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Breaking Up With Clients - Getting Dumped & Dealing With Criticism

9:27 AMKathryn Curling


I'm writing this post from a strange place emotionally. I read a negative comment about my work this morning from a previous design client of mine. *insert womp womp womp sound* It hurt guys. Though it wasn't a personal attack or anything really even all that bad, it still hit me where it hurts the most. Long story short, a few months ago, a long time client of mine decided to work with a new designer that could offer them more of what they were wanting for the future of their business. No big deal, it happens. Goals change, and often you just aren't compatible anymore.

I follow their Facebook page and so I happened to see a post mentioning negative comments about my work for them. It stung. Behind my purple hair, goofy facial expressions and sarcastic humor, I am very insecure when it comes to criticism in any aspect of my life. This had me getting caught up in self doubt, sadness, anger and ultimately made me want to throw the towel in and be done with it all.

After I calmed myself, lol, I made myself accept the fact that no matter what you do, you CAN NOT and WILL NOT make everyone happy all the time or be everyone's cup of tea. And though your business and work may be incredibly personal to you, especially in the creative field, it is not a personal attack on you when a business relationship ends.  When your style, aesthetic and tastes no longer fit a client, it is time to move on and break up. And just like any personal break up it can hurt.

All you can do is step back and access what went wrong, if it could have been prevented, what you would have done differently, and how to grow from the situation. Or if they're the clingy, stalker ex type just run! lol This opened my eyes even more to the fact that I want to only take on my dream clients. I want to work with clients who look at my portfolio and say "This designer knows exactly what we want!"

How do you deal with criticism or negativity? Whether it be at your day job, freelance business or even handmade business? Have you ever had to break up with a client or been dumped? I love this post by Breanna Rose about Managing Feedback . It was exactly what I needed to read. Also, this hand lettered quote by Mark van Leeuwen is perfection. He's only a teenager and he's a fantastic designer / artist.


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9 comments

  1. Oh Kathryn, that's horrible. I'm so sorry. It's particularly hard not to take personal as that was exposed on social media. Do fellow designers ever have like a kinship with each other? Hopefully their current designer noticed. If I was a designer, I wouldn't work for them considering how they treated you. I haven't encountered harsh criticism yet with my Etsy business but oddly enough my best friend was bashing some of my work as I was posting it. She didn't realize that it hurt my feeling because she is so used to consuming culture and being opinionated versus creating something. It takes alot to be a creator of anything. As my mom says "It is easier to criticize than it is to create. Strive to be a creator instead of a critic."

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Marg! I'm sorry you had to deal with that from someone you should be able to trust. Negative feedback whether from a friend or stranger hurts for sure! I for one thing your wreaths are adorable. I LOVE the black owl one! I couldn't agree with that quote more! Your mom sounds like a wise lady!

      It is so easy to criticize! And more often than not, people who criticize are uneducated in that field. In the end though, its all a matter of opinion. Thanks for reading! Good luck with your shop!

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    2. Awww, thanks lady!! You keep doing you and you will get those dream clients!

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  2. I'm exactly like you and most people don't know I'm really insecure. Critism just cuts me to the core! Especially now that I'm stepping out and going after some life long dreams. Learning to shake it off!

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    1. Its hard when you put yourself out there and get critiqued. I imagine that over times it get's easier to deal with... I hope at least! lol

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  3. Baby, all you can do is try and learn from this experience and move on down the road. You're right that you won't make everyone happy and that you recognize/accept that fact is just moving through the uncomfortableness. Do you and don't worry about the rest. You're rockin' it!

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    1. Thanks Patti! I needed that! I do gotta do me and not look back!

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  4. Wow, it's one thing to end a business relationship, but to advertise it to the world? Unless you were really screwing them over, I don't see a need to slander your business. I have several small businesses, an I work with all sorts of people. It really made me want to quite working with clients on a personal level. That's one reason why I'm trying to do ecommerce now, so that I am not tied to one customer but many customers.

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    1. You definitely have to separate personal feelings when your doing this kind of work. I've learned that the hard way. Its made me want to quit at times as well. How are you liking doing e-commerce? I've always wanted to dip my toes in the water but the opportunity hasn't presented myself. Maybe I'll try it out myself with my own shop.

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