Every freelancer comes across some clients who are causing them sleepless nights. In most cases, problems can be solved through effective communication and by laying the foundations of collaboration. Sometimes, however, freelancers have to ask themselves whether or not it is worth the effort to retain the client. Letting go is hard, but this could provide many people who are working from home, a huge relief and loads of free time.
1. Lay The Foundations Early
All terms of the contract should be negotiated before the work commences. When working on a fixed fee basis, payment schedules and approval times have to be agreed upon. Writers should clearly state how many revisions they are happy to complete without charging extra the client. Contracts have to be signed. Period. There is no such thing as trust when it comes to dealing with customers over the internet. New clients need to be vetted, just like loan applicants.
2. Communicate Regularly
Making sure that you fully understand the project requirements is the most important step. Ask questions, and don’t worry about appearing inexperienced. It is better to get it right first time than having to fix simple things over and over again. Send drafts of articles, content, or outlines. Graphic designers can email different versions of the same design to see which one the client finds most suitable. Set approval deadlines for clients for each step of the work, to avoid working on a few days’ project for entire months.
3. Make Full Use of Collaboration Tools
Every freelancer should have a Dropbox and Google Docs account set up to collaborate with clients. Sending over proposals and allowing the customer to make supportive comments in writing is not only fast, but also documents the changes made to the project. Google Docs is also great for sending out invoices and proposals, while getting customers to electronically sign the contract.
4. Remain Professional
When coming across clients who seem like they cannot be impressed, and get angry easily, just remain calm. Ask questions about how you could make the results better. Chances are that you might meet some customers who have no idea what they want, or keep on changing the project’s requirements. This is why collaboration is important. Stay focused, and tell the client what you can do for them, but also tell them that the last version will be based on their final requirements, and there would be no more revisions. In some cases, clients will make up excuses to avoid paying the bill. Check their claims. If they are not valid, simply state the facts, and remind them that you followed their initial requirements.
5. Be Flexible But Don't Bend Over Backwards
Sometimes it is important to retain clients, and be flexible. For example, small changes in the colour scheme for designers due to a new website released by a competitor, can be reasonable. However, last minute modifications of requirements, are not acceptable. Do what seems reasonable, as long as it does not significantly reduce your hourly earnings. Copyblogger has a list of tips on how to handle difficult clients and challenges associated with freelance work.
6. Assess The Situation And Use Damage Control
Sometimes, it is time to let clients go. First, of course, it is important to try and get paid. Still, if there is no way that an agreement can be reached, even after applying expert negotiation skills, you should turn to damage control. It is better to lose the money, than being stressed over a difficult and stubborn customer. Focus on making up for the loss; after you said goodbye to your nightmare customer, it will be easier to concentrate on new projects.
See Also: Top 10 Websites to Find Freelance Work
As a freelancer, it is impossible to avoid meeting difficult customers. You can, however, reduce the risks by laying solid foundations for collaboration and vetting every client in advance.
Have you ever come across these clients? What did you do? Let us know in the comments section below.