How to Handle Frustrating Freelance Clients

Freelancing Advice / Friday, January 5th, 2018

There’s no escaping it – you will eventually find yourself inundated with frustrating freelance clients.

In these situations, you need to make an educated decision that benefits your career, your future, and your sanity. Unfortunately, these needs don’t always match up. There are plenty of times that I’ve wanted to drop a client but couldn’t handle it financially or professionally.

Until you start earning clients outside of platforms like Upwork, reviews and reputation will be a constant concern. A single poor review can change everything.

I’ve come up with a general system to answer the question: “Should I drop this client or not?” In this article, I’d like to share that system with you.

Your Options When Dealing With Unreasonable Freelance Clients

Here are my two considerations:

  1. If my client supplies more than a quarter of my monthly income, the circumstances for dropping should be dire.
  2. If my client supplies less than a quarter of my monthly income, the circumstances for removal should be reasonable.

Let’s break it down by situation.

Situation #1: You’ve been working with a client, but you no longer enjoy the work. There are a few issues that come up regularly, and you feel you can earn better money from someone else.

In this case, you should provide two weeks of notice before quitting – or else finish your current project. Be honest about your reasoning. You’ll be surprised what some clients are willing to do to keep you on board.

(I want to make a quick note here. While your client might offer a significant raise to keep you on board, don’t threaten to leave if you don’t actually want to quit. Negotiations in this field don’t have to be complex. If you want a raise, just ask for one!)

Situation #2: The issues with your client are extreme.

Here are a few extreme issues you might face with freelance clients:

  • You’ve spoken multiple times about an ongoing problem but hasn’t been addressed.
  • You aren’t being respected as an independent contractor.
  • You aren’t being paid the rate you agreed upon.
  • You consistently aren’t being paid in a timely manner.
  • Deadlines are constantly changing.
  • The job isn’t what was originally described to you.
  • The client was rude or disrespectful.
  • The client won’t communicate or answer important questions.

In these cases, cutting a client is not only understandable but important. Without values, being in control of your career means nothing.

A Few Final Notes

Much like ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, I would not advise giving poor clients a chance to change. If the relationship was going to improve, it would have.

Remember, you are entering a field where you need to stand up for your best interests. There are no union leaders or managers to look out for you. In this world, you have to make change for yourself.

Cassandra Bondie

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