Most of your copywriting clients will be terrific, but every once in a while you’ll end up with a client that drains your creative resources, takes up more than their fair share of your time and just generally makes you miserable. If that happens, you may have to “fire” that client to set yourself free. Here’s exactly how to do it…
Today’s question comes from Anne H., who asks “How can I get rid of a problem client? They’re making me crazy!”
First of all, before you reach your breaking point and storm out from a meeting in a hailstorm of expletives, remember that the creative community is very, very small. Even though you want to end things with your client, remember that the most important thing is to guard your reputation. Don’t do anything that will burn bridges.
Next, figure out exactly what it is that’s making you crazy about how your client is acting. Write it all out and then try to think of possible solutions. If your client is approving projects and then coming back later with changes, could you create a process for them that will help them to be more thorough as they review your work and give feedback? Before you get rid of this client completely, make sure that you exhaust all possibilities to solve the issues.
If you talk with your client and they’re still not behaving the way you need them to, you can start exploring the process of firing them. Bear in mind, though, that if you’re in the middle of a project, you can’t just quit. Your client, troublesome though they may be, is depending on you for your copywriting services, very probably on a specific timeline. Leaving them high and dry just isn’t an option.
If you have copywriter colleagues who might be more willing to deal with the kinds of problems this client is posing, you can talk with them and see if they’d be willing to take over the project. Remember, though, that your client will also have to agree to the change—and they have every right to say no.
It may be that you have to grit your teeth and stick with the project until it’s finished. As soon as the project is finished, however, it’s time to let your client go. Be firm, be clear and be polite. Let your client know that you wish them well, but the project you just completed will be the last one you’ll be available to do for them. You can suggest other writers who you think might work better with them (but, again, don’t send any of your peers a problem client without warning them!)
After you’ve let your client go, think through your relationship with them. See if you can identify any signs that might have foreshadowed the later problems. Were they always late for meetings? Did they keep changing their mind about the scope of the project? Then, keep these clues in mind as you begin to work with other clients. After all, the best kind of problem clients are the ones you can avoid completely.
Your turn! Have you ever had to fire a problem client? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments below!