4. If I mysteriously vanish, it's because I'm now a juggling champion.

So, while becoming a full-time combat juggler may be tough

What's even tougher is working with difficult clients. If we can get our potential clients on discovery calls, and practice asking good questions, we can avoid them forever more.


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