Why firing toxic clients is one of the best things you can do as a freelancer



When you’re freelancing, you have many different bosses. All with different expectations. Different needs. And different aims.

And sometimes you get clients which you don’t want, don’t value, and shouldn’t have hired you in the first place. These people and companies are toxic.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been a freelance copywriter. Lots of my business has come through Odesk – there’s been some great clients there.

But I got a nice warm lead from a business-focused online newspaper offline through a friend. They had a variety of sales emails, and other pieces of work, which they wanted to outsource. So I thought it’d be a good opportunity.

So we had a starter task of writing an email to attract entries for their talent competition. So I sent a first draft. They liked it, and wanted a few tweaks. So we made a few tweaks. I sent it back, and they wanted just a few more twiddles.  So we fixed those.

And it was all ready to send out, as the marketing director told me. However, she just needed to ok it with her CEO.

OK fair enough.

And then their CEO rewrote the email from scratch. Wanting it to be much more serious and formal.

It went from this…

Subject: You’re great to work for! Now show London

Hi {firstname}

If you’re like most businesspeople we speak to in London, finding the right staff is tough… and holding onto those people is even tougher.

You’re not alone. A recent study by Oxford Economics and Hays showed that the UK has one of world’s largest skills mismatches. Likewise, Pricewaterhouse Coopers notes that replacing your best members of staff costs a year of their salary on average.

Of course, that’s not news to you. You’ll have waded though plenty of unsuitable CVs, had interviews with the wrong candidates… and you may have pleaded for your best staff to stay.

But being the great employer you are, the X Awards are your chance to shine. We’re celebrating the companies and people who invest in talent development to retain top staff.

to this…

Dear Mr Bloggs

We are passionate about celebrating talent as one of the key components of driving the business and economic growth this country desperately needs. The X awards, supported by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be part of that celebration.

We have a stunning judging panel; a line-up of business leaders, entrepreneurs and public figures all known for their expertise and advocacy of the value of excellent talent management initiatives and programmes within business. Chaired by Somebody with an MBE, chairman and co-, they include someone, CEO of something; Jez , Vice President at somewhere; Will someone, Founder and CEO of Somehwere; Charlie X, Founder and CEO of Y; Harvey Someone, Co-Chair of the Mayor of London’s Enterprise & Skills Panel;  Chairman of Crossrail; click here for the full list of judges

Winning an X award will be recognition of your company’s commitment to nurturing talent and enhancing the profile of your company. It also gives you the chance to demonstrate your company’s culture to develop your staff’s skills and leadership….. blah blah blah

If you’re going to hire a freelance copywriter don’t get them to spend hours writing, and sending it back and forth… and then starting again from scratch.

If you think you can do it better than me… write it yourself.

Where is the ‘you’ in this email? Who do you think you’re talking to? More importantly, why should anyone care one iota about what you’re saying?

So I fired the client and politely said that I don’t think I can please the CEO and produce something that people want to take action on.

How to spot a bad client

If you’re freelancing, you’ll be able to spot these people from a mile away. They always want changes. They always seem to be pennypinching on your rate. They claim to never have much time, but always have time to nitpick everything.

And ultimately they’re people you don’t want to work with.

Have you been freelance and had an experience similar to this? How do you spot bad clients yourself? How do you focus on getting good clients? Leave a comment below.

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