March 30, 2015
How to Handle Losing A Client, Positive Insight On Crumby Times
A common expression, “Quality over Quantity” holds so true in the world of a freelancer. Working with ample clients isn’t always what it is cracked up to be though sometimes having too few clients can be just as bad as having too many. The real struggle comes when you lose a client that has proved you well inside the working relationship. It is never easy to accept but I hope this post will shed some light on ways to overcome the necessary obstacle to succeed as a freelancer.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
If you haven’t lost a client yet as a freelancer, I promise you likely will in the future. It’s not always the fault of your own or even your client. Sometimes things just get in the way such as budgets, timeframes, communication, personal matters and more. As a freelancer myself, I have learned so much from losing a client that it has made me a better business person as a result. It’s funny how with the bad comes the good. Let me shed some light on this with my own experience.
I had a client from the start of my freelancing career that kept me busy and I was grateful for it. I found them via Craigslist which seems sketchy from the start but I have to tell you, my best clients have come from replying to job listings on that website. Dead serious.
The client I contacted gave me a shot and as a result, I was given a small job to demonstrate my abilities. Having been pleased with the results our working relationship began. For a couple of years, we worked together on many projects. For me, it was about gaining experience and earning some money on the side while I looked for full-time employment elsewhere after quitting another job. Little did I know, from that point forward, I would start taking on more and more work from that specific client as well as some new ones. From there I decided I might give freelancing full-time a solid shot.
With this specific client, budgeting was a major hassle. No amount I would quote was cheap enough for the work to be performed. They constantly shot back different requirements based on my estimates I quoted per project. I wasn’t happy and was working for very little even though there was a lot of work coming in. After a while, I realized I wasn’t valuing my own craft as a real creative should. Until you believe in yourself will you realize that not every client deserves your attention? It’s certainly about money but you ultimately want to be happy doing what you do.
The work I performed was a web design for a lot of basic themes for WordPress or e-Commerce based websites. Some of these websites were designed for specific niches like churches or small businesses. A lot of the design was rushed because the client expected to turn around times way sooner than I was expecting. Rather than make the client unhappy, in hopes of keeping them as my client, I agreed to their own terms by disregarding my own(boy was that a mistake). I worked my ass off to get the work completed in the timeframe they wanted. As you can probably guess, this was a red flag from the start and it’s really my own fault for not negotiating terms upfront before committing to each project. Budgets decreased per project as expectations of my services increased (super mega red flag). I was working myself into a hole until one day I had enough. I wanted to be valued more for my work and given a realistic timeframe to complete it in. I thought of different ways to try and convey my concerns to the client until I decided I really didn’t need the client after all. I confronted my client about a rate increase and in the end I practically tripled my rate to see if they would still want my services or not. Now bear in mind that I did this knowing I had other clients to back up my cause in the event that I lost this client. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing this if this was your only client!
In the end, my rate was to rich for this particular client’s blood. I was excited and let down at the same time. I had just lost a client that brought a lot of profit to my work but also a lot of baggage. I felt relieved but scared. Losing a client is not easy. We as freelancers always want more no matter the effort. I didn’t want to lose this client for the repeat work that kept my lights on. I knew to succeed you have to fail and that same principle applies to your clients. Not a month later, I was contacted by a new client which helped me get my foot in the door with some major brands and corporations. The work so far has been amazing and looking back I can’t believe I wasted so much time on a client that didn’t value me.
Through Struggle Comes Reward
To anyone in this situation I totally know what you are going through. Freelancing is hard, especially at the start. Sometimes it’s never consistent and finding the right clients is like a needle in a haystack. After much perseverance, you will begin to see all the hard work will pay off. Clients will come and go and that process only makes you stronger, more dedicated, and passionate about what you do. Your skills will improve as well as your communication. Everything from the business to the craft will be presented in a more professional way based on the things you learn along your journey. There is a long list of things you should do and things you shouldn’t in my archive with clients. This, of course, will vary with any freelancer. For each new client develop a game plan that works to prove the value of yourself as well as your client. After all, it’s a two-way street. You don’t have to do what everyone else does so, in the end, be yourself, value yourself and start watching the clients come to you.