Ahh, the life of a freelance writer. We scrape, we hope, we dig. All in the name of finding a client. When it looks like we’ve landed a job, we are elated about the possibilities and grateful to face the prospect of some income. Unicorns and rainbows, I tell you, unicorns and rainbows. If only reality had received the memo. I have had one or two experiences like that but most of the time, the critter at the end did not look like the critter at the beginning. Most of the changes that take place as the project chugs along are tolerable and easily managed. Sometimes, the changes are just too much to bear and it becomes time to bid fair-thee-well to a client.
As you can imagine, I’ve recently had an experience along these lines.
I had a potential client get in touch recently. In terms of background, it’s important to know that this person is a friend and former neighbor. He told me of a project he wanted done for his business. We met and after hearing what he was looking for, I explained what I knew a project like this would entail and what the most likely time frame would be. We came to agreement on price and he promptly cut me a check to get the work started.
Soon after, things started to go south.
From the outset, I told him there way some key information that I needed from him before I could proceed in earnest. The project necessitated a specific A-B-C order. B and C were moot until A was known. Within about a week I started receiving messages asking how the project was coming along. My initial replies were friendly enough, specific and clear. I needed “A.” Next, he wanted a face to face meeting to again discuss the project. We met, I reiterated the need for “A” and all he wanted to discuss was “B.”
Shortly, I started receiving terse text messages wanting a project update. My messages back were a bit less friendly than before and clearly stated the need for “A.” Finally, he sent a document that provided some information, but not everything needed. Almost immediately, he wanted to have a meeting between me, himself and another key player whom I’d been in phone contact with. First, the meeting was wholly unnecessary given where the project currently was sitting. Second, a phone conversation would have worked just fine. Finally, he wanted the meeting to be late in the evening in a town 40 miles away. With much inner grumbling, I agreed to the meeting. I made the drive only to find that he wasn’t going to be able to make it and he neglected to inform the other key player that there even was a meeting. I fumed.
It was about then that I began serious consideration to returning the initial funds and firing the client. In addition to being miffed about the meeting, all I could think of was that if things were this bad early on, what the hell would it be like six months down the road when we were in the thick of it.
I haven’t fired him yet, but I think it probably isn’t too far in the future. So, my title question still stands: When do you fire a client? Have you ever fired a client? When did you do so and why did you do it?