5 Ways to Deal with Difficult Clients

Handling client concerns is not always easy. As a freelancer, you will encounter different kinds of people with different work styles. There may be those who don’t know what they want, those who ask for the impossible, and those who keep changing their minds. You may even have to face last-minute requests, confusing project briefs, non-existent payments, and personality clashes, among other things.

A freelancer-client relationship is a delicate one. Here’s how to deal.

Know the boundaries. Everyone involved should be aware of all the details at the very start. Identify all limitations as well as any roadblocks you might experience during the course of the project. Prepare a roadmap or timeline to guide you and your clients. Have a contract in place if you can. This way, expectations are clear from the beginning, and when clients change their minds or request things outside of what you initially talked about, you can always go back to the document you both agreed on for reference.

Ask questions. Don’t shy away from requesting clarifications when something about the job confuses you. Project briefs aren’t always easy to understand, so ask the employer for an explanation instead of basing it all on guesswork.

Pick your battles. You won’t always get the nicest of clients. You might not think the same, or you might not even like each other. There are times when you’ll find that you and your clients don’t agree on certain issues. They might even be difficult for no reason. Whatever it is, you have to know when to pick your battles.

Weigh the pros and cons before you decide to talk to your client about a problem. Ask yourself if the issue affects your work so much that you have to address it, or if it’s something trivial that you can let go. Keep an open mind about personality clashes – you can’t please everyone and vice versa after all.

Keep an eye on the clock. Have an employer who is fond of making last-minute requests? Ever feel like the hours you’re paid are not enough for all the hours you’re putting in? Be mindful of your time. If the client doesn’t give you enough time to do your job, let them know and ask them if they can extend your hours. If they won’t, have them look at the project timeline and explain the delay that last-minute request is going to cause.

Remember to keep track of the time you spend working as well, especially when you’re billing by the hour. The Freelancer Desktop App will help both you and your client verify hours and collaborate more effectively without wasting time.

Watch over your earnings. Not getting paid for work done is a nightmare for any freelancer. If your pay is late or non-existent, follow up with your client. If the reason given for non-payment is that you didn’t provide the work that was agreed on, you may either ask for a chance to improve your work, or go back to your initial agreement and explain how you were faithful to it. Realistically-speaking, there will be instances when you will have to break up with a client for non-payment, or a client will have to break up with you for not meeting expectations.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Request for a milestone payment before beginning work. It requires the employer to pay you for a milestone rather than waiting until everything is done to release payment for the entire project. It will give both of you a sense of security – the client will get to see your work and know what to expect from you, and you will know that the client isn’t shady and is willing to pay.

Client handling is part and parcel of being a freelancer. Tread carefully, always look before you leap, follow these tips, and you’ll be fine. 

flJulls
flJulls Staff

Content Manager, Freelancer.com

I'm a professional wordsmith. I watch over content at Freelancer.com. I used to edit technology and fashion magazines in a past life. I'm a toy nerd, a lipstick fiend, a foodie, and a Magic: The Gathering noob. During my off-hours, I read books, listen to rock music, and document everything in pictures.

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