Sometimes You Just Have To Fire A Client

Last week, I fired a client — two actually. I’d been working with both of them for over a year and a half and the clients would have happily kept me on indefinitely. One was unusually low maintenance — it took him two emails to hire me and I’ve received perhaps five messages more since that time. The other was a dream job when I took it: it was for a blog that I had read for quite a while and thoroughly enjoyed the content on.

And yet, I sent in my resignations. It came down to a question of money. The two clients literally were tied as my lowest-paying clients. There was no possibility of that changing, either. So when I got an offer of a long-term project that would pay me more than those two clients combined, I fired my clients.

But I Did It Nicely

If it wasn’t a question of pay, there was a lot to like about my clients. So, I did my best to end our time together on a ‘we can still be friends’ tone. I’ll still have opportunities to work with the individuals involved with both of the companies I was working with. Heck, there’s even an upcoming project with one of those clients that I had agreed to work with and will probably still be involved with. So, it was crucial to me to leave with my best foot forward:

  • I took care of paperwork, like invoices, to try to minimize the transition.
  • I offered up the name of another freelancer who would be happy to land those gigs, wouldn’t have a problem with the pay and could match the style of the website.
  • I tried to give as much warning as I could — my contracts did not require it, and I could only offer a week’s notice before I would need to transition to my new gig, but I did give a head’s up as soon as I knew the situation would be changing.

And It Paid Off

In the last week, a couple of new projects have come my way — beyond the one that I fired my clients in favor of. I feel like I’ve established the fact that I really value my time, and these great projects have come my way as a result. I’m not a believer in the Law of Attraction or anything like that, but I think the fact that I’m confident enough about my writing to look for opportunities that pay me what I’m worth is paying off.

I’m not suggesting that lower-paying jobs are evil or any such thing. It’s a question of paying one’s dues and improving one’s skills. But once such jobs have served their purpose, sticking with them can lead prospective clients to worry that you don’t feel you’re ready for the big time. The confidence to move on and look for new opportunities really pays off.


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  2. Michele   •  

    This seems to be in the air. Another freelance friend of mine fired a client this week! I definitely agree. Our time is valuable; however, I love that you left on such a positive note. You just never know how you’ll meet up with someone in the future….

    Great post–I’m tweeting this!


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