Ok, I'll admit it, the title of this post is a little harsh, but if you've been freelancing for a while, you feel me. I'm not going to paint a pretty picture and tell you every client is a walk in the park, because the reality is that you'll get asshole clients knocking at your door. And sometimes...you'll let them in. And let me tell you, I've had some doozies in my day. Oh, I've got stories to tell - but not today.
When I say emotions, this could range from upset with tears all the way down to uncontrollable rage - neither is ideal when speaking with a client. And you don't want any of that negative juju up in your business.
So, this is my top reason, simply because I've seen what can go down when someone gets angry at a client. It's a small world, especially if your freelancing business is very niched. I've seen freelancers destroy their businesses because of one angry email to the wrong person. The truth is, people talk - and they like to talk smack about other people. You know the old saying 'bad news travels fast'. Ain't it the truth.
Whenever I say this, I can hear my mother's nagging voice in my head because she would say this to me all. the. time. when I started my business. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right.
I once got into a very heated argument with a fellow freelancer when we were working together at an agency. In the end, I apologized to her and extended an olive branch. We parted ways and I thought I would never hear from her again. Years later, she helped me to land a massive 6-figure client. Had I burned the bridge, it wouldn't have led me to client paradise.
I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to let things go when someone riles me up. I'll think about it all day long. And then the next day, and the next day. All of that stress isn't good on our body and mind. Your business should never compromise your health. Learn to let things go, either the situation or the client.
Here are some ways you can keep things in check to maintain your client relationships:
It's too easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and send an angry email or shoot your mouth off. If I feel like things are getting heated, I'll simply step away from my computer. I'll close the top of my laptop and go for a walk, meditate, grab lunch or whatever you need to do to think things through for 30 minutes or so. You'll be amazed by how much easier a professional (and level-headed) solution will come to you if you simply step away.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to be known as a cussing freelancer who always wants to get their way. If a client is angry, hear them out. If you know they're wrong or they're compromising your business' integrity, then simply say thanks, but no thanks. There's no need to get into a slinging match with them, even if they provoke you. You'll walk away with your integrity - and possibly some respect from your client.
It's too easy to jump to the conclusion that they're assholes. In reality, clients are sometimes just very inexperienced and say or do things that just rub our experienced minds the wrong way. I always say, they don't know what they don't know. When I catch myself getting frustrated, I take a step back and look at it from their perspective. Sometimes, it just takes a little patience to explain the situation. I like to a) record a video using Loom to explain the situation or b) jump on a quick call to smooth things over (after I've calmed down).
If they're still acting like an asshole, remind them that they hired you for your expertise and they need to trust you.
When I first onboard a client, I like to have a sit-down conversation with them about our future, just like I would in a romantic relationship. I explain that we'll have ups and downs, good times and bad times - that's the reality of a relationship. As long as we have open communication and good working rapport, we'll be able to handle any situation that comes our way.
But, just like any relationship, you'll know if a client is not suited to you. It may be a difference in style, communication, or who knows, maybe even your star signs aren't aligned! If you're consistently fighting, being disrespected, or undermined, it may be time to move on.
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