Freelance Fridays: What to Do When Your Client Wants to Cancel, Part 1

We’ve all been there.

Sooner or later, every freelancer will run across a client who wants to cancel services. Reasons run the gamut from cost expectations to design disagreements. Perhaps you just don’t work well together.  Worse yet, your client may never have intended  to pay you. Sometimes, it’s your fault.

Occasionally, it’s none of the above.

I ran into this situation this morning, actually. A prospective client had inquired about editing work. During the interview process I learned that the client had already consulted a competitor, but I agreed to review a copy sample and send her my comments so she could make an informed decision.

She loved everything. My work, my rates, my schedule flexibility, my payment options. But she felt somewhat committed to her first contact and was uncomfortable with the idea of letting that editor down.

In this scenario, the only professional thing to do was wish her well and send her back to her original editor. We didn’t have a contract; the only work I’d performed for her was a free service I’d chosen to offer, no strings attached. If it’s the client’s uncomfortable, the client’s uncomfortable, and no level of schmoozing

on my part is going to help someone else resolve a battle with her own conscience.

While it’s understandably frustrating for us writers to be spending so much of our time interviewing and attracting new work (freelancing can feel like an endless job hunt some days), it’s important to keep in mind that the client does not owe you a job. Until you have a set agreement in place, that client is a free agent. It’s up to you to make your clients want to stay.


Check back next week for Part Two of this series!

Leave a Reply