Lucky is the freelancer who never has to work with a difficult freelance client. While certainly there are many, many amazing clients out there to work with, there are also ones who are hard to deal with. What’s a difficult freelance client? One that asks for more work than your contract stipulates. One that doesn’t pay you on time. Or, best of all, one that needs your help running their business but that treats you with disrespect.
There are ways to handle a difficult freelance client without harming your own business or your reputation. Here’s how.
Kill Them With Kindness
This can be hard to do when you’ve just gotten another rude email from your client, but it is the most professional route to take. Never let them see you sweat!
Always be kind and polite to your client. One way to make sure that you do that is to never respond to an email or phone call when YOU’RE angry. Call a friend or rant to your partner, but get out all your rage before you respond to the client. Never respond from a place of emotional turbulence and you’ll always come across as in control and professional.
Track The Details
One thing about a lot of difficult clients is that they tend to work in generalizations. They will claim that you made a mistake but don’t have the details to back it up. Or they’ll claim that they asked you to do a task that you didn’t do, but can’t produce the ask.
It’s up to you to have the receipts. Have really detailed contracts with clients, or at least a statement of work that you can point to. Keep the emails you send to them, and schedule product check ins so that there’s no way for them to claim negligence. Having the receipts makes a huge difference and can show a client that you won’t be pushed around.
Firing clients is part of freelancing. If a client is too demanding, too rude, or too hard to work with for the amount of money you’re earning, you can fire them.
The beautiful thing about freelancing is that there is always someone else to work for out there. There’s no need to get bogged down in the stress of one client if you can go find another one. Make sure that your finances can absorb the loss of income for at least one month and then let the difficult client go. You don’t need the stress.
Difficult clients can turn into easier clients after you’ve worked with them and have established that you know what you’r doing and some boundaries. Stick to your guns in a polite way and hopefully you’ll have more easy than difficult freelance clients.