How to Deal with Difficult Clients as a Freelancer


Many freelancers have experienced working with problematic clients many times in their careers. While there are many amazing clients, the possibility of getting a difficult client is always there. These clients are those who don’t pay you on time (or at all), continue to give you work outside your scope, treat you poorly, and have numerous revisions to your work.

Demanding clients are a nightmare to work with. But there are ways to deal with them without hurting your reputation. Here are some tips:

Set the Right Expectation

Let the clients know what you can and can’t do and write them in the contract. Be specific when pointing out the tasks that you will do. Some clients have a bad habit of generalizing issues. They don’t give enough details about the job in their job posting. You can see some advanced freelance marketing tips to understand how to set the right expectation.

Make sure that during the interview, you and your client agree to the terms and conditions stipulated in the contract. If there are statements that sound ambiguous, discuss them first with the client before you start doing your work. For example, if the client wants to hire you as a web designer but also expects you to do SEO duties, inform the client that you are not comfortable doing the latter because you’re not trained for SEO work.

Set clients’expectations before you start working. This step will give your clients an idea where you stand and what are the limitations of your role.

Keep Communication Lines Open

With plenty of ways to send and receive messages, exchanging ideas can become a problem if you and your client failed to agree on what platform to use for communication. At the start of the contract, ask the clients what app they are on most of the time. If you don’t have a similar app installed yet,  download it online.

Consider the time difference between you and your clients and inform them what time you are available online. If you don’t work on weekends and holidays, let them know about this as well. Most clients expect that you respond to their messages right away. If you tell them ahead of time about your schedule, they don’t have a reason to reprimand you.

Follow Clients’ Instructions

Avoid conflicts by following your clients’ instructions at all times. If clients have precise instructions, do your best to support them, but also suggest ways to improve if you feel comfortable. If you have suggestions on how to make things better, you can talk to them and lay out your plans. Your clients have the right to accept or reject your proposals. If they don’t approve your suggestions, move on, and just do your job.

Don’t be too sensitive if the client rejects your ideas. Some clients don’t like to accept opinions from freelancers. If your clients are like them, don’t try to oppose their plans. Empathize with them even if you don’t agree to show your respect to them.

Record Important Information

It’s very frustrating to work for clients who keep on changing their minds or blaming you for something you did not agree on. If you have this type of client, make sure to record important transactions and conversations. You might need to present proof if they blame you again for a mishap.

Be Respectful

Clients want to feel that you respect them at all times. When you find yourself in disagreement with your clients, be careful when choosing the right words to say. Whatever it is that you don’t agree on, don’t utter a single word out of rage. When you become emotional, you say things that aggravate the situation instead of toning down the heat.

Listen to your clients attentively, and if they become hostile in their words, avoid fighting back. Instead, be calm and choose the right words to counter their aggression. It’s not easy, for sure, but that’s the only thing you can do in this situation.

Learn to Accept Their Personality

Learn to differentiate personality from good manners. Just like you, your clients have characters that make them unique. They cannot change it to make you feel comfortable working for them. For example, if you’re an introvert and your clients are too chatty, you might consider them as disruptors to your work, where in fact, they are just friendly.

Clients tend to become authoritative when giving you instructions, but the truth is, they are kind people. Your first impression might not be right as you get to know them more each day.

Learn to Let Go

Holding on to demanding clients can be detrimental to your health, and business. If a client is too much to handle, letting him/her go can be the best solution.

A problematic client can bring a lot of stress into your life. As a freelancer, you have the right to choose the client you want to work for. If your client mistreats you most of the time, learn to let him/her go. Your peace of mind is more important than a single client.