If you’ve freelanced for any amount of time you may have considered firing a client at some point. It sounds harsh and scary, I mean…you’ve worked so hard to land these clients! And now you’re thinking about firing them? Isn’t that a bit ungrateful?
Firing a client
Truth is, sometimes it’s not a good fit.
Here is a story to put this type of situation in context. A few weeks ago a fellow freelancer contacted me. She said, “Have you ever quit a client? I am seriously considering it and I am having trouble finding wisdom!”
Of course, I was happy to talk it out. This isn’t an easy decision to make. Because you want it to work! Or you feel guilty because you thought it was a good fit but now that you’re a few months in you can tell it’s not. It’s OK, this happens.
My friend said the work just wasn’t what she thought it was. The way her clients assigned, reviewed and approved work felt to her like someone was always watching over her shoulder and tweaking her work over and over until it no longer resembled something she would have created. This didn’t work for her.
She knew she couldn’t continue like this, no amount of sucking it up was going to fix it. So she wondered if she should fire her client and make a clean break or if she should offer feedback and see if they were willing to change their processes.
How much did she want to keep this client?
No matter what she decided, she knew she had to make a change. When a freelancing situation goes a bit sour it can make you feel inept and underpaid. It’s frustrating and tricky and when this happens it’s definitely time to consider firing a client or two.
If you are in a place where you feel like your client isn’t a good fit it doesn’t mean you’re being a diva. It may just mean you’re becoming clear on what kind of freelancer you want to be. Sometimes the right decision is a polite yet clear discussion about the situation and finding a workable solution. And sometimes the right decision is referring the client to a different freelancer and moving on.
Blogger turned copywriter
Sometimes you outgrow the relationship or go different directions.
One of my first regular clients was my DREAM COME TRUE. I was tasked with tackling DIY projects with a bent towards upcycling and then writing a blog post about it. I loved DIY and upcycling and I couldn’t have asked for a better freelance writing gig.
Things went well for quite a while and I enjoyed the different projects I got to work on. But as my writing improved and my career progressed, I found myself less and less engaged. The projects were time intensive and the pay was low. While I was fine with this when I was first getting started after a few years it didn’t make sense anymore. Plus my other freelance writing clients were not in the DIY/crafting space so my portfolio was moving further and further away from this niche.
The big sign that it was time to move on was the sense of dread I felt whenever a deadline loomed. I no longer scoured Pinterest looking for new and exciting projects to try. Now I looked for projects I could do in an hour or less composed of materials I already had on hand.
When I took an honest look at the writing projects I had on my plate and how they made me feel, I realized I had outgrown this client, my heart was no longer in it and it was time to move on.
Freelance writing opportunities
Sometimes your current clients are holding you back from your ideal clients.
Even if your client is a decent fit and you enjoy the work there may still be a case for firing a client. I learned this when I worked with business writing coach Ed Gandia.
The problem he was helping me solve was increasing my freelance writing revenue without taking on additional clients. Because I work a day job and have limited time available for freelancing, I had no other option but to raise my rates!
Ed challenged me to go for better-paying clients and as I landed them to let go of my bottom 20 per cent of clients.
This was a big move for me and definitely brought my insecurity to the forefront. In order to charge more you have to believe you’re worth higher fees. And you have to figure out strategies to state your fees with confidence and not buckle when prospects tell you you’re too expensive. Terrifying!
How did I finally get on board?
I started valuing my time better. I only have a few hours a week I can spend on freelancing so the work I do and the projects I take on have to be worth it. Working on my freelance business means time not doing other things, for example hanging out with my husband. So I needed to come to terms with a rate that I can feel confident about my choices/priorities.
And part of that coming to terms included identifying which clients were in my bottom 20 per cent and learning how to let them go as I landed better-paying ones.
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