To be perfectly clear, most of the “bad clients” web designers encounter are a result of our own failure. As a designer, part of our job is to educate clients on the product they need and the design decisions we make. If you cannot clearly explain every step of your work, do not fault the client for not understanding.

All that out of the way, yes, you will occasionally run into bad clients. With any luck, you’ll notice early warning signs during initial discussions and can politely decline the project. Other times, you’ll see these signs too late or convince yourself that the job is worth the risk. Big mistake. Along with the stress, a headache project causes you to lose:

Money. Bad clients come in all forms but they’re typically the ones who undervalue your work and try to nickel and dime you to death. Adding insult to injury, you may also have to pass on better work while you’re committed to dealing with a bad client.

Motivation. Bad clients suck the passion out of your career. They make you dread each morning you devote time to their project and, often, you’re not proud of the final result.

Minutes. Time is the most valuable commodity of all. Don’t spend a single minute more than you have to dealing with a bad client.

So let’s say it happened, you agreed to a new project and it turns out to be a nightmare. What next? If there’s no way to gracefully back out, you can either push through the project or offer the client a full refund. Understand that your reputation is attached to either decision and remaining professional is top priority. If you decide to move forward with the job, do it well and don’t cut corners. The client might not appreciate the effort you put in but others who see it may.

In all honesty, sometimes a bad client is exactly the kick in the pants we need to break out of a stagnant routine. Let difficult workdays motivate you toward new and better opportunities.