If freelancing were a religion, firing a client would be considered blasphemy. But there comes a time in every freelancer’s life, when for the sake of her freelancing business (and sanity!), she must do exactly that.
Maybe it’s the client who’s difficult or maybe it’s you who finds the work soul crushingly boring and want to move on. Either way, the choice of walking away from a gig is as much yours as the client’s.
Yes, it’s a tricky situation and if handled wrong, it can spell disaster. The good news is that if you play your cards right and keep things professional, the whole thing will go smoothly enough.
Here are five ways to fire your client without ruining your reputation or your relationship with them.
Word of caution: Before firing a client, make sure the problem isn’t you. Correcting your own shortcomings is a lot easier than going to all the trouble of firing clients and dealing with the aftermath.
1. Raise your rates
You know that amount you dreamed of ultimately charging your clients? It’s time to raise ‘em to that level.
A quick email to your client saying ‘Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be raising my rates to xyz. In case these rates don’t work for you, please let me know. I’d be happy to recommend another freelancer.’ is all it takes
If the problem is the client, they’re probably going to balk at paying more. Trouble clients usually just believe in troubling their freelancer and not in going to the trouble of paying more for great work.
If the problem is your lack of interest or motivation, quote a number you’ll be happy to continue writing for in case the client agrees to your new rates.
2. Find more work
A lot of times freelancers balk at firing clients because they’re worried about the loss of income. So spend a few extra minutes scouting for new clients every day until you land more clients who will more than make up for the soon-to-be fired client.
Once you have work lined up, letting your trouble client go by telling them you’ve gotten too busy to do them justice and refer them to someone.
3. Lessen your workload
Another way to get rid of the client from hell is to lessen your work load – drastically. Deciding to let a client go can be a wake up call. What might have started out as an excuse for firing a client could be the nudge you needed to revamp your freelance business.
Do you really need to work for so many clients? What if you could earn the same amount by working for fewer clients?
4. Take the blame
Sometimes, you need to come clean and tell the client that you can’t work with them anymore. You don’t have to tell them you’re parting ways because if you continue working with them you’ll go insane.
Instead of slogging through the work, do the right thing by letting your client know and save yourself hours of agony.
Give them the classic ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speech.
Refer a couple of freelancers you know will take good care of your client and make a graceful exit.
Delivering the bad news
Firing a client requires diplomacy. You may have your reasons ready but how you deliver them is more important.
The simplest way to tell your client is to sandwich the bad news between good news.
Good news –> Bad news (You’re being let go) –> Good news
Start off on a positive note by telling them it has been great working with them. If your experience has been really bad and you can’t bring yourself to say it, use words like enlightening, interesting etc. – any positive words your stomach can… stomach.
Move on with mentioning how your business has evolved and grown during this time to the point where you’re making some big changes and moving it in a new direction. That’s your first good news.
As a result you will no longer be able to work with them. Give them any of the above reasons. That’s the bad news.
Now reassure your client – whether it’s completing your current project with them or recommending another freelancer. Let them know you’ll take care of them. That’s your second good news.
Thank them for their business and wish them all the best.
Have you ever had to let a client go? How did you do it?