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Are your clients holding back your freelance business?

Are your clients holding back your freelance business?

By Anthony Sostre

I've been freelancing for over three years, and today I learned that it's not always obvious which clients are holding you back.

If you're reading this and thinking "How can a client hold you back?", you may be in the same boat. Let me explain.

But first, let's talk about the 3 types of clients.

Let's call them Type A, B, and C.

Your Type A clients are the ideal clients. They provide a good quantity of work, they pay well, and they are a pleasure to deal with.

Then you have Type B clients. They might meet two of the three criteria for becoming a Type A client, but they're not quite there on the last one. For example, they may be a pleasure to work with, pay well, but they don't provide enough work.

Finally, you have the clients that you know are bad for business. They don't pay enough, they're difficult to work with, and they provide too little work. Those are the Type C clients. You likely have someone in mind who falls into this category.

Which clients are holding you back?

Your Type A clients are amazing. They don't hold you back, and you should strive to have all Type A clients. No shocker here.

Type C clients are obviously holding you back. They drag you down with negotiations about pricing, revisions for the work, and constant communication. They likely don't pay your desired hourly rate, and on top of that may not send enough work.

It's clear that Type C clients are not profitable for your freelance business and should be dropped. If you've not fired your Type C clients yet, that's where you should start.

If you're worried about losing the income they provide (reasonable), it may be tempting to wait until you've gained a new client to fire them. Here's where these clients can really drag you down. If you're successfully freelancing, chances are your hours are pretty close to full. When that's the case, there's not much time to close a new client.

Plus, you've got to consider that you may not have the time to deliver the work a new client needs done! You could lose a Type A client because you didn't fire the Type C client. That's simply not a trade anyone should make.

As for Type B clients, they are a hidden weight that holds you down but isn't noticeable until close inspection. See, they are good clients — but if they're not your ideal client, it means you're not maximizing your potential.

You could be earning less than you would with Type A clients or spending too much time on back and forth communication because you're not on the same page.

The Solution

Luckily, the process for fixing this issue is rather simple.

  • Fire Type C clients right away. They are hurting your business.
  • Try to convert as many of your Type B clients into to type A. This could mean raising your prices, setting better guidelines and expectations, or letting them know you're available to take on more work.
  • Focus your sales and marketing efforts on Type A clients exclusively.

Don't let your clients hold you back any longer!