Respect Yourself: 11 Signs‌ ‌You Should ‌Drop A‌ Freelance ‌Client

Eventually, every freelancer must cut ties with‌ ‌a‌ ‌client. ‌But, early on in your freelancing career, you probably have to work with any client you can in order to build your portfolio, and obviously make a living. ‌In time, however, and as your business grows, you will be able to choose your‌ ‌clients more selectively.

In order for your business to succeed, you must have a ‌well-oiled‌ ‌workflow and a liveable income, regardless of the‌ ‌industry‌ ‌you‌ ‌work‌ ‌in. ‌If anything adversely affects your billable hours, your speed of work, or your mental and emotional equilibrium, it should be dropped promptly. Unfortunately, this often means letting bad clients go. ‌And, sometimes, you may even have to say goodbye to those you’ve worked with for a long time.

With that being said, listed below are 11 reasons why you ‌might‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌drop‌ ‌a‌ ‌client‌ ‌ASAP.

1. You are not respected by them. 

If‌ ‌you take away one lesson from this article, it is‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ ‌should‌ ‌be‌ ‌respected‌ ‌by your‌ ‌clients. That’s a non-negotiable as a freelancer. Aftter all, fair and honest working relationships are built on respect. ‌

Initally, you might have trouble predicting a client’s behavior. ‌On the other hand, it’s not okay to tolerate this ‌if‌ ‌it‌ ‌happens‌ ‌more‌ ‌than‌ ‌once. ‌Clients who are rude, unfriendly, or critical of your work aren’t worth it. The same is true if they don’t appreciate your time or constantly question your rates. 

You might be worried about destroying‌ ‌your‌ ‌reputation. And, that’s valid. ‌But if‌ ‌you’re unhappy, your performance suffers, which in turn could cost you clients.

In short, there is no point in working with clients who don’t value your expertise or value your worth. ‌If this is the case, you need to cut ties with them.

2. ‌The skills and experience you have are downplayed. 

Occasionally, you’ll run into clients that think they can‌ ‌do‌ ‌what‌ ‌you‌ ‌do.So, why did they hire you in the first place? ‌The reason is that they‌ ‌don’t‌ ‌have‌ ‌the‌ ‌time for tasks like writing blog posts, managing their social media accounts, or designing a website. 

When you work with these types of clients, they usually ‌minimize your value as a freelancer and how much you’re worth. ‌As‌ ‌a result, you’ll run into problems with this client. These can range from not paying you on time, criticizing every detail, and demanding multiple revisions for things that aren’t relevant to‌ ‌the‌ ‌deliverable.

3. They continually pay late. 

For a freelancer, cash flow is ‌everything. ‌Paying on time is what makes a freelance career rewarding and free of hassles, like stressing over when money will be deposited into your bank account. From me personal experience, there’s nothing that triggers my anxiety then jiggling money around because a client hasn’t paid an invoice.

It’s clear you need to replace a client that’s always late with a client that‌ actually ‌pays‌ ‌your in a timely manner.

Payment reminders can be sent automatically, but there is still a chance that the whole experience leaves you frustrated. ‌As such, and I can’t stress this enough, you need clients who respect your time, your expertise,‌ ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌status‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌business‌ ‌owner.

4. ‌A client takes up more of your time than is necessary.

Even though I’d like to say we’re all in this to help each other, at the end of the day you’re running a business. And, for that business to succeed, you must be able to earn more money than you are spending. 

As this person is literally costing you money, it makes sense to end the relationship if you’re spending more time or money on them than they’re actually paying you. 

There are a couple of exceptions though. ‌The first one is if the expense is truly temporary. For example, maybe the client had a medial emergency and that’s held up a project. Second, there’s a chance that the client will become more profitable‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌future, like if their startup thrives.

5. They’re a (scope) creep. 

When a client keeps asking you to do work that’s not in your contract or job description, they’re probably wasting your time and energy.

If you weren’t aware, this is called scope creep. And, it’s the nemesis of freelancers.

6. They engage in abusive behavior. 

Being demanding or picky is one thing. ‌Yet, it is quite another thing to abuse someone (physically, emotionally, or mentally).

If you are constantly screamed at, called names, or gaslighted by a client then it’s time to part ways. I know you need to make a living. But, you also don’t deserve being treated like that.

7. ‌Communication is a problem for them. 

Freelancing is all about communication,‌ ‌especially‌ ‌if‌ ‌you’re working‌ ‌remotely. ‌What’s more, according to studies, communication is the most important skill recruiters look for, and it’s the one that candidates lack most.

However, communication works both ways. On your end, you need to be upfront about fees, availability, and provide the client with updates. For the client, responsiveness, setting clear expectations, and providing clear feedback are crucial for a successful and productive partnership. Most‌ ‌clients‌ ‌are aware of this, but the bad ones either aren’t‌ ‌or‌ ‌‌choose‌‌ ‌‌to‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌neglect ‌‌it.

8. ‌Your specialization is in a different field. 

When starting out, many freelancers are generalists, regardless of their industry. Basically, they can work with any type of client and any type of project depending on their skill set‌ ‌and‌ ‌experience. ‌Although this is a viable method, it is not always profitable. Why? Because as a specialists you can fetch higher rates.

You may eventually decide to specialize in a certain type of service or to target a specific niche. ‌Using this method will allow you to work faster, more focused, and at a higher rate. ‌As such, it may mean dropping clients who don’t fit your specialty, especially if their projects are causing you delays.

9. They override your recommendations. 

Piggbacking from the point above. If you’re a specialist, then you’re the expert. ‌Of course, clients know their brands or business better than you. ‌‌On the‌ ‌other‌ ‌hand,‌ ‌when‌ ‌it‌ ‌comes‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌work itself, you know the best strategies and practices ‌to‌ ‌‌employ. ‌It may not be worthwhile to continue a relationship with a client who micromanages your work or consistently rejects your recommendations.

To‌ ‌be‌ ‌blunt, this shows disrespect, or at least poor comprehension. Morieover, ‌if you keep working that way, it’s going to reflect badly on your brand and reputation. ‌In fact, this is particularly true when your client blames you for their poor results, even after refusing to‌‌ ‌‌implement‌‌ ‌‌your‌ ‌‌suggestions.

10. They have unrealistic expectations.

Clients can indirectly diminish your value by asking for too much work in exchange for the same rate, or by requiring a turnaround time that is unrealistic. ‌‌‌Taking on a client under these conditions is‌‌ ‌‌only setting‌‌ ‌‌yourself‌‌ ‌‌up‌‌ ‌‌for‌‌ ‌‌failure.

Furthermore, should you fail to meet your client’s expectations, they will have the upper hand. And, even worse, the client may lower your rate or even efuse to pay you for your work.

11. You’re just not feeling it.

Often, you may feel forced into taking on a project you may not be enthusiastic about. ‌Usually it’s so you don’t upset the‌ ‌client or harm your reputation. And, yes, sometimes you have to take on such projects to put food on the table.

Nonetheless, that’s not how it should be. ‌You can decline a job if you’re not feeling enthusiastic when you get the first inquiry. Or, if you’ve outgrown the work you’ve dont previously for the client.

You should curate your portfolio carefully to prevent this byincluding the types of projects for which you would like to be sought out and hired. ‌Learning how to drop a client is crucial for this reason.

The Wrap Up

Experience is the key to knowing when and how ‌to‌ ‌drop‌ ‌a‌ ‌client. ‌Additionally, choosing the best, most informed decision for yourself is important as a self-employed professional.

Remember, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to freelancing. ‌Therefore, not every client is a good match‌‌ ‌‌for‌‌ ‌‌you. ‌While you will encounter rotten apples along the way, you will learn to identify worthwhile projects and clients with experience and expertise. 

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