There are plenty of great reasons to become a freelancer, like schedule flexibility and the chance to be your own boss. The downside, however, is having to look for work and grappling with a variable income as a result. In fact, some freelancers are so desperate for volume that they'll take on just about any assignment that comes their way, even if that means working with clients who are utter nightmares.
But if you're a more established freelancer, you may be in a place where you can let go of clients more easily, and reserve your time for those you truly enjoy working for. Here are four signs that it's time to give a freelance client the ax.
1. They never pay on time
When you don't have a steady paycheck coming in, you can't afford to wait months to get paid for work you've already done. If you have a client who never seems to manage to pay you on time, you might consider replacing that customer with someone who's respectful of your invoicing terms, and financially able to meet them.
2. They don't communicate well
Communicating face to face is often more effective than by email or even over the phone. But given the nature of freelance life, much of the interaction you'll have with your clients is electronic. And if you have a client who just doesn't communicate well, it could make for a frustrating experience, especially if you find that you're constantly guessing at what that client wants. Poor communication could also result in scenarios where you're frequently spinning your wheels and redoing work, all the while wasting time you're not getting paid for. So if you have a client who stinks at communicating, you may want to cut that cord.
3. They're not respectful of your time
It's not unheard of for a client to call with a last-minute request. But if you have a customer who tends to give you very little notice about getting work done, or tends to make unreasonable demands, then it may be time to find a way out of that arrangement.
4. The work is boring
One perk of being a freelancer is getting to choose projects that are interesting to you. If you have a client whose work bores you to tears, it pays to seek out alternative opportunities -- ones you'll enjoy spending your time on. The more bored you are with your work, the more you might procrastinate, thereby putting your income on the line.
If you have a freelance client who's making your life miserable for one reason or another, don't feel compelled to stick things out. That said, before dismissing a client, aim to salvage the relationship if possible. If customers never pay on time, get them on the phone, explain how that tardiness is wreaking havoc on your finances, and see if you can come to an agreement on payment terms. If a client has trouble communicating, explain that you need clearer directions to be able to continue doing the work. And if you are constantly being bombarded with urgent requests, explain that you have other clients and a schedule, and that that system just isn't going to fly.
Now, if you're dealing with a client whose work bores you to pieces, there may not be much to do about it. But if you're going to end your relationship with a client, do so respectfully and offer plenty of notice. You never know when you might need a former client to serve as a reference. So while you shouldn't hesitate to pull out of working relationships that aren't beneficial, you should also take care not to burn bridges.