You’re freelancing, and life is good.
And then it happens…
You run into “the difficult client.”
Anyone who has been a freelancer for any length of time has had a client who is more difficult than most. They may have been condescending, critical, or even borderline abusive. Or maybe they’re inconsistent, demanding, or just plain impossible to please -- even by the most professional of freelancers. It’s not uncommon for the projects you work on with these clients to go sideways once in a while and it’s impossible to avoid every problematic client.
If you freelance long enough, you're bound to come across difficult clients but there are steps you can take to limit difficulties and protect your relationships and reputation.
In this post I’m going to show you why some freelance clients are so difficult to deal with and what to do when you run into one.
Let’s get started…
In my experience, the clients you want to work with don’t really want to hire a freelancer.
Why? Well, for starters, nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “You know what? I’m going to hire a freelancer today!”
What does happen is the client wants something to happen. They want a result. They want a specific outcome. They don’t want to hire a freelancer. They want to solve a problem or accomplish a task.
And in a time where anyone can hang out a shingle and pretend to be a pro, clients are skeptical and often don’t know what to expect. They’ve heard horror stories about freelancers who are flighty, erratic, and inconsistent.
What clients want is to work with someone reliable, dependable, and predictable who can help them achieve their desired outcome.
And that’s where you come in.
When money and resources are on the line, people want to work with freelancers who take ownership of all aspects of their job.
There are things about freelancing no one tells you.
It’s not all about being your own boss. And the hard truth is that if you freelance long enough, you're bound to come across difficult clients.
Think about it...
A freelancer may work with 15 different clients over the course of a year. The average client might only work with one or two freelancers during the same time period. Over time, those numbers only get wider such that a veteran freelancer might have dealt with 50 or 60 clients in the same timeframe that a client has only worked with a handful of freelancers.
My point is that, mathematically, we’re just more likely to work with difficult clients. And some companies tend to treat freelancers unreasonably, which just compounds the problem.
The bottom line is that as a freelance professional, you’ll have to adapt to a wide and ever-changing range of personality types. Not to mention, as a freelancer, the “getting to know each other” window tends to be very short.
You’ll need to be prepared to deal with difficult clients and difficult situations.
But, there's only one way...
As a professional operating a business it’s your job to set the tone of the relationship.
You’re the one responsible for the success of your business. And as a freelancer you have to know how to set boundaries and expectations with your clients.
Some clients may be inexperienced when it comes to working with freelancers. Or they may not have a very clear idea of what they need. That means you’ll need to listen, understand the underlying need, educate them, and guide the project to a successful outcome.
The success -- or failure -- of your project is a reflection on you as a freelancer. That's the bad news. The good news is when you recognize the key to freelancing success is building relationships and taking ownership, you’ll set yourself up for massive freelance success.
Successful freelancers (like you!) don’t just hope good client relationships will happen.
No sirree Bob. Successful freelancers know that solid policies, systems, and boundaries support their customer service and pave the way for good client relationships.
So, how can you get off to a good start with new clients and make sure everything runs so smoothly they rave about working with you?
I know you want to know how to work better together with your clients and get your projects done with more efficiency and ease. Here are seven steps you can take to limit difficulties and protect your relationships and reputation.
Most freelancers (heck, most people!) never take time to think about why some people come across as difficult.
But building relationships with people with different backgrounds, objectives, and past experiences is one of the realities of freelance life. And even when you work hard at it, sometimes you’ll still have to fire a client.
You can use Hectic to help you develop a solid client-freelancer relationship by keeping your freelance work organized and moving smoothly and helping your client succeed.
You can also use Hectic to help you remember important details like where you met your client and how they like work delivered — just jot down the things to remember in the notes section, and Hectic will log it with a timestamp and tie it to the client’s profile.
It’s easy to manage clients and projects with a single place to start, manage, and grow your entire freelance business..
Now you know why some freelance clients are so difficult to deal with and what to do when you run into one.
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