Three Tips for Freelancers to Walk Away From Their Worst Client

Calling all freelancers! If you are dealing with some clients who are a bit demanding, challenging or toxic, it sounds like it’s time to move on.

In a Brazen Careerist post, freelance blogger Abby Hayes writes, “Unfortunately, many freelancers are reluctant to break up with clients—no matter how low their pay or ridiculous their demands. After all, they’re helping you pay your bills, right?”

Well, let’s be truthful to ourselves here. An awful client is an awful client and you need to trust that when you cut your losses a better client will come along.

1. Identify your worst client. For starters, Hayes points out you should identify the client that pays the worst or is incredibly demanding. Do they ask you to write four revisions on the same piece? Do they suck the creativity out of you? Are they disrespectful? Your definition of a bad client may be different from someone else’s definition.

The difficult revelation you may discover is working with more than one negative client. Hayes adds, “If your freelance budget is uncomfortably tight, dropping all your bad clients at once may not be the best idea. So just start with the worst one.”

2. Set your terms and then write a professional e-mail. If you think the relationship can be salvaged, by all means go for it. State what you want to change such as the pay, type of work (perhaps suggest a retainer), the works. Negotiate from there.

If they’re your absolute worst client and you want to move on as quickly as possible, skip the negotiations and write a polite e-mail. Here’s her recommended sample:

Dear Terrible Client,

Due to a change of direction in my freelancing business, I am no longer able to continue working for Terrible Client, Inc.

I can continue to work on current projects through (date two weeks or more in the future) or until you find a replacement.

This wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one I need to make for my business right now. I’ve enjoyed working with you, and wish you the best of luck in the future.

Thank you,

Awesome Freelancer

3. Move on. Sounds simple enough, right? You’ve sent that message and perhaps tried to negotiate but to no avail. Remain firm. Don’t burn any bridges but don’t feel obligated to explain your decision.

If they eventually would have to cut back on freelancers, they would succinctly inform you without elaborate explanations as well. They would probably be polite, professional and firm in their decision.

Her advice? Get over it quickly. “Once the breakup is over, it’s time to move on. No crying jags and ice cream binges for you! Get out there and start marketing your services so you can find a great new client to replace the one you just offloaded.”

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