The Right Way to Quit a Freelance Job

It pays to sever ties with freelance clients in a professional manner. Here's how.

Maurie Backman
Maurie Backman
Feb 28, 2019 at 9:18AM
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Many freelancers find themselves scrambling to find clients and struggling to drum up a steady book of business. But what if you're in the opposite scenario, where you have a client you're actually looking to unload, and you're not quite sure how to do it?

There are plenty of reasons you might want out of a freelance gig. You might be eager to quit because the work is dull, you don't have the time, or the pay just doesn't make the assignments worth your while. But before you fire off an email telling a client you're no longer available, remember that the way you sever ties could have long-term repercussions as far as your reputation goes. In fact, there's a right way and a wrong way to quit a freelance job, and the following steps will help you achieve the former.

A woman sitting at an office desk takes notes in front of a computer.


1. Give adequate notice

Just as you're supposed to give ample notice when resigning from a full-time job, so too should you give any freelance client of yours that same courtesy when bowing out of a contract arrangement. When it comes to salaried employment, the standard is generally two weeks' notice, but in this case, you should aim to offer up enough notice for the client in question to replace you -- however long you reasonably think that might be. For example, if you're convinced that your replacement can be found in a matter of days, a week of notice should suffice, especially if the relationship at hand isn't all that lengthy. But if you have a specialized skill that's hard to replicate, and it's a client you've been working with for months, then aim for two weeks of notice, if not more.

2. Try to help your client find a replacement

Chances are, you know other freelance professionals whose skills overlap with yours. If you're planning to quit a freelance gig, ask around and see if any of your peers are looking for work, and then pass their names along when you part ways with the client in question. It'll certainly help soften the blow and help that client think more kindly of you.

3. Create a turnover package

Salaried workers who leave their jobs are often asked to train their replacements. If you're quitting a freelance job, one good thing you might do upon cutting ties is create a quick guide to the work you did so that another freelancer can step in and take your place. If you give your client the courtesy of preparing that guide at no charge, it'll certainly go a long way.

When you work as a freelancer, your reputation is everything. While there's no sense in sticking with a freelance gig you're not happy with, you should also aim to part ways with all of your clients on good terms. That way, your clients will be more likely than not to say good things about you -- things that lead to great opportunities that you end up sticking with for the long haul.