Problematic Clients - When To Say Goodbye

As a freelance technical writer, you'll get the opportunity to work with many different clients. Some will be an absolute pleasure to deal with, while others will require a little more patience on your part. It's important to be able to deal with many different types of personalities, but perhaps equally as vital is knowing when to draw the line and cut a client loose. If you find yourself in any of the following situations, you shouldn't feel the least bit guilty about saying good-bye.

You consistently have difficulty getting paid: Good clients know that cash flow is a major issue for most freelance technical writers, which is why they make every effort to remit payment when promised. If you're working for a company that told you in the beginning they pay every two weeks, and you always have to send four or five follow-ups to actually get your check two months later, you might want to say farewell to this particular client. Late payments could also indicate that the company is in financial trouble, which is all the more reason to get out of the situation.

The client is always changing their mind: At the beginning of the project, your client told you the user manual you were writing should be geared towards computer experts. After you put in 20 hours of work, they decided that it should in fact be a beginners' guide. Now that you've submitted the completed manual, they think that it might be a little too basic. Clients that are constantly changing instructions and guidelines are bad news. It's extremely frustrating for you as the writer, and it can also quickly reduce your hourly wage if you're working for a flat rate or on a per-word basis. It's natural for clients to want revisions and small changes, but if they are frequently changing the entire scope of large projects, it may be best to part ways.

The client is frequently asking for "favors": If you have a client you work with on a regular basis, you may decide to provide a "freebie" every now and then, but don't let it get out of hand. If a client is always asking you to proofread other writers' assignments, answer their emails, or "tweak" articles on their site, it's time to get assertive. Let them know that if they expect you to do extra work, they'll have to pay. If they continue to insist that you provide work on a pro bono basis, it's a sign that it's time to say good-bye.

The client is harassing and/or threatening: Some of your clients might occasionally take out their frustrations on you, but you should draw the line at harassment, name-calling, or threats. Clients who call you stupid, send you dozens of emails in a short period of time, threaten to damage your reputation as a writer if you don't do what they say, or call you at home all hours of the night should be promptly cut out of your life.


Last Updated: 05/05/2014