While freelancers appear to be living the dream to anyone who hasn’t worked for himself, shrewd freelancers know how shark infested the outsourcing waters can be. From managing unrealistic client demands to performing their own collections work, freelancers take on many different roles. And that’s where we get into trouble.
Because we invest so much time and energy into growing our business, it can be difficult to know when it’s in our own best interest to leave a client. If you’re a freelancer, here’s something to help you decide if it’s time to leave a client. Why not add your comments to the discussion below, too?
Budgets are tight these days and many companies have shallow pockets. We’ve all faced the client who waits until the very last moment to pay an invoice. When do you say “enough”? If a client frequently gives excuses for late payments or doesn’t return communication regarding unpaid invoices, it’s probably time to move on. Don’t work for free, you are worth more than that.
Tip: To keep payment issues from getting sticky, ensure you always have a contract signed so you have recourse if you don’t get paid.
Lowering Your Pay
Has a client asked you to take less pay for the same work you’ve been performing for months? A lot of freelancers are tempted to suck it up and take less pay. Before agreeing to take a smaller paycheck, find out if you can renegotiate the work involved to make up the loss in income. You still have bills to pay, so if a client is suggesting they lower your pay, it could be time to look for a job elsewhere.
Expecting More Hours Than What They Pay
Freelancers typically don’t have the luxury of billing for other services like meeting attendance, commuting, administrative, and research hours, but we can build those items into a bid or our hourly rate. If you have a client who wants to conference call every day for an hour and will not allow you to bill for that time, you may need to say goodbye.
Lack of Communication
Because we may not have the benefit of face-to-face meetings, freelancers depend on clear and consistent communication from their clients. When a client fails to share what they need, it’s nearly impossible to deliver a good product. If you find yourself re-doing assignments because of lack of communication, you are performing twice the work and wasting your precious time. If this is the case, it’s probably time to seek out other clients and leave the poor communicator.
Respect requires mutual appreciation and consideration. If you have a client who is not respecting you and your time, it could be time to look for another gig. Clients who lose your work, communicate rudely or not at all, or miss set conference calls aren’t clients you should work for long term.
Don’t overlook the fact that you have to earn a client’s respect by meeting deadlines, being consistent, and providing a quality product or services. But, if you are fulfilling all of your obligations and the client still doesn’t show you the respect you deserve, get out of the arrangement.
Don’t Make a Snap Decision
The main thing to remember when managing your client list is to accept and reject clients based on your best interest. As tempting as it may be to drop a client who is making your life miserable, cover your bases and make sure you’re not going to lose money. Just like traditional employment, don’t leave one client until you have another client lined up to cover that loss of income.
What reasons have caused you to leave a client?
Sarah is the Content Manager and a Writer at Virtual Vocations, the one-stop shop for telecommuters looking for legit jobs. With several years of marketing and writing experience, Sarah also manages a group of freelance writers for a marketing firm. Follow Sarah on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
Stephanie Faris says
I agree with all of these. I had an extremely rude client once that paid well, but also had very high turnover. He was rude and condescending. I believe he came from a newspaper background and maybe editors routinely speak to their journalists that way? Either way, I began to dread opening his e-mails. I’ll never forget–I once started a paragraph with the words, “It goes without saying” and not only did he chew me out for it, he followed up with an e-mail to every writer he works with saying if any of us ever began a sentence with “It goes without saying” again, we’d be fired instantly. After a few months of that, I resigned with the explanation, “This isn’t the right work environment for me.” I believe that said it all!
That’s the good thing about freelancing. If you get a difficult boss, you can fire him! There are plenty of other jobs out there. I’ve also learned if a client pays well but requires multiple revisions, often the pay is actually less than a client who pays less per word but requires no revisions. You also should factor in your own happiness…if someone is making you miserable, even $1,000 an article isn’t worth the pain!