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#14 Freelance Mastery: How To Manage Problems

Learn how to manage problems as a freelance professional

80% of freelancers are happier than people working the traditional 9-5. What’s not to love? But, like any career, there are a few common issues, normally around clients. Luckily, we have some advice on how to manage these client freelance problems like a pro.

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The Client Is Unhappy With Your Work

You’re getting ready to invoice your client, and they turn around and say they’re unhappy with your work. How do you handle this?

  • For future projects, ask for regular feedback and start doing this early.
  • Acknowledge their disappointment. You don’t have to agree! 
  • Open up a dialogue on how to avoid this in future.
  • Offer a solution - maybe a partial refund or a little bit of extra time on another project.
  • But, be careful. Some clients could abuse this and expect freebies. Stand your ground! 

The Client Takes Ages To Pay, Or Doesn’t Pay On Time

There’s always that one client that just doesn’t want to pay out. Here’s a few ways to reduce risk for your business:

  • Reduce risk by arranging staggered payments for large projects, with a little bit up front. 
  • When a client is delayed in paying, send them a gentle reminder. They might be busy.
  • If they don’t respond, escalate it to the person paying the bill with the client on cc.
  • Call them - don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. 
  • Add a late fee to your invoice, and be prepared to waive it once the person pays.
  • If they still don’t pay? You could hire a lawyer - especially for large fees.

The Client Watches You Like A Hawk

They ask for status updates every day, they look at costing with a magnifying glass and set you impossible tasks and deadlines. You could manage them by:

  • Understanding them. Did a previous freelancer not deliver in the past?
  • Beat them to it - send them daily/ weekly updates so they know what’s happening.
  • Got a constantly changing priority list? Ask them what their top priority is.
  • Be clear on when you can deliver projects. Show them there is a cost to micromanaging.
  • Be super-detailed in your invoicing for new clients.

The Client Adds More Work, And The Project Scope Changes

Now extra work is great, right? But how do you avoid project creep? You can handle this by:

  • Charging an hourly rate, and updating the clients regularly on hours worked.
  • Take the extra work and start a good relationship with the client. 
  • Avoid being too strict with boundary setting - you can be firmer later on.
  • But, be very clear on the additional costs any new work will involve.

The Client And You Don’t Agree

Your client asks you to do something a bit borderline, or create something you know won’t benefit their business. What do you do?

  • Be upfront and tell them. You’re the expert, you don’t just have to agree with them.
  • Get it in writing! If they go against your advice, you need a record of why it went wrong.
  • If you have a choice, avoid the client, and their projects altogether.
  • If you don’t have a choice, look for longer-term ways to diversify your client portfolio.

Come Prepared With Your Freelance Mastery Toolkit

Freelance problems might arise in a variety of different ways, but generally speaking will fall into these categories. The key is to be ready for them so you can keep growing your business. What’s the worst that can happen? You no longer work together. Sometimes clients will be difficult, the key is to develop relationships with the ones that will benefit your business.

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