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5 Ways Animators Can Deal with Difficult Clients

ben marvazi 2020

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As a freelance animator building your portfolio and clientele, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across difficult clients who make it nearly impossible to complete your animated video projects. 

It’s important to do what you can to keep your animation clients happy, but sometimes it isn’t always easy to do so when your motivation is drained by constant criticism or being told to make changes to your projects all the time.

Many a time, these tensions that arise between you and your animation client can be easily resolved or prevented. 

You should approach this situation with an open mind and try to understand your client’s perspective. Keeping your cool goes a long way as a freelance animator or animation business owner.

If you are having trouble with clients bringing you down, here are 5 ways to deal with difficult animation clients.

1. Maintain Good Communication when Dealing with Difficult Clients in Animation

man saying "communication is key" when dealing with difficult animation clients

GIF by Grownish via GIPHY

When working with a new animation client, it is important that you set clear expectations early on. Communication is key, and a lack of it will result in uncertainties that lead to miscommunications and conflict later on.

To avoid this, it is important to keep in contact with your client throughout your animation project. Updating your client on the progress of the project will make them feel more confident in you and your animation work. 

Make sure to ask your animation client what their preferred means of communication is as some may prefer emails whereas others would like to be contacted via a phone or video call.

What you say to your client is just as important as how you say it, so pay attention to their language and try to emulate that when communicating with them. 

You should use simple terms and avoid animation jargon when communicating with your animation client to avoid confusion. 

Remember that you’re the expert, so you should be able to get things across to them in the least complicated way.

2. Set Clear Expectations when Dealing with Difficult Clients as an Animator

a man saying "those are the rules" as you set clear expectations with difficult animation clients

GIF by abcnetwork via GIPHY

Make sure your animation proposal is clear and concise, defining exactly what your goals, deadlines, and deliverables will be.

By setting clear expectations in writing, it will be much easier to reach your goals and objectives without delay or working overtime. This will also eliminate any confusion later on and set the tone for your relationship with your animation client throughout the project. 

Remember that it is okay to set limitations on a project. You can do so by offering two or more rounds of revisions on an animated video project. 

This can ensure that there is a solution that your client is happy with. Keep in mind that most animation clients are understanding as long as it is communicated ahead of time.

3. Write Up A Contract for Difficult Clients in Animation

a client and animator signing a contract


Many freelance animators forget this important step. Sometimes difficult animation may end up adding additional features or requirements that go beyond the agreed-upon scope.

To prevent scope creep, it’s important to acknowledge in writing what is expected of both you and the animation client.

A contract helps to confirm that everyone is on the same page, so if a client pushes their luck and demands more than what the scope calls for, you can easily refer back to the contract as a reminder of what was agreed upon.

Without a contract to back you up, you could run into other issues such as budget reductions, deadline changes, and no compensation for your time or pay.

4. Remain Calm and Collected when Dealing with Difficult Clients as an Animator

a man saying "i can keep it professional sometimes" as he remains calm when dealing with difficult animation clients


It’s easy for us to allow our emotions to get the better of us when dealing with difficult clients. This is especially true when these clients offend you or your hard work.

It’s okay if you become frustrated - you’re human after all! However, you should try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Difficult clients are inevitable, and the more experience you get in the animation industry, the easier it will become to handle these clients when they’re being overly critical or indecisive.

You should always keep in mind that the client approached you for your expertise, so it is within your best interest to remain calm and make every client interaction as smooth as possible.

Remaining calm keeps the situation from escalating. When interacting with a difficult client, be mindful of your emotions and make the conscious decision to keep the present situation from stressing you out.

If you feel like you’ll lose your cool, try to remember that your professionalism is on the line, but this isn’t to say that you should allow your client to walk all over you.

If you feel like you’ve tried your best to maintain a positive relationship with your client but you’re still being unnecessarily disrespected, tell them as politely as possible that you don’t appreciate it. 

5. Letting Go Of Difficult Clients in Animation

a man saying "i think we just let this one go" as you let go of difficult clients in animation

GIF by fallontonight via GIPHY

Sometimes, you may need to take a step back to decide whether it is worth continuing to work with a difficult client.

If you find that effective communication, writing up the scope and contract, and remaining calm hasn’t helped the situation, you might have to make the decision whether you should let go of the client.

Letting go of any client isn’t an easy decision to make and should be a last resort. Sometimes, a client may be challenging, but the work is interesting and fulfilling, and they typically pay on time.

It’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of working with a difficult client to determine if you should end the contract and relationship.

Going back to the first point, having an open and honest conversation with your client should suffice, as they may not realize they’re being difficult or asking for too much.

As much as you may be tempted to just cut them off, perhaps a misunderstanding had arisen at some point. You should always make your clients feel heard by acknowledging their feelings as well.

Let them know that you value their thoughts on the animated project, and apologize for any negative experiences.

At the end of the day, if neither you nor the client is happy and you decide to fire them, it’s important that you always remain calm and professional so that the relationship doesn’t end on bad terms.

Don’t play the blame game or offend them, even if you’re angry or resentful. Your personal feelings matter, but they have no place in your animation business. 

Always think of the bigger picture and put your success and reputation first.

5 Ways in Dealing with Difficult Clients as an Animator

Dealing with difficult clients is inevitable. It means your animation business is growing, but as you gain more experience in the industry, handling these clients will become easier to do.

  • Maintaining Good Communication: Setting clear expectations early on will avoid uncertainties later. Keep in contact with your client throughout your animation project and make sure to use their preferred means of communication. Emulating their language and using simple terms when communicating with them makes things easier for everyone.
  • Set Rules Upfront / Set Clear Expectations: Have a clear project scope to define exactly what your goals, deadlines, and deliverables will be. Setting clear expectations in writing makes it easier to reach your goals and will eliminate confusion later on.
  • Write Up A Contract: Having a legal document to back you up can prevent your animation client from scope creeping. The contract confirms everyone is on the same page.
  • Commit To Professionalism / Remain Calm and Collected: Take a step back and look at the bigger picture before losing your cool. Keep in mind that the client approached you for your expertise, so it’s within your best interest to remain calm and keep the situation from escalating. 
  • Letting Go Of A Difficult Client: Evaluate whether it is worth continuing to work with a difficult client. If the above steps haven’t helped your situation, you may want to consider whether to fire the client or not. 

For more tips on how to develop your business skills as a freelance animator, we suggest you watch our free masterclass and download a copy of our free marketing handbook

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