Hello! Welcome to the first-ever post of Ask Kate, a recurring series, in which I – a freelancer with both experience AND an uncanny ability to burp the entire alphabet - will answer questions from the Freelancers Union community!
Unless I don’t know the answer, in which case I will probably ~~ignore your question ~~source a more knowledgeable expert in the relevant field.
This week’s question:
“Is there a nice way to say goodbye to a client? I just found a new more time-consuming client and don't have time for the old client.”
Hi, fellow freelancer!
First of all, congratulations! A more time-consuming client probably means a more lucrative client. So this is a nice problem to have; it’s always good to be TOO popular, right?
Second of all, the good news is that this is a fairly minor problem.
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While freelancers tend to view the end of client relationships in stark and negative terms, most businesses take them as a matter of course, and not necessarily permanent.
It’s just business, it’s not personal. There is scarcely a client in the world who believes you would always be working for them, forever, ad infinitum.
Unless you signed a contract in your own blood, it’s perfectly reasonable to eventually move on from any given client.
Since this is indeed a minor dilemma, make sure to approach it in a cordial, polite, calm way.
Don’t inject any unnecessary tension or melodrama into the situation, and resist the urge to overshare (“I’m leaving you because my new client pays me more” is not a great phrase to use, for example).
There are MANY good ways to say “goodbye” professional, but a quick, friendly, vaguely regretful phone call or email is probably easiest.
Hi, Client X!
I have some mixed news. The demands of my freelancing work have recently been changing in exciting ways – but that’s required some adjustments to my schedule.
Unfortunately, I am going to have to officially give two weeks’ notice for my current work with you.
I will be sure to complete all projects by [date X], and of course I will be available to speak about how to make this a smooth transition for you!
While I’m sad to leave you, I know your [business] will continue to grow and thrive – and I’m happy to recommend some great freelancers to you as replacements.
Let me know what I can do to help beyond closing out my projects… and again, while I’m excited to begin a new chapter, I’m so sorry to leave you.
It’s been a tremendous opportunity.
All my best,
Make sure you give AT LEAST two weeks’ notice, if at all possible; I like to give a month, if I can.
Do express regret at leaving, and throw in a plug for great freelance friends - it helps your client transition without panic, and is awesome karma.
Close out your projects conscientiously, and on your last day, follow up with a nice thank-you note or email.
Above all, try not to stress!
You won’t burn a bridge, unless this client is prone to taking things far too personally (and who wants to work with overly-touchy clients, anyhow).
Odds are that your client will take it quite calmly, and get along fine once you’re gone. I know that it has always been a devastating blow to my ego to find out that workplaces hum along quite happily without my freelance input.
Really, how dare they?
Congrats on the new gig!
Have a question for Kate? Leave it in the comments!
Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.