There comes a time in every freelancer’s career when it makes perfect sense to drop a client. In the early stages of building your freelancing business, you probably took any client you could get but as things progress, you’re soon able to pick and choose who you work with. And there’s a lot to be said for being picky as a freelancing professional.
Regardless of the industry you work in or the services you provide, maintaining a smooth workflow and a high income is vital to the success of your business. Anything which detracts from your billable hours, the speed at which you work, and your mental and emotional balance, needs to be dropped as quickly as possible.
More often than not, this means saying goodbye to bad clients. However, it can also mean parting company with long-term ones you’ve enjoyed working with.
Here are just 10 reasons why you, as a freelancer, might want to drop a client or two in the near future.
They can’t meet your rates
This might seem obvious, however the further you progress in your freelancing career, the higher your rates will rise. One day you’ll hit a payment ceiling but until then, it’s wise to raise your rates once or twice a year. Rate increases are usually done when your schedule is full and you have plenty of prospects enquiring about your services.
This tells you that you can let the lowest paying client go and replace them with a new client at your higher rate level. By jettisoning the lower paying clients like this, you quickly increase your income while completing the same amount of work.
You have specialized in a different industry
Most freelancers, in any industry, start off as generalists. This means they take any type of client, and work on any type of project, that fits their skillset and experience. However, while this is certainly a viable method, it’s not always the most lucrative. Specialists are usually paid more.
Eventually you may specialize in a particular type of service or choose to work with a narrower target market. Doing so can help you to work faster, with more focus, and with better rates. This might mean dropping clients who don’t fit the specialism, especially if their projects will slow you down.
They continually pay late
A smooth cash flow is vital for a freelancer. Getting paid on time is what contributes to a successful freelancing career and one free of hassle and anxiety. When a client continually pays late, then it’s a clear sign you need to replace them with a client who always pays on time.
Sending out invoice payment reminders can be frustrating, even when you set up the procedure automatically. As a professional you deserve clients who respect your time, your skills, and your status as a business owner.
They don’t respect you as a pro
Paying late can reflect a client’s general lack of respect for your professionalism. When a client is rude, dismissive, and frequently vanishes suddenly for long periods of time, then it’s a clear sign you need to replace them.
Good freelance clients are polite, respectful, communicative, and friendly. They let you get on with what you do best without micromanagement or mistrust. They are a pleasure to work with and this is something you notice after working with a bad client for any length of time.
You’ve run out of steam on their projects
When you’ve been working for the same client for a number of months or years, there can come a time when you run out of steam with their projects. While they may be pleased with your work, you might end up running dry when it comes to new ideas and innovations related to that client. You’ve basically done all you can for them.
In this case it’s not a bad thing to call it quits and give them notice. They can then find a fresh freelancer to see things from different angles, while you find a new client with a different type of focus or need.
The projects take too long
There’s a peculiarity about freelancing in which two very similar client projects can take very different amounts of time. One project for Client A can take twice or thrice as long as the same project for Client B. Reasons include poor communication, different client processes, differing payment methods, and distance variables, plus any number of other factors.
Speed is everything when you’re a freelancer. If one client project is taking up too much of your time, then dropping them and finding a more suitable client might be the best option. This can speed up your workflow and improve your cash flow very quickly.
They demand too much attention
When a client demands you answer their questions on a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon, then they need to be dropped as soon as possible. Clients need to respect your time as a freelance professional, especially during your non-working hours. Even during your working day, they can’t expect you to drop everything and reply immediately to multiple questions.
Nuisance clients can dramatically reduce your workflow, productivity, and mental balance, which all have a negative impact on your earnings and cash flow. Drop an overly communicative client as soon as you can.
They insist on an inferior payment method
Getting paid on time is important for freelancers. Providing your clients with the most suitable payment processes is a good way to ensure you get paid quickly and securely. However, some payment processes are more complicated than others. Some payment gateways can also have quite sizeable payment fees.
If your client can only pay in one way and that way is a hassle or an expensive inconvenience, then it might be time to drop them. They’re likely to be a poorly paying client anyway. And these days, with advanced invoicing software, there’s no excuse for a client to keep to old-fashioned ways of payment.
They always push the scope boundaries
You’ve written a quote, a proposal, and a contract clearly stipulating all the work you’ll be doing for your client and the related fees. Everything is precise and seemingly obvious. Yet your client keeps on trying to push boundaries and get you to add more work for free. This is widely known as ‘scope creep’.
A client relentlessly asking for free extras is one who does not respect your professionalism or truly understand the benefits you bring to their life/business. It’s usually best to drop such a client and accept a better one.
They don’t use/understand collaboration tools
Depending on your freelancing industry, you might require your client to have at least a little knowledge of how to use certain collaboration tools online. With work in all industries becoming increasingly dependent on apps and internet-based software, it can be very difficult to successfully work with a client if they don’t use or understand the collaboration tools that you do.
When most of your clients do and there’s one that doesn’t, this can negatively impact on your productivity and time. Sometimes it might just be best to jettison an old-fashioned client.
Moving forwards in your freelancing career
Dropping a client needn’t be stressful. Give the client enough notice ahead of time and ensure you have a replacement already lined up. You can then seamlessly switch from one to another at a predetermined date on your calendar.
The more successful you become as a freelancer, the more frequently you’ll need to upgrade to more lucrative clients and more rewarding projects. Think of the need to drop clients as a sign you’re doing well.