4 Ways To Cope When a Freelance Writing Client Dumps You

when a freelance writing client dumps you

It’s happened to all of us. You’re just sitting down to get started on a new assignment when you hear an email notification. You nonchalantly glance at your phone, expecting it to be a shipping update for the whalebone fountain pen set signed by Ernest Hemingway you just bought. Instead, it’s an unexpected email from a client.

“We regret to inform you that…”

Oh no. You were counting on this client to provide you with caviar money for the month. Now they’re telling you they can’t afford to keep you on because your retainer is costing half of their monthly budget. You sigh and send them a reply, telling them that cashing the weekly five-digit sum they paid you to write for them were some of the greatest moments in your career, and wish them all the best, making sure to mention you’re interested in collaborating with them in the future if an opportunity opens up once again. You walk across to your elegantly appointed bar and pour yourself a glass of twelve-year-old scotch when it hits: the entire reason you came to the office this morning was to work on your now ex-client’s assignment. Taking a sip of the smooth, fiery spirit, you slump back into your high-backed office throne, and ponder one question:

What now?

OK. So perhaps it didn’t happen quite like this, but the fact still holds true that we all lose valued clients at times. Just as when a loved one passes, the five stages of grief apply for losing clients, too. Unlike losing precious family or loved ones though, it’s paramount to keep in mind that there will always be other clients. And like in my incredibly relatable example, the door that just closed might reopen again. We just can’t bet on it. But there are some constructive ways we can work through our grief and back to caviar on Tuesdays.

4 Ways To Cope When A Freelance Writing Client Dumps You


1. Update your resume

While it might seem like a no-brainer, it’s something that could be easily overlooked. Freelancers get so busy with other assignments and their personal lives that it’s easy to forget to keep our self-promotion pages current. The resume is, of course, the go-to resource, but don’t forget about your ever-more-detailed CV. In addition, update places like your personal website or online writing portfolio, your LinkedIn page, and any other relevant social media pages. Let people know that you’re back on the market, and the new bit of experience you’ve just gained has made you a more robust, more appealing writer, and people should take advantage of your newly-found free time.

2. Reach out

Speaking of free time, since you’re down a client, now’s the perfect time to check on the old ones you’ve become friends with along the way to see if they might need your help once again. Worth a shot, right? Worst case scenario, they say no. Second worst case? You might get a free lunch. Either way, you’re putting yourself back on their radar, getting them to think about you for at least a moment, and that’s definitely worth an email. Your friends might not have something for you, but your friends have networks of their own they can talk to, and maybe a friend of a friend has something that could be just right.

3. Work on personal projects

Let’s face it: for better or worse, you’ve got some free time now. And while some of us became writers to crank out pieces on latex foam mattresses or reviews of different adult diapers, just as many of us do it to keep the lights on while we work on the things we truly love in secret — the files tucked away in our computer where no one else can see. We rarely ever get the time to work on them, and when we can it’s something that reignites our passion for the work we do. Well, until you can find something else, now’s the perfect time to work on your own little something. Possibly even finish it. And hopefully, the smashing success of your little pet project can be your new income stream.

4. Get back on that grind

So you’ve got an updated resume, no leads from your friends or your friends’ friends, and your dream project — while making you want to write more than ever — has been optioned by Hollywood for a paltry six-figure sum. That’s barely enough for three months of your Maserati lease, let alone fuel for your personal jet. It seems like you’re going to need to find some new clients. But you can’t leave home because you need to be there to bottle-feed the white tiger cubs you keep in your backyard which also doubles as a wildlife preserve. Well, The Writer’s Job Board, of course, has some wonderful opportunities, and updates at least three times a week with work-from-home and remote opportunities for writers such as yourself. 

LinkedIn, Contena, and a myriad of other websites can be helpful places to find aggregates of the possibilities out there for you. However, if there are people or places you would like to work with specifically, always make the effort to contact them as directly as possible. You’ll make a much bigger splash showing up in someone’s inbox with a direct personal message than you will in a batch email from a jobs site telling the recruiter that you and 7,500 other people replied to their posting.

It’s never easy when a freelance writing client dumps you. But, it’s just part of the business—try not to take it too personally. Follow my tips and you’ll be back on the road to happy writing in no time.

We know there’s more out there, so why don’t you leave us a comment and let us know what we missed? Best of luck, and warm wishes for clients who, to quote Mr. Astley, never give you up, and never let you down.


Ricardo Castano IV

Rick is a writer, editor, and citizen of the internet. He's written for TV, radio, print, blogs, websites ebooks, and edited all the above. He likes writing stories that make people feel things and barbecuing food that he eats way too much of. He likes having clients too, so check him out over at RicksWriting.com to see what he can do for you. He high-fived a bear once.

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