Freelancing Tips – Don’t be afraid to part ways with problem clients

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year was dealing with problem clients. Customers who hire you to complete freelance projects can come in a wide array of personalities. One client could absolutely love everything you do in one draft while others require constant changes not only because they don’t like what you’ve initially delivered but also because they seem to change their minds as they go and the project progresses. Of course, they don’t want to pay anything extra and expect you to continue making constant revisions until they are happy.

This can end up being a big drain on not only your earnings as you postpone completion on additional projects to appease them but also on your productivity as they tend to want constant updates. Customers of this nature are simply not worth dealing with.

You should always be willing to make revisions to a client’s freelance projects but not to the point where you’re revising the same thing over and over again. About 75 – 80% of the projects I complete are accepted on first draft, which I think is fairly normal. When revisions are requested it’s usually minor or they want me to include a point or design element I missed in the initial draft. This is part of the regular process and I have no qualms at doing it at all for my customers.

Where it does become draining is when you have to make multiple revisions on the same item because the client is either not communicating correctly or they simply want to keep adding additional work with out paying additional compensation. It doesn’t happen often with me but it has happened on a couple of occasions.

You can attempt to limit these revisions by stating something such as “We’ve been working on this quite some time but please tell me all things you’re looking to change so I can produce my final revision.” This indicates that this is the last time you’re going to make revisions on their behalf. Additionally you can also ask for additional compensation if there are any further revisions by explaining that the project is going far beyond initially quoted. Lastly you can pull the plug on the project altogether knowing the customer will continue requesting more and more from you.

The latter has happened to me once over the last year and I finally decided to part ways with the individual. The initial project was supposed to be completed in a total of 5 hours but when I finally decided to “fire my client” I was into hour 12. I am not ashamed that it came to that as I had done everything in my power to help the customer complete the project to his liking but he continued requesting more. I refunded the customer’s deposit, told him that things definitely weren’t working out and wished him good luck in the future. I also stated that any delivered product was not to be used as it was not paid for.

By doing this it freed up my time to pursue customers who were easier to deal with and hopefully fell into the 75 – 80% metric that accept my work on the first draft.


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