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Do You Need to “Fire” a Client?

Right now, I’ve reached something of a crossroads in my “career.” I’m being offered different opportunities, and I’m thinking more about what I want, and how I want my life to look. I’m self-employed, and I work from home, so I am fortunate in that I have a little more flexibility to decide who I want to look for, and what I want my day to look like.

However, it’s not always easy.

As I take a look at my expanding workload — at a time when I’m ready to reduce it — it’s obvious that I need to stop working with some clients. It’s time for me to go through all of my work, and decide what I find most fulfilling, which opportunities I want to develop, and what is most cost-efficient for me. While I’ve already stopped working with one client (that was fairly easy in my case, since we were at the end of a contract period and we both just decided it wasn’t a good fit anymore), there are others that I think will be harder to stop working with.

Deciding to “Fire” a Client

In some cases, the decision to stop working with a client is fairly easy. You might have a client that is difficult to work with, always demanding more, while paying lower rates. You might have a client who doesn’t get back to you, or whose lack of communication makes it difficult for you to meet deadlines. There are also clients who tell you that you will be doing a small job, and then it balloons into a big job. And, of course, there are clients who don’t pay on time, or string you along for weeks, promising payment in the future.

In such cases, it can be fairly easy to decide to “fire” a client. The client is hard to work for, and the money isn’t worth the trouble you go through to get it. What’s hard is ending your working relationship with someone that you actually like. That’s my problem. I like most of my clients. I enjoy working with them. I’ve met some of them in person at FINCON, and they’re awesome. They’re a fine bunch who happen to pay on time.

However, I’m rethinking the sorts of things I want to write. And, mercenary as it may sound, I’m also considering my rates. While I’m not ready to boost my freelance writing rates on existing clients, I am starting to think about which clients are more time intensive — and whether they are cost efficient when it comes to the use of my time. I’m also trying to weigh new opportunities against current commitments. Will something new take me in a more interesting direction? If so, I may have to say goodbye to some clients in order to follow pursuits that I find more personally fulfilling.

And that’s what it comes down to. In the end, you need to decide what you want your life to look like, and figure out what kind of work you want to do. Every now and again, that might mean changing the makeup of your clientele, even if it’s hard and you are reluctant to say goodbye.

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