In my last post, I talked about how dealing with clients is easy—and it isn’t. Thanks to everyone who posted a reply. One of my followers, travel writer Doreen Pendgracs, said that sometimes it’s necessary to end a relationship with a client, and she’s absolutely right. Sometimes it isn’t worth your time and energy to stick with a particular client—and it could be costing you money to do so.
How do you know when you need to end the relationship?
If a client doesn’t pay, or pay on time. Of course there are exceptions, like the client might be going through a temporary slump and has to delay payment, or you may choose to write for a particular client for free once in a while for your own reasons, but generally, if you’re finding that a client isn’t paying, or payment is always delayed—it’s time to cut the cord. I had a client whose cheques bounced. The first time it happened, I let it go, and accepted his apology and new payment. The second time it happened, I asked that the cheque be covered plus interest to cover the delay, which I received. The third time, I asked for the payment in cash, and told him I wouldn’t be writing for him anymore. Three strikes—you’re out. I let the first two times go because I liked this client and enjoyed the work I was doing for him, but it seemed to have become a pattern that, according to him, “the bank just isn’t following my instructions to transfer funds.” So I had to cut him loose.
If the pay is consistently low Clients can also cost you money if the pay is low,(or lower than you are willing to accept) because even though it may be steady work, it’s taking time away from you being able to find higher paying clients. I was in this situation for too long and had to really step out of my comfort zone and start doing the legwork necessary—research and pitching—to find better clients and it paid off.
If the work isn’t what you expected. With some clients the work may start out well and then take a turn in a direction you didn’t expect, and don’t like. I had a client who wanted me to write articles that really made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t like that he was asking for more than we’d originally agreed upon, but was not willing to pay a higher fee. If it doesn’t feel right, it likely is going to get worse rather than better, so it’s time to let go.
Sometimes it’s the client that lets you go, which isn’t fun, but it happens and you have to learn to bounce back and move on. As another friend, writer Suzanne Boles says, “Let rejection fuel you.” Suzanne’s advice is to turn being rejected by a client into something positive by letting it energize you into working harder and finding even better clients.
Travel writer Roy Stevenson, a member of The Freelance Writers’ Connection, had a post on his blog, Pitch, Travel, Write that dealt with The bright side of rejection letters. It’s good to know that others have dealt with this and found a positive way out.
I’ve been dumped a few times, and it was nice to know that it usually wasn’t my work the client didn’t like, but their business that was going in a different direction, and they no longer needed my services. I’ve had very nice recommendations from them that I can use to find other clients. Of course there have been clients who weren’t happy with what I wrote, but even though I didn’t meet their expectations, I sometimes got paid for the time I’d put in because they recognized that I’d made my best effort.
The bottom line is that sometimes you’ll get dumped by a client and sometimes you have to be the one who dumps the client. Either way, know that everything will work out in the end, and you’ll get the clients who you want—and who want you.
Have you ever had to end a client relationship, or been dumped by a client? How did you deal with it?