1. … You ignored your gut instinct
Everything about the client spelt trouble with a capital T.
His telephone manner was dismissive, his emails barely civil, but we still took on his project, because we were professionals, and managing difficult clients was part of our repertoire as an agency, right?
Oh, the gift of hindsight!
The client took on average, two weeks to respond to emails, wouldn’t review the content we’d written, ignored our phone calls, and would send us email missives instructing us to take on additional work outside the scope of the project.
The straw that broke the camel’s back
A few months after (and way past the project completion date), I called him, ostensibly, to terminate the contract and was met with a litany of wrongdoings on our part, and nothing about him haranguing my writers, ignoring our emails, telephone calls, and just generally, being a pain in the ass.
After the phone call, I fired off an email to him terminating our contract and wishing him well in his business.
What I should’ve done from the beginning
Listened to my gut instinct and run in the opposite direction after my first phone call with the client, instead of making excuses for him (he runs a multimillion company in a competitive industry, that’s why he’s brusque etc).
Only he wasn’t brusque. He was a bully and he was rude.
2. You let your clients lead the project
Contrary to popular opinion, the customer is not always right. You’re the expert, so why are you letting your clients lead the project? They hired you, because of your expertise in copywriting. While you and your client may not agree on some elements of your project (for example, writing style), if you find yourself saying yes to every change request, then you need to ask yourself why your client thinks it is okay to challenge every decision you make, and expect you to acquiesce to their every demand.
The other issue is why you haven’t got a limit to the number of revisions the client can ask for, before your premium pricing kicks in, but I digress…
Your clients are human. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. If they keep on questioning your decisions or your work, then you need to have The Conversation with them.
Here’s an opener (and feel free to amend as necessary – and remember to keep things civil):
You hired me for the project, because you believed that I could do a great job. However, recent events have led me to question this. What’s changed and how can we get back on track to deliver a great project for your company?
3. They are not your ideal customer
I know I keep on going on about having the ideal customer, but that’s because it’s important. If you are delivering projects for your ideal customers and things are not going well, somehow (and don’t ask me how), it’s a lot less stressful than dealing with clients who aren’t even in your target market in the first place.
You can download your free customer persona template.
4. Your work is shoddy
I know when I’ve done shoddy work for a client. And it’s usually because I’ve spread myself too thin, in which case, your customer has every right to be mad and disrespectful of your work.
If this happens, don’t bury your head in the sand. Own the fiasco, make amends, and if you would rather not work with the client again (because you’re embarrassed about the way things have turned out), then offer them an alternative. That way, you’ll regain their trust and respect, and (in time), your confidence in your work and yourself will be rebuilt again.
Our freelance templates have everything you need (copywriting agreements, email scripts and pitches, and more) to run a successful freelance business (including having respectful clients :)). Check out them out.
Also published on Medium.