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How to Deal with Difficult Clients When Freelancing

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One of the great things about being a freelancer is that you get to interact with a wide variety of people. Indeed, every day is a chance to make a new connection and strike up a new business relationship. The downside to this arrangement, unfortunately, is that most freelancers eventually encounter a client or two who is unreasonable, antagonistic, or just plain difficult. Successful freelancers know how to manage these relationships and exercise some level of “damage control.” To that end, here are four effective ways that freelancers can deal with frustrating clients:

Always be Courteous

Freelancers depend on positive reviews and references to win new clients and retain their current roster. The sad truth is that even one bad review from a disgruntled client can make it very difficult for a freelancer to remain viable in their field. Given that fact, it’s important for freelancers to always act in a courteous and respectful manner. This may be easier said than done. Even if a client resorts to name-calling or other deplorable tactics, resist the urge to stoop to their level.

Get Everything in Writing

It’s not wise to enter into any sort of “gentleman’s agreement” when freelancing. That’s particularly true for freelancers working with a client for the first time. Freelancers need to make it a point to get everything about a project or assignment in writing before they begin. This way, they’ll have access to all of the resources and guidelines they need. Furthermore, this will prevent unscrupulous clients from trying to “move the goalposts” at the last second.

Ask for a Call

A good amount of freelance communication occurs over email or other online chat platforms. Sometimes, misunderstandings happen with written messages. If you’re worried about getting into a disagreement with a client, then consider asking them for a call or even a digital-video conference. Every freelancer should have a home office that allows them to interact with clients in this fashion. Thankfully, talking with a client face-to-face (or even over the phone) can help you iron out some issues and get on the same page. 

Finish the Job

Though you may want to quit when collaborating with a tough client, it’s always better to finish the job than to face the consequences of bailing on a project. Whether you’re working on a piece about a new line of serum separator tubes or a website redesign project, it’s imperative to do your best and try to meet client expectations –– even if you don’t get along with them swimmingly. Doing so will cement your professional status and serve you well moving forward.