A Diplomatic Approach to Bad Clients

As is the case with any other kind of business, freelance writers like me will inevitably encounter difficult customers. It can be very easy to lose your cool and get into a shouting match with these so-called “bad” clients, but this may not be the best approach in the long run.

Sometimes, it’s better to bite your tongue and do your best to maintain a professional and diplomatic approach to these challenging customers. It’s partly because I’ve managed to remain mostly cordial with everyone that I encounter that I haven’t applied for a gig in over two years; customers come to me and that’s how I like it.

Difficult clients take on all forms. Some of them will continue to haggle for price, even after you’ve both agreed on a quote for a specific project. Some of them will try to push additional work into your project after the fact, saying that these additional services should be included in the original quote. Some of them may change up the deadline or even the subject material along the way, frustrating your creative process. These are all great challenges, but they should be handled in a calm, professional, and assertive manner.

Even if you do not intend on working with this particular client again in the future, it’s important that you avoid burning any bridges. This is because if you treat this client poorly, he may go on to tell his colleagues and business associates about his “bad” customer service experience. This hurts your reputation and it hurts your opportunities for growth. Even if you have your disagreements, maintain a diplomatic approach. Don’t be confrontational and don’t get angry.

When push comes to shove, you may need to use the most powerful word in your vocabulary as a freelancer: no. If they ask if you can include additional tasks as part of the project without any additional payment, you can say no. However, follow that “no” with an alternative solution that is mutually beneficial. In lieu of additional up-front payment, for instance, you could arrange for a passive income setup in some way. Be creative.

While you may think that the writing part of a freelance writing career is going to present the greatest challenge, the frustrations and difficulties can oftentimes arise in other areas related to running a successful business. There are legal issues. There are accounting problems. And then there are “bad” clients. You must be prepared to tackle them all and handle them in such a way to ensure the future success of your endeavor.