There are just some clients who you no longer want to work with. It could be that the client in question is difficult to work with or it could be more a matter that you’ve moved on from the type of work you’ve been doing for that client. Whether you’ve only done a little work for the client or you’ve been together a long time, it’s never easy to fire a client. Not only do you have to get past the freelancer’s natural reluctance to give up money, but you’ve got to make the break in such a way that the client will still speak positively about you to other prospective clients.
- Hike your prices: Not all clients will stick with you through a price hike and you can take advantage of that fact. Explain to your problem client that you’re raising your rates and will be charging a higher rate in the process. This solution is, of course, the best bet if the main problem with a client is that he’s just not paying what you’re worth. It doesn’t always work out so well for solving other problems. A client you want to get rid of can always call your bluff and agree to pay that higher price for your services.
- Fill your dance card: Unless you’ve got a client with an open-ended contract, simply getting other work on your calendar can help get that other client off of it. If you’re booked up to the point that a troublesome client can’t afford for your schedule to clear up, he’ll seek out a relationship with another freelancer. You can even help the process along by explaining that you just can’t take on anymore work, but suggesting another freelancer who would be ideal for the job.
- Stick to your guns: More often than not, the clients we want to get rid of are the ones who are late on deadlines, don’t get us what we need and pay late. Just by sticking to the line of the agreement you made initially and refusing to budge from the time line, along with other details. More often than not, a client will initiate the search for a new freelancer without any suggestions from you. This approach isn’t perfect, of course — you can wind up with a reputation as a hard case to work with. But as long as you deliver, the client won’t have much room for complaint.
- It’s not you, it’s me: If you need to not work with a particular client anymore, it’s okay to frame ending the relationship as a personal problem. You can explain that you’re cutting back or you don’t think that you’re the right freelancer for the job anymore. Everyone prefers to think that it isn’t something they did, so this approach can make for an easier end than some alternatives.
- Just say no: There are some clients who will happily pay higher rates or wait to work with you, even if you don’t want to work with them. In such cases, you may actually need to go out and explain that you can’t work with a particular person any longer. It’s the toughest way to do things and you’re more likely to wind up with an ex-client who isn’t going to say nice things about you if he’s asked. But some clients won’t give you an alternative.
It’s worth noting that firing a client when you have no outstanding contractual obligations is significantly easier than trying to make a break in the middle of a project. Unless there is no possible way that you can manage to finish the project in question, don’t leave a client — even an annoying one — in the lurch. As soon as the project winds up, you’ll be in the clear. If you’ve reached your breaking point, still try to keep the process of giving your client a pink slip civil. Suggest another publicistand generally try to make that the client will still think of you fondly.