I was creating a website for a local restaurant. The owner needed a new website because the college kid who had created it wasn’t updating it in a timely fashion. That should have been my first clue, but I was just starting to freelance and wanted the job to build my resume.
When I started, she told me that she wanted to be able to make updates to the website herself, so I built it in WordPress and planned to train her when the website was complete.
She sent me the information for her site and I realized that she didn’t own her domain name or hosting. They were all owned by the college kid who was currently doing her website.
Me: You’ll have to get ownership of the domain and the hosting before we can upload the site to your URL.
Client: Okay, I’ll talk to him and get that taken care of.
I started working on building her site, and waited for her to get back to me once she’d done that. One month later she called me, but to complain.
Client: It’s been a month and you haven’t done anything!
Me: Actually, I’ve done quite a lot of work, it’s just not up on the site yet. You don’t own the domain so I can’t upload it.
Client: I can’t see how this is my fault.
That’s not where the headaches stopped. Once the domain wrinkle was ironed out I started to revise her content and when I sent it to her to review.
Client: I don’t have time to “review” your work! Just do it right the first time!
Me: Okay… well, just so I know what you’re looking for in terms of how the website looks, could you send me some samples of what you’d like, with some notes about what you like about them?
She sent me about 10 websites, each completely different from the other. They ranged from fantastic to ‘90s bad, with no indication of what she liked and didn’t like. Finally she sent me the website for Paula Deen’s restaurant, which was of course exactly what she wanted. I used the basic layout and style while adding her brand colors to give her the look and feel I thought she was looking for.
My client had completely redesigned her restaurant, so the photos I had from the old website were obsolete. She didn’t have anyone to take photos so I ended up going to the restaurant to take the photos myself, and I didn’t even charge her for the time. At this point I was so desperate to get her website done I didn’t even care.
When she looked at the website on her computer at one of her restaurants, it wasn’t rendering correctly. Since she couldn’t understand how to take a screenshot to show me, I ended up driving there (fortunately it’s close) and discovered that she had a bootlegged fake version of Windows OS. Of course, she insisted it was really Windows - I’m assuming whoever set up her computers just told her it was what she wanted and gave it to her because it was cheaper.
I finally, finally finished the project and needed to train her to make updates. She decided her son, one of the managers, would get training too. I met them at one of their restaurants because I prefer to train people on their own computers where they are more comfortable. I assumed we would be training in her office, but instead she brought her laptop to the bar and expected me to train them while they waited on customers. Obviously, it was a disaster, and at the end of the session she mentioned it would be great if I could just keep updating the website for her, at which I politely declined.
I sent her the bill. It was what we’d agreed, no more, and was under $1000.
Client: I think you’re charging too much. This isn’t nearly as good as Paula Deen’s site.
Me: Well, Paula Deen was probably able to pay a larger firm thousands of dollars.
Client: Really? I would have thought it would cost $200, tops.
I have never been so happy to be done with a client.