Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saying Goodbye: Losing a Client

It was good while it lasted, but I have lost a client or two. It's true. One was an unfortunate victim of the increasing popular company cutbacks resulting from the current state of our economy (I'll keep my political views to myself…). Another never contacted me again after I completed a couple of projects she really seemed to like. And then there was the client who needed me to politely explain the reason why things weren't working out between us. What can I say? It happens.

So you'd better be prepared. Now I'm not saying that you won't have faithful clients for one, two or more years, but if you're like me and you have mouths to feed, it's not a good idea to have just one or two "eggs in your basket." When you have several clients to work with it softens the blow when one of your eggs unexpectedly falls to the wayside.

Diversity is a good thing in business. It provides more security. This week two of your clients need work done, and next week three more need you to send over contracts to begin new projects. Freelance writing is a business prone to feast or famine periods. Dealing with multiple clients just makes sense.

It takes a bit of juggling. You don't want to screw up and miss an important deadline or you might end up kissing another client goodbye. It's important to be organized when you are dealing with multiple projects. You also need to be realistic with yourself about what you can handle.

When a client moves on, don't take it personally - unless you know for a fact they moved on because of something you did. And even if that is the case, treat it as a learning experience. Be honest about what happened, learn the lesson and move on. We all make mistakes, especially in the beginning.

Nine times out of ten a client is moving on for reasons that may have nothing to do with you or the copy you write. They may need to cut back financially and can no longer afford you. They may have found another writer who charges less than you and they don't know how to tell you. They may be taking a copywriting break. I can come up with excuses all day, but you get what I'm saying. Who knows why it happens, but it does.

All you can do is continue to learn and improve your craft and hone your business skills. Market, market, market your services consistently to bring in new business so that if a client suddenly up and leaves, you'll barely notice.


juliedupre said...

You are spot on when it comes to having more than a few eggs in your client basket. Due to the economy, and the way that clients want cheaper and cheaper writers, losing clients isn't an uncommon situation anymore.


Avid Writer said...

I agree, Justin. As freelancers we must learn to shift when things change in order to remain successful in this business. You always need a plan.

Lori said...

Excellent advice. Here's the thing - it's business. It isn't, and shouldn't, be personal. But we writers have the toughest time separating our own worth from a few criticisms.

When they criticize, we need to repeat, "It's just business. It's just business..."

Stacey said...

I have lost a few clients here lately and some of it is my own fault. I get to busy and it can be hard to juggle them all. I also have decided that I'm not going to work harder for less pay and that can make some of your clients turn away from you.

You just kind of have to go with the flow.

Avid Writer said...

@lori: Your right. I have been guilty of taking criticism and other aspects of the business personally -- but I'm working on it! :)

@ stacy: Juggling projects can certainly be a challenge - especially when you add a family or another job to the mix. Some more experienced freelancers have assured me that eventually you get a knack for knowing how to space projects so that they don't all jumble up on you at once.

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