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I currently work for a low-paying, arrogant local client who does give me a decent amount of work, but all are under-paid.

The client has a habit of bargaining and complaining. If I ask him for more price (a FAIR price for myself), he will start to bargain so much that it gets uncomfortable, but I end up landing at a price that doesn't fit my needs. He asks me to do a set of work, and when I am done finishing, he will come up with some "mistakes" and then ask me to re-do it.

For instance. I design social sharing graphics (like WhatsApp story or Facebook post graphics) for him, and he pays me only 2 USD for each graphics. And he will send me wrong information, or incomplete information, which he will ask me to correct again and again. And I end up doing more than 3–4 revisions for his lack of information or correctness in that information.

BUT, if I end being a part of a minor mistake, such as a minor communication gap (because of faults from both ends) that shouldn't be a big issue, he starts to criticize and complain about it so badly that I feel disrespected and insulted. He makes it appear as if it is all my fault, and more than that. He gets very aggressive and starts venting at me.

I am pretty tired of dealing with him. Firstly, because I am not looking for "more work", but I am looking for a well-paying client who pays me both the money and the respect for the work that I do for him. I am looking for a client with whom I can build a healthy, long-lasting professional relationship that can satisfy me as well, as a professional.

I kind of think that this particular client won't be able to fulfil that. He is also not very courteous. Sometimes he will only pay me the money, but won't give me any feedback, not even a word or two, even if I chase continuously for feedback so that I may know if I am moving in the right direction, and how he likes the work.

And everytime, he will make himself appear like a "super busy" VIP person. He doesn't communicate thoroughly enough so that I understand his requirements clearly. Only one or two statements about the work, and most communication is through WhatsApp. He hates emails, and orders me to WhatsApp him because he is "too busy to check emails".

He writes only one or two sentences regarding any new work. Most of the time, I have to make "assumptions" as to what work he "might require". The clarity in communication is that bad from his side.

He does give me decent amount of work, but I end up earning terribly bad, and I also get criticized awfully for a mistake that happens like once in every hundred situations.

I want to either raise my standards and ask him for higher price for each work, or I want to end the relationship with him. How do I deal with him, and let him know of the changes in our relationship in a professional way, so that it does not affect my career being an independent professional?

Thank you so much for your valuable time and advice.

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It is important to always be looking for new clients. We can never know when a client will disappear, go out of business, or be bought by someone who has someone else to do your work. We do best when we have multiple clients and are not dependent on one client.

When I first start a new line of work, offer a new product or service, I expect that the first clients that come do not want to pay a reasonable price for what I do. The reason is that the people who are always looking have destroyed their relationships with previous providers. They act like you describe.

By constantly looking, I find other clients and can be "too busy" to do work for clients I don't like working with.

A good client is one that:

  1. knows they have a problem and wants your solution.
  2. has the money to spend to fix their problem.
  3. has the willingness to spend that money with you.

Often, the last criteria is the most important.

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Fixing an unsatisfactory client relationship is generally the freelancer's responsibility. Upon failure, the only real option is to end the relationship.

A plan to move forward could be scheduling a meeting with the client where the working process is discussed. Make it crystal clear that significant changes MUST be made for the working relationship to continue.

When specifying the changes, remember to point out how the client will also benefit; e.g. better requirements will lead to faster delivery, less iterations and so on.

In addition, it seems you have a fixed price arrangement. If so, this should be changed to an hourly rate, as that changes the entire dynamic. Fixed price invariably leads to arguments over when something is actually done as the client will attempt to extract as much work as possible, whereas an hourly rate will make the client evaluate whether a desired change is worth the extra money.

If the client refuses to even have the meeting or generally rejects changes, end the relationship as professionally as possible and walk away. If they come back later, take more charge of the working process so both parties know what's expected of each other.

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