Author: Tatiana Rivers Tati Rivs Social Media Marketing
With freelancing you never know when your next contract will come in. Business isn’t always steady, there are times of feasting and then there are times of famine. This makes it really hard to let go of any client you might have, especially in the early days of your career. However, there are times when this needs to happen in order to make your freelance career healthier and more successful in the long run.
Here are some of our top tips on when you should consider cancelling a contract
The Warning Signs
1. More and More Work Is Being Done For Free
It starts off as just a small request. An extra edit or very small job that will only take a minute of your time, it’s hardly worth invoicing for and you want to have a good working relationship so you think; "cool, just this once". A few months down the line and you feel like you are being asked to do a lot more than your contract had written out and it’s not being paid for. On the one side, you should probably not agree to do free work, shame on you, but on the other, your client shouldn’t be asking you for it. If this is your situation, it’s time to reevaluate your working relationship.
2. Late Payments
Persistently late payments are frustrating to say the least and really make it difficult for a freelancer to budget, save and feel financially stable. Any late payment should always be seen as a red flag. Make sure you have a date of payment written out in your contract as well as allowing for a grace period (2 weeks is normal), any longer and you should start charging interest (2% being somewhat of an industry standard). Late payments should always be reminded and sent to the billing department (not an admin). If you come across a repeat offender it is time to have a discussion about what is happening. If you start hearing the line that you will be “paid up in full next week” and aren’t, stop work immediately.
3. They Don’t Know What They Want
In order to have good working relationship you need to know what you are signing up to do. Vague instructions or an unclear vision will only make things difficult for you. You could end up doing many edits and even then your client still might not be satisfied. There are better clients out there.
4. Poor Communication
If you have found it takes a week or more to get a response to an inquiry email, this is not a good sign. If this happens more than once it shows that you are not a priority and are not valued.
5. Rude and Aggressive Tone
Many freelancers work virtually, meaning that they may never have a face to face meeting with their client. Email can sometimes be tricky to detect tone but if you get the feeling that your are being spoken to rudely, the relationship will probably only go south from there and you might as well get ahead and start looking for a new client.
6. Conflicting Visions
One of the benefits of freelancing is choosing to do the work that you love. If you have a client that maybe you took on in your early days that doesn't seem to be working with the rest of your portfolio anymore or doesn’t make sense for you career, it may be time to part ways.
7. Asking You To Do Work In Areas Not Under Your Expertise
If you don’t feel comfortable doing a certain job, don’t do it. If you know nothing about Google Ads but are being asked to take that on, think about whether that makes sense for your career, if it doesn’t and you don’t think you will do a good job here, reassess your relationship. Clients that are dumping random jobs on you may not help you develop your career in the direction you want. They might be filling your time up instead of allowing you to find the type of work you are wanting to find. This can sometimes be hard to see, especially when it is nice to have a paycheck of any kind, however you want to be valued and respected for your skills and if you feel that your skills aren’t being used then it is time to start looking for someone that does need them.
When You Should Break Up
If you have seen one or more of these warnings sings pop up more than once. It might be time to start looking around for a better prospect. Of course, there can always be circumstances that affected the working relationship that might be temporary, business expansions, new management or any significant transitions might be the cause of any number of these problems, and they may go away. Deciding when you should cut ties requires you to step back and look at the big picture. Are you satisfied with the work you are doing? Are there better opportunities out there? Do you feel you have become too complacent with what you have? Does your client stress you out too much and you don’t feel like you are being compensated for it? If you can’t shake these thoughts, it is time for a break up.
How To Break It Off
First, look over any contracts signed and read over the terms for termination. Once you are familiar with what it would take it break it off, get your ducks in a row. Give the necessary warning emails (always have some sort of written communication as proof) and try to address the issues as best you can. Next, learn from your mistakes. Rewrite your contract so that the next client you have may start off on a better foot and you have made improvements to your own business model. If you fall into the same trap again, that is on you. Lastly, get back on the horse. Update your portfolio, start looking for leads. It will make you feel less freaked out about cutting ties if you know there more fish in the sea, and there are.