When Is It Time To Fire Your Client?

Business 13/09/2019 4 min read

So, you know from one of our previous posts how to keep clients coming back. But what about those times you don’t want the client to come back?

The truth is, everyone wants to work, and everyone wants to make money, but sometimes it’s not worth the hassle to deal with a bad client.

So, when do you know when it’s time to let go of a client and get on with your life? Take note of these situations and consider if it’s worth letting go.

Please Pay Me

We all know those clients. They ask you for a ton of revisions, they don’t understand the concept of scope, and when it comes time for payment, they can’t seem to remember to drop the check in the mail.

While that client profile may seem familiar, there are also really nice clients who never seem to pay on time either. The point is, you deserve to be paid, and you deserve to be paid on time. Even if you really like a client, if they don’t pay, you shouldn’t play.

Freelancers and business owners don’t have the security of knowing a steady paycheck is coming every week. So, we plan our spending around expected payments. An unreliable client can throw off a whole month.

Use your energy to find clients who appreciate and respect your time by paying you on time, and let go of the mooch client, even if you do really like them.


We aren’t talking about revisions here. Any client has the right to not like what you are putting out. It happens all the time. After all, art is subjective.

But that doesn’t give a client the right to treat you like a child…or worse. Some clients feel that since they are paying you for your time, they can say anything they want. Or that they can make unreasonable requests over and over again.

If you are trying to win a client over, sometimes you may make sacrifices like working late or giving them an extra round of revisions on the house. But when a client fails to recognize your contributions and instead expects you to bend over backward, again and again, it’s time to stop bending.

And if they can’t treat you like the talented artist you are and respect that you are a human, well, then you can do better.

You can start by trying to manage their expectations. You can gently let them know that you are working very hard and that their job is important. But when you start to cringe every time they call or e-mail, it’s time to cut them loose and let someone else deal with their drama.

It Never Ends

We just mentioned that revisions happen. It’s true. In fact, here are 5 things you can do to avoid client revisions. But we all know you can’t avoid them entirely.

However, there are some clients that don’t know when to put a project to bed. In most cases, you aren’t creating the Mona Lisa, and perfection just isn’t in the cards. Budgets and deadlines require a certain amount of flexibility.

This one is tricky. After all, there is a fine line between too many revisions, and you just not being able to deliver what’s being asked. But, after you’ve been at it for a while, you can usually tell the difference.

If a client is consistently asking for too many changes, and if they never seem happy, you can start by imposing penalties. Be clear at the beginning of how many rounds of revisions are included with the budget. And let them know when they are approaching overages.

If that doesn’t work and you find yourself spending every weekend working on revisions, consider making the break. Sometimes, life is more important than changing all of the background colors by two shades or making each transition 5 frames longer.

Look, working with clients is always going to have its fair share of headaches. And many times it’s not even the client’s fault. We artists can be hard to work with too. It’s a give and take, and we do want to work after all.

But when you start dreading the client call, when you have to really wonder if it’s worth it to take that new project, then it probably isn’t. Spend as much time as you can developing solid client relationships with respectful clients, so when the bad ones come knocking, you can send them packing.

Oh, and generally, do your best to let them down gently. You never know where the word will travel, and you don’t want a bad client to do more damage by saying bad things about you behind your back.

Now, get back to work already. That deadline is fast approaching!