Your job as a professional is to ensure the project goes smoothly.

There’s No Such Thing as Clients From Hell

Yesterday, we talked about how to get higher paying clients. The foundation of this is professionalism. If you want to work with clients who are enjoyable to work with and are willing to follow your process and compensate you accordingly, you need to conduct yourself as a professional.

Most people want to be treated with respect and revered for their expertise, but they don’t want to bear the significant responsibility that comes along with the title.

A professional seeks to acquire responsibility. A novice looks to blame others for any and all faults, but as a professional, you set the expectations. If a problem occurs you should have been the one to prevent it preemptively.

Every problem that occurs is the professional’s responsibility.

Your job as a professional is to ensure that the project goes completely smoothly. A professional never blames, he or she always takes account.

If there is a problem, a professional makes note of it and works to prevent it from happening in the future. At any given moment during the project your responsibility is to audit yourself and audit every step of the process.

  • If the client sends over copy or new goals in the middle of the project, that is your fault. You should have set proper expectations.
  • If the client does not pay on time, that is your fault. You should have set the terms at the beginning of the project.
  • If the client expects free revisions, that is your fault. You should have thoroughly explained the process in the preliminary discussions.

If any problem occurs, if any issue arises, or if the client is being terrible, guess who’s fault that is? It’s your fault. It’s your fault as the professional.

You set the expectations. It is your duty to preempt and prevent every possible problem. The novice and the amateur will complain that this is too difficult or that it’s impossible. The professional sees it as his or her obligation to embrace a constant state of improvement.

Your sole job is constant improvement and effectiveness. There’s no magic point you reach where you’re able to be selective with clients. You’re able to be selective with clients the moment you decide to practice selectivity.

No one can be a client unless you take them on. To be a client is to be granted a privilege. As a professional, you are the one to grant that privilege. You are the one to make someone a client. If you do not take them on, they can not be a client.

There is no such thing as clients from hell because only a professional from hell would take them on as a client.

Every client from hell is a professional’s responsibility.

To be revered and sought-after as a professional, you must understand that this respect is due wholly in part to the responsibility you must hold. Every problem that occurs is your responsibility as a professional.

You do not have the privilege of referring to anyone as a client from hell without incriminating yourself.

Professionalism is a journey. It is not a state of arrival. You are a professional the moment you choose to embark on this journey. It is the direction you are heading in and it is a responsibility you take on voluntarily.

It is when you understand the weight of this responsibility that you earn the right to work with good clients. It is when you understand that every problem that occurs is your fault that you can focus your energy on doing your best work and not complaining about clients that you failed to vet effectively.


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