Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Are Your Clients Hanging by a Thread?

I got to thinking this week about a client that has been hanging on by a thread. Dangling, if you will.

This client seems to dangle because, as one of my steady jobs, my hours have steadily decreased over the past six months. Still, they insist there will be more hours. They also admit they've changed some internal processes and don't need me to put in as many hours.

On many occasions, I have thought about dropping the client. Sometimes to beg for hours is a drag, and I can spend more time submitting an invoice than I do on actual work for them. Still, I've hung on--just like they have to me.

But what do you do when a client hangs on like that? Just the mere mental reminder that the client is on your roster can be stressful. Or you may not want to take on another project because they've promised you work, or you swear that this will be the week they give you that big project you've been waiting for.

You know, after a while you harden up a little (at least, I have). It doesn't make me a freelancer who doesn't care, it just makes me a little more business savvy.

Here are some tips for dangling clients:

Talk to the client. In my case, I explained that I needed a certain number of hours with them or I'd need to get another job. I explained that I still wanted to work for them. In my case, the dangler understood and wound up retaining me. Hours still suffer so now they know to ask if I'm busy with something else, as opposed to when I was more of a part-time employee and they just gave me assignments.

Don't burn bridges. I'm a big believer in this. Even though I thought about dropping this client, I realized that there was no reason to do so. If the gig is that much of a pain, you may not want to give an explanation for leaving, but do it politely.

Take it in stride. Okay, so my hours dropped with that client. I was smart enough to get another steady client that paid even better. Always have a pipeline of more work. Let's face it--departments get restructured, clients find new talent, things go awry. That's part of the game, and can be a huge blessing in disguise.

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link | posted by Kristen at 6:05 PM |

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