A Freelancer's Guide to Building Healthy Client Relationships | Rebecca Livermore | Skillshare

A Freelancer's Guide to Building Healthy Client Relationships

Rebecca Livermore, Microsoft Office for Creatives

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12 Lessons (1h 3m)
    • 1. Intro

      2:00
    • 2. Interview the Potential Client

      5:31
    • 3. Contracts and Proposals

      10:32
    • 4. Get Paid on Time

      6:02
    • 5. Train Your Clients

      4:47
    • 6. Going the Extra Mile

      4:49
    • 7. Keep Short Accounts

      1:36
    • 8. Position Yourself to Fire Clients

      6:53
    • 9. 5 Reasons to Let a Client Go

      11:31
    • 10. Don't Burn Bridges

      3:24
    • 11. Recover from Toxic Clients

      4:54
    • 12. Your Project

      0:49

About This Class

Hello and welcome to a Freelancer's Guide to Building Healthy Client Relationships. I’m Rebecca Livermore from Professional Content Creation.com 

Seven years ago I left my job that I absolutely loved to transition into freelancing full time. My freelancing has ranged from writing to content management to podcast production to virtual assistant work. For the most part, I’ve loved it, and I’ve had the privilege of working for some amazing people such as Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, Pat Flynn, Marcus Sheridan, and Scott Stratten 

But I’ve also worked for some toxic clients that caused me a lot of pain. I’ve done a lot of things right and a lot wrong, and in this class I share with you what I've learned through that process about how to build healthy client relationships.  

Whether you’re a new or experienced freelancer or independent contractor, if you want to learn how to improve client relationships and avoid toxic clients, this class is for you.  

In this class you’ll learn: 

  • How to interview potential clients. This will help you to spot the bad apples and eliminate clients that aren’t a good fit. 
  • The difference between proposals and contracts, when to use each one, and what to include in them. 
  • How to get paid on time. 
  • How to train your clients so they treat you with respect and honor your time. 
  • How to position yourself to fire toxic clients so you never feel stuck in a bad working relationship. 
  • 4 tips for recovering from a nightmare client. 
  • And of course, so much more!  

In this class I share some personal stories that I’ve never shared before publicly. I do that so that you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully avoid them yourself.  

By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan in place for doing work you love, for clients you enjoy, so you can create the freelancing business of your dreams.  

 

Transcripts

1. Intro: hello and welcome to how to build healthy, quiet relationships. I'm Rebecca Livermore from professional consecration dot com. Seven years ago, I left my job that I absolutely loved to transition into freelancing full time. My freelancing has ranged from writing to content management, podcast production and virtual assistant work. For the most part, I've loved it, and I've had the privilege of working for some amazing people such as Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, market share, then Pat Flynn and Scott Stratten. But I've also worked for some toxic clients that actually cause me a lot of pain. I've done a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong, and in this class I share with you what I've learned about how to build healthy client relationships, whether you're a new or experienced freelancer or independent contractor. If you want to learn how to improve client relationships and avoid toxic clients, this class is for you. In this class, you'll learn how to interview potential clients, and this goes a long way toward helping you spot the bad apples before you agree to work for them. The difference between proposals and contracts wind to use them and what to include in them how to get paid on time, how to train your clients. And if you implement the tips in this lesson, you'll have clients that respect you and honor your time. How to position yourself to fire toxic clients. Four tips for recovering from a nightmare client and, of course, so much more. In this class, I share some personal stories, many of which I've never shared before publicly, and I do that so that you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully avoid them yourself as your project For this class, you'll create a profile of your ideal client as well as list the types of clients or work you want to avoid. You'll also create a personal plan for positioning yourself to fire clients that aren't a good fit. So what are we waiting for? Let's go ahead and dive in 2. Interview the Potential Client: as a freelancer, it's easy to focus on trying toe land a client, but you can expect better results if you turn that around and focus on the client needing to sell you on taking them on now, this doesn't mean that you'll tell them that they have to convince you. Nor does it mean that you shouldn't put your best foot forward in the interview process. But if you can shift your mindset to being the one doing the interviewing rather than being the one interviewed, you'll avoid coming across as desperate as an example. Think back to how you responded to someone that seem desperate to be in a relationship with you. Chances are you felt smothered and just wanted to run away from them. In contrast, if you were interested in someone and they were decent to you but a bit aloof, you probably felt intrigued and more interested. The same basic dynamic works in business relationships. Now it's fine to express interest in a client relationship, but the potential client will value you more if you avoid coming across as desperate right from the beginning. This lack of desperation positions you to negotiate, but there's another component that I want to share with you, and that is that it's better to eliminate the wrong client from the start rather than taking on a client out of desperation. Now I understand that this is really difficult at the beginning if you don't have any or enough clients and you need to pay the bills. But the wrong client not only wears you down, but they rob you of the time you have to devote to the right clients. One thing that I found helpful in the interview process is to talk with the clients about their needs and expectations. For example, what type of task do they need to have done? What is their work style? Do they like a lot of face to face or video interaction? Do they like frequent phone calls? Well, what about email and text? Do they typically take weekends and holidays off? What kind of budget do they have? What time in the morning do they start work? When you ask these types of questions, you find out whether or not you have compatible work styles. For instance, as an introvert, while I'm willing to have a certain amount of phone calls, video chats or in person meetings. I prefer email and text communication. So if I perceived that someone wants to have multiple phone calls every week, they're probably not a good fit now. In contrast, you may really like a lot of face to face time with someone and hate to communicate by email or text. The only right answer here is to determine what works best for you and, as much as possible, eliminate clients that strongly prefer an opposite work style. Another thing I'd like to encourage you to do is to be honest about your weaknesses. Now this is the opposite of what most people do in an interview. But this honesty fosters trust, and it also helps the client make a better decision about whether or not you're a good fit for them. And really, the bottom line is you don't want to be working for someone that you're not a good fit for , so it's really better to be eliminated if that's the case. In addition to that, if you're honest about your weaknesses, it eliminates or at least reduces the chance that they'll be upset with you down the road. If they asked you to do something outside your areas of strength. When considering your weaknesses, break them into two categories. First, things that you're not good at and have no desire to dio. And secondly, things you don't yet know how to do or not very good at but are interested in and willing to learn. For instance, I'm not good at spreadsheets, and I don't like them because of that. I would let a potential client that heavily uses spreadsheets know that I'm not good at Excel. And while I'm happy to inner basic information into a spreadsheet, I'm really, really bad at creating spreadsheets. In contrast, if the potential client expresses a need for something that I either don't know how to do or don't do well. But I'm interested in learning, then, as long as I feel confident that I have the ability to learn all, say something like, I don't yet have experience with that, but I'm willing to learn. For example, I once had a quiet that wanted to start a podcast, and I didn't know the first thing about editing audio or getting a podcast on iTunes. But interestingly enough, podcasting was on my list of skills I wanted to learn in spite of my lack of experience, podcasting, my other skills. Check the right boxes and he hired me anyway and then paid for me to learn podcasting. This worked out great for both of us because I was able to help him launch a successful podcast, and I developed a new skill and was able to offer podcast production work to other clients . Finally, go with your gut. While it's normal to have a little bit of nervousness when starting with a new quiet, if you have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach about working with them, it's best to walk away. Or, at the very least, start with a small project rather than agreeing to something big. The key thing is to refuse to allow fear, to dictate what you agree to and who you work with. Now, out of necessity, you do get stuck doing less and ideal work or work for a less an ideal client. Stay tuned because later on in this class, I'll share some tips for how to position yourself to let a client go 3. Contracts and Proposals: Now let's talk about contracts after the initial interview process, assuming that both you and the potential client agreed to move forward, it's time to create a contract. By the way, before I get into the nuts and bolts of creating a contract, keep on your radar the idea that you can use some of the ideas in this video to create a proposal. Proposals are similar to contracts in that they lay out the basics of the work you'll dio along with your terms but may not yet be set in stone after having your initial conversation with a potential client unless you already came to a solid agreement offered to create a proposal. Proposals can be a good negotiating tool and are a great way to make sure you're both on the same page before sending a contract. Since proposals aren't legal documents, people may feel less threatened or adversarial when looking over a proposal. Once they received the proposal, you can discuss and agree upon any changes before creating the actual contract. The good news is, if you've created a proposal, you've already done the hard work of laying out what needs to go into the contract with that out of the way, let's get into some of the things you want to include in your contract number one. What you'll dio. So the first thing that goes into a proposal or contract are the specifics of what you'll dio be detailed here and include a list of project tasks that you'll complete. The detailed list helps keep clients from asking for a bunch of other things. For example, as a writer, instead of saying something like Write a weekly blonde post, I would say right, a weekly blonde post of 500 to 750 words. This is important because a block post of that length requires minimal research and takes far less time than a well researched post of 2000 words. Arm or I could go into more detail, such as write a weekly blood post of 500 to 750 words. Additional services such as uploading and formatting. The Post adding metadata and sourcing images are beyond the scope of this agreement. If at some point the client decides they want more work done, such as the uploading and formatting, you may need to rewrite the contract to reflect the additional work and compensation. You don't have to be quite a specific if you're working on a retainer basis, since you will likely be on call or expected to put in a certain number of hours for a set amount of pay. But you may still want to be specific when it comes to the types of work you're willing to dio and as we'll get into in the next points when you'll do it and how much you'll be paid Number two. When you'll do the work. So next you're gonna include when you'll do your work. This is where you'll get into deadlines and the hours you're available. Now. The important thing to include here is that deadlines apply to both parties. You need to have deadlines so that your client can be confident that work will be done by a specific time. But the client must also have deadlines so that you have a reasonable amount of time to get your part done. For example, in order for you to deliver a particular product or service by a set time, the client must provide you whatever it is you need by a set time now Let me tell you about a huge mistake that I made. I once created regular content for a very high demand. Quiet The block post and other related content was supposed to go live by 7 a.m. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning. The problem was that there was an entire team working on the content, and my part was the last part of the workflow. My part took between four and eight hours to complete, and I often didn't get what I need it until late the night before it was Dio. As a result, I ended up working all night to get my part done in order to meet the 7 a.m. deadline while I complained about this and push to get things in a more timely manner. And while they would do better for a short period of time, they consistently slip back into old patterns. The problem is that I didn't include deadlines for them in the contract. So while I was obligated to get work done on time, they were not. I handled this better with my blogging your voice service without going into too much detail. The way this works is that I conducted a recorded phone interview with the client to get the information on a month's worth of blogged post. I had the recordings transcribed and from there wrote the blood post. Now, especially since I had to rely on someone else doing the transcription and didn't want to pay a rush fee. I stated that I would complete the first post within a week after the interview. So if the client pushed back the interview, that automatically pushed back my deadline, which kept me from having to get it done too quickly. In this part of the contract, you can also include your office hours now. As a freelancer, you may work all kinds of crazy hours, but that doesn't mean you need to be available all hours of the day and night 365 days per year. Setting your office hours helps manage expectations. For example, let's say that your client is in the Eastern time zone and you're in the Pacific Time zone hand. You state that you begin work at 8 a.m. Pacific time, they'll know not to expect to hear from you until 11 a.m. Eastern time at the earliest setting office hours will hopefully prevent someone calling you at what is 8 a.m. their time, but 5 a.m. Your time. If you include your hours in your contract and the client gets upset because you don't answer the phone or respond to an email late at night around the weekend, you can remind them of your office hours as stated in the contract number. Three. How you'll do the Word. How You'll Do the work includes everything from our where you'll source images. How many revisions you'll make, what types of files you'll provide the level of research you'll do, the tools you'll use, the subcontracting arrangements and so on. If you explain how you'll do something, it may help them to understand the amount of work and time that it'll take, since it will help them to see how much you have to put into the project. Also, if you lay out things such as subcontracting and they try to push you to get something done faster, you can remind them that specific tasks are being done by others. And the timeline those people have set number four cost Now. Pricing is beyond the scope of this class. So when it comes to cost, I'm going to provide just a few general principles. First, of course, is that you need to be specific when it comes to costs. You've already laid out what you will do, and in this section of the contract, you need to specify the cost. Here you can specify things such as late fees, the cost for additional revisions and so on. When negotiating cost, be sure to keep things in mind, such as the money you'll have to set aside for taxes and some margin for problems that come up and things taking longer than anticipated. Generally, it's best have a fee for the project or a daily, weekly or monthly rate instead of an hourly rate. This could be a challenge if you're doing more general works such as virtual assistant work , where you do whatever needs to be done. One general rule of thumb when figuring out what to charge is to expect things to take longer than anticipated. You can also include built in reviews. For instance, if you do ongoing work for a quiet, you may want to limit the term of the contract to six months or the most a year when the term of the contract expires, you can negotiate a raise, and I messed up in this area when I first did client work. Sometimes I found out that the work turned out to be more demanding than I anticipated, and I was locked in it too low of a price. In other cases, since there was no expiration date to the contract, I could technically work for the same price for years Now. Obviously, you can bring up a change in rates at any time. But having an end date to the contract provides a more natural opportunity to re negotiate compensation number five terms and conditions. Now I just want to briefly touch on terms and conditions before I go further. Let me say that I'm not an attorney, and this content wasn't reviewed by an attorney. So please do your own due diligence or hire an attorney to review your entire contract, including the terms and conditions. Having said that, here are some examples of what to include in your terms and conditions, ownership and attribution, who owns the end product and what type of attribution will there be? For instance, as a writer. I have sometimes written content that had my by line and other times I ghost wrote content that had someone else's name to protect yourself. You can include a blurb about how you own everything 100% until you've received the final payment. You can also cover how they can use the product. For example, I may say that they can post the content on their blawg, but that it can't be used in a book or other product without written permission and or additional compensation. Now let's talk about payment terms now. This has to do when things go beyond the basic cost covered earlier. For instance, you could include information on late fees or rush fees if the client didn't get thanks to on time or wanted things done faster than originally agreed to. Here's where you could include an hourly rate if they want you to go beyond what was agreed to earlier, such as extra revisions. You may also want to include information on what happens if the project is terminated prior to completion. How will that be handled? At the very least, you should include something about the deposit being nonrefundable. You can also include something like You have the right to list them as a client or to link to the final projects, such as a website you designed or blood post you wrote. You can also address questions such as who is responsible for other expenses, such as travel. If they require you to travel to attend meetings, be clear on who would cover those expenses. Another great thing to include is how long the terms of the contractor valid. What I'm referring to here is the amount of time they have to sign the contract in orderto lock. In the terms, this helps protect you from a client that drags their feet and doesn't sign it or get back to in a timely manner. If the potential client takes a long time to get back to you, it's possible you took on other work. Or if a lot of time has passed, perhaps you've raised your rates, or if they don't get back to in a timely manner, that will impact the timeline that you proposed. You want the right to adapt the due dates, change rates and so on after specific date has passed, so be sure to include an expiration date for the agreement. As part of the terms now, naturally, you'll include a place for both parties to date and sign the document. 4. Get Paid on Time: if you're a freelancer or work in some type of creative, client based industry, you've probably said, or at least heard the words. I've done the work but haven't been paid. I, in fact, heard those words from a fellow writer recently and wanted to pass on to you some of what I shared with her, which will also help you to avoid the problem of nonpaying clients. First, it's important to explain payment terms in advance. Doing so is essential to make sure that you are on the same page as your client. While this doesn't guarantee payment, it increases the odds that there will be no misunderstandings about the expectations. Next, start with smaller projects. This isn't always possible, but if you have the opportunity to do so, it's a lower risk way to figure out whether or not someone will be quick or slow to pay. This is also a good way to test the waters to see if you enjoy working with the person before committing to a larger project or a longer term working relationship. Next, receive payment up front now. This isn't always possible, and some work lends itself better than others to payment in advance. For instance, I've had some clients on retainer and was expected to do certain things every month or work a certain number of hours every month for a set amount of pay. When I was doing this type of work, the clients paid me the end of the month for the work I would be doing the coming month. So I was paid before I did the actual work for one off projects that I've done. I've required clients to pay 50% before I even start the work with the balance due upon the completion of the project. I, of course, let them know the terms ahead of time and included them in the contract. In addition to that, I mentioned it in an upbeat manner once I get all I needed from them. So for example, let's say I agreed to edit a book and ask for various files from the client. Once I received them, I'd say something like Great. I now have everything I need from you and will start on this as soon as I receive the deposit. That little reminder was away toe. Let them know without nagging that I wasn't going to start working on their book until they paid the deposit. While it's better to be paid 100% up front, you have to put yourself in your client's shoes and remember that they are also taking on some risk, particularly if you've never done work for them before. They don't know for certain that you'll do. The work is promised, so 50% upfront payment is a good compromise. Getting half the payment up front doesn't protect you completely, but if the client fails to pay the balance, at least you're not left empty handed. Next, Onley delivered the product after full payment has been received. If you need to do the work before being paid, withholding the final product until the payment has been received is one way to protect yourself. If you opt to go this route, you can notify the client that the project is complete and will be delivered once payment has been received. Now this isn't as good of a set up as being paid in advance because you technically run the risk of not receiving payment in spite of having done the work. But if the people want to receive the work then they will naturally pay you as an example. I just recently got communication from my accountant regarding tax prep. In the past, she sent out a bill after the tax, prep and filing was completed. In this communication, she stated that tax returns won't be filed until she receives payment. My guess is that she had enough people not pay her for her work. And so she changed her policy. Now, if people want their tax return filed on time, they'll pay in a timely manner. Next, it's helpful to set up automated payment reminders and late fees. Ah, lot of bookkeeping software has this built in future. I like the automated aspect because then, when the person gets the reminder or is eventually charged a late fee, it's nothing personal. In fact, I once had quiet who got upset when he got a late payment reminder, and I was able to let him know that it's an automated process. It's still unpleasant, but it helps if the client can see that I didn't just angrily send out a late payment reminder. The fact of the matter is there. Lack of payment is what triggered the notice. So it's nothing personal on my end. If you're going to charge late fees, be sure that those terms air clear right from the beginning. No one likes that kind of surprise. And if you haven't been charging late fees up to this point, you need to let your problem clients know that you've updated your policy and now charge late fees. Do this in a professional manner, and this is one time when you want communication to film or like a form letter rather than personal communication. Finally, while automated payment reminders and late fees air helpful, there are times when it pays to be flexible. For example, I once had a client who sometimes struggle to pay me on time, and this wasn't an ongoing problem, but something that happened occasionally. The thing that made him different from others who sometimes paid me late was that he always communicated with me If I sent him an invoice and he was going to struggle to pay me on time, he immediately reached out and explained his situation to me. For instance, once he had just paid a big tax bill and was low on cash. Another time, he had just moved and had a lot of expenses related to the move. In addition to reaching out to me immediately in explaining the situation to me, he also told me when he would pay and without fail he did so. On top of that, he was also a delight to work with in general, so occasional late payments didn't bother me. So the point is here is that you can adapt things based on clients. It's good to have your general rule is your general practices. But there will be times when you want to be more flexible with someone, especially if they're a good client overall. 5. Train Your Clients: If you have clients that drive you nuts, it's possible that it's your fault more than theirs. Let me explain. While it's true that there are some nightmare clients out there, many of the client problems that you have could be a direct result of the foundation that you've laid with the client and the patterns that you've established. For example, if you typically respond to an email from a client within five minutes, regardless of the time of day or day of the week, that becomes the expectation. And because of that, if for some reason two hours goes by and you haven't responded to an email, the client may become frustrated. It isn't that the client is necessarily an unreasonable person. It's more matter that you've trained them to expect an immediate response. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for how to train your clients to work with you. First, start off by describing your dream business, for example, you may want to work normal office hours with weekends off, or perhaps you're a night owl and you don't want to start work until noon each day. Or you may want to work on Lee when your Children are in school. Perhaps you like working crazy hours for a couple of months and then working very little, if at all, for a month. You therefore enjoy working with clients that expect a lot during a product launch or during the holiday season. But you work at a much slower pace other times now. Well, I won't say that you can always get everything you want, and you may at times have to do things that you don't like. It's important to start off by determining what you really want in your business, because if you don't know what you really want than it's guaranteed that your clients won't have a clue next, decide what you're willing to compromise on. Let's face it, you may want to work only two hours per day and yet have a goal of making six figures. Well, that could happen. It's also very possible that you'll need to work more than two hours per day to reach your financial objectives. Or you may not like to travel but can handle doing it a couple of times a year if need it at the same time that you're determining where you're willing to compromise. You should also decide which things are not negotiable. For example, perhaps you're willing to travel but unwilling to do so if it conflicts with a special time for one of your family members, such as your Childs birthday. Whatever those things are, it's really important to communicate with your client about those preferences. And in fact, a big mistake that many freelancers make is that they never let their clients know the things that are important to them or if something bothers them. We've kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, this whole concept of figuring out what's important to you and communicating those things in the interview process. But sometimes you don't figure that kind of thing out until you get a little bit further into the relationship or you just gain more experience. Sometimes you find out something bothers you the first time it happens, so the point is that it's important to communicate those things as they come up. So, for example, let's say that you hate to talk on the phone and have a client who calls you regularly. When they call, you answer the phone, but you see the entire time, and yet you've never told them how you like to be communicated with. Can you see how this is a problem? If you've never let them know how you feel about it, it's really not their fault that they're doing something that frustrates you. The best time to do this is when you're establishing a working relationship before you sign on the dotted line, as mentioned before we talked about contracts and I've seen contracts where communication guidelines include the preferred communication method limits to the number of phone calls and so on. Now you may not want to be as formal as to put it in writing, but it is important to express those preferences and boundaries one way or another as early in the relationship as possible. Assuming that you've communicated about your preferences and requirements and that the client has agreed to them, you'll need to be sure to enforce them when needed. For example, you may need to remind a client that an agreement is in place, that you won't travel when it's a special occasion for one of your family members. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you need to know when to be flexible. For instance, perhaps a true emergency arises, and the only right thing to do is to work on a weekend, even though you normally don't work weekends. The bottom line in all of this is that if you're being taken advantage of or in some other way, unhappy with your quiet relationships, it's very possible that you've trained your clients to work with you a certain way, and it's up to you to retrain them. 6. Going the Extra Mile: While it's good to enforce boundaries, one way to stand out among the competition is to go the extra mile for clients. And most quiet, appreciate the extra effort that you put into projects and the times when you're willing to go beyond the call of duty. Most will also reward you for your efforts and not abuse your willingness to work hard. There are, however, some clients who won't appreciate your efforts or who demand more than is reasonable. So the tips that I get into in this video will help you know how to balance going the extra mile without being abused. First differentiate between normal duties and favors. One of my clients Podcast was picked up by CBS, and in this transition he asked me to compile data on all of the previous 50 plus episodes , and this class was a huge one, and he offered to pay me for doing it. I declined the extra payment, and it's did did. It just is a favor. Several months earlier, he asked me to start adding show notes to each episode on YouTube and switching the YouTube video from unlisted alive. After the block post went live each week now this was a relatively small additional task that I did each week. He offered to pay me extra for doing so, and I accepted his offer. He then increased my pay for each podcast episode I worked on. Well, as you can see from this example, in one case, I turned down the extra payment and just did the work as a favor, even though it was a big task. And in the other case, I accepted the additional payment, even though it was a small amount of extra work. Here's why in the first case this was a one time thing and not something I would have to do consistently. This client was easy to work with, and it seemed reasonable to do this one time task as a favor. In the second case, I'd have to do the extra work every week. And while the additional work was relatively small, it would feel big if I did it week after week without additional compensation. On top of this, there was another little extra thing that he previously added to my work load without additional compensation. I didn't want a nickel and dime him to death, so I didn't charge him for that slight increase in duties, but it would have been a bit much to have done both of the extra task without slightly increasing my rates. Also, if I agreed multiple times to do more work without additional compensation, that would have become the norm, and it would be harder to ask for more money later on. This kind of goes back to the concept of the importance of training your quiets and how these decisions that you make train them to expect certain things from you number to consider the overall working relationship. When it comes to determining when to say yes and when to say no to extra work, it helps to consider the big picture of the working relationship. For instance, with the relationship I just mentioned, you'll note that in both scenarios, that client offered to pay me more without me asking. He also had just given me a bonus when he got a sponsor for his podcast. On top of that, shortly after I started working for him, my brother was killed in a tragic accident and with needing to travel for the funeral on a 10 to family needs I couldn't work on his podcast that week. Not only was he understanding, he even paid me for the work that I didn't dio and even sent flowers for the funeral. What made this more amazing is that this literally happened the first week I was supposed to do his podcast production, so I didn't even have a good record of working for him. These gestures made it clear that he values the work I do and isn't trying to take advantage of me, so the least I could do was do some occasional extra work without additional compensation. Finally, consider your personal boundaries and you'll notice that this topic comes up again and again. And I've already mentioned determining which things matter the most to you and making those things clear to your clients. And the reason it keeps coming up is because it's really important. So the important thing is to figure out your non negotiables, such as being unwilling to work on Sunday or on a family member's birthday. Now, when thinking of non negotiables, it's important to be clear on your core values. For instance, being unwilling to work on Sunday could fit with a core value that's related to faith, and being unwilling to work on a Thursday could fit with a core value of family. Understand that those core values and your non negotiables help you know when to say no to going the extra mile for a client. So as you can see from this video, there's not a one size fits all blueprint for going the extra mile for clients without being abused. The two key things are to know your non negotiables and to consider the big picture relationship you have with each individual client. 7. Keep Short Accounts: another key toe. Healthy client relationships is to keep short accounts. What I mean by this is to deal with problems as they occur. Don't let things fester. Otherwise you could end up saying or doing something that you regret. Also, if you feel that something may be a bit off or they may be unhappy for some reason, then ask. This is uncomfortable but worthwhile. For instance, I once had a client that I had a good working relationship with. For the most part, things went smoothly, and it was a pleasure to work with him. But on occasion I sense that something was a bit off. So I reached out to him to see if all was, well, one of those times. There was a small issue that needed to be addressed and because I asked, we were able to clear it up. The other time, nothing was wrong. He was simply preoccupied with other things and because of that had been less communicative when I asked for a testimonial from this client. Among other things, he wrote, Rebecca is an amazing communicator, honest, professional and always a delight to talk to both in person and over email The bottom line is that communication matters in all relationships, both personal and professional. Speaking the truth in a kind way, and being willing to hear the truth from your clients is a key element of healthy client relationships. So don't let things fester or go on for a long period of time. If you're bothered by something, or if you sense that you're quiet, may be bothered by something. Even though it's uncomfortable to do so, be sure to ask. 8. Position Yourself to Fire Clients: One of the best ways to maintain healthy client relationships is to put himself to fire clients that are less than ideal. It's important not to hold on to clients out of desperation, because desperation leads to a willingness to accept abuse or to put up with working relationships that may not be abusive but are less than ideal. I found that there are two primary ways to position myself to fire clients. The first is to build up both business and personal emergency fund, and you can do this in baby steps. For instance, I recommend a minimum of $1000 in both a personal and business emergency fund. So a total of $2000 you can use your business emergency fund to pay for business related expenses such as Web hosting, your email list provider and so on. And, of course, you can use your personal emergency fund to cover personal expenses. Once you reach $1000 in each of those two emergency funds, keep adding to them. You could put a percentage such as 5% of all income into your emergency funds until they have enough in them to cover 3 to 6 months worth of both business and personal expenses. If you want to feel really empowered, keep adding to these accounts until you have enough to cover your expenses for a year. This is so empowering because if you're sticking with a toxic client, the root cause is likely. Fear. When you have money in the bank to cover your expenses, you no longer have to put up with abusive behavior from a client. Nor will you be stuck doing mind numbing work you dread. The second way to position yourself to fire clients is to have multiple clients or sources of income. I have to admit that in many ways it's easier to have one or two big clients rather than 1/2 a dozen or more smaller clients. However, the value of smaller clients is that if you lose one while you may have to tighten your belt a bit, you can likely still pay your bills. The great thing about the second approach is that if you combine it with the first approach of building an emergency fund, it helps you stretch your emergency fund as an example, let's say that you have five clients and each of your clients bring in around 20% of your income if you lose one of those clients. Even a one month emergency fund will last for approximately five months, since you only need to pull out enough to cover the income from that one. Quiet five months is more than enough time to find a replacement quiet, and thus you can make such a transition without a crazy amount of stress. I told you that I was going to give you two ways to position yourself to fire a client, but I want to add 1/3 as a bonus, and that is to develop a client waiting list. Now you may not have an actual waiting list, but if you have a good reputation, there are likely plenty of people out there who would love to hire you. They may be people that you've done work for in the past that you can contact to see if they need more work done. They may be friends or associates of your current or former clients, or they may be people who have reached out to you when you were too busy to take on more work. The key to this final tactic is to first of all, do good work and deliver it on time every time be visible in your industry and help others as you have the opportunity to do so. If you do quality work and invest in relationships, opportunities will be there when you need them. I'm gonna tell you a personal story of a time when these strategies worked for me. I once took on a high level client. My initial proposal to him was to work on a retainer of $4000 per month for part time content management work. I knew that this would be a high demand quiet and that it wouldn't be worth it toe work for less. His response was that he was willing to start me at $3000 per month and that after 90 days , if I did good work, he would increase my pay to the requested $4000 per month. I felt that this was a fair agreement because the lower pay would last a limited period of time and to make sure that we were on the same page, I asked him the specific things he'd look for to determine if I deserve the Rays. He told me that it was all about the numbers. My focus therefore needed to be on improving everything from website traffic to the average time spent on site to the average number of page views, and so on. By the end of the 90 days, I had, on average, quadrupled his previous numbers, for instance, among other things rather than the average slight visit lasting a minute after my work that went up to closer to five minutes. To be honest, even I was shocked by how well I did in such a short period of time. On top of that, he told me numerous times how much he loved my writing. But when it came time for my raise, he said he wasn't sure I deserved it. He admitted that the numbers were remarkable, but then said things like, I thought you would be more creative. So as you can imagine, this was quite a blow, and I was at a crossroads. On one hand, I stood to lose a $3000 per month he was paying me. On the other hand, I knew I had done my part, proven myself and deserved the $1000 per month raise. I also knew that he would not respect me if I was willing toe work for the lower amount. So after going back and forth with him on this, I quit. A week later, he rehired me and increase my pay to $4000 per month. I told you the story for a reason, and that is that because I had a good reputation, I knew that I could easily find other clients. And I also had other sources of income, such as book royalties, so all would not be lost in a financial sense if I let him go. In addition to that, I had some money and savings that would help bridge the gap until I replace the income. Finally, I knew that my work was good and I had the numbers to prove it, and because of that, I knew that I fully deserved the race and that it just wasn't right for me to work for a lower amount based on the agreement that we had. So because of all these things, I was in a position of power in the relationship, I didn't really expect him to rehire me a week after I quit, but I knew whatever happened, I would be okay. So if you're not in a position to fire clients now, work toward that. Gradually build up savings, take on another client or two. Build your skills and network so that rather than being desperate, your sought after with even one or two of these things in place, then you'll be in a position toe on Lee. Work with your dream clients. 9. 5 Reasons to Let a Client Go: Now that you understand what you need to do to position yourself to fire a client, its good to set some objective criteria for letting someone go. The first reason to let a client go is inconsistent communication. Now, depending on the type of work you do for a client, you may or may not need a lot of communication so quiet clients aren't always bad. For example, one of my clients hired me to write three blood post per week. The Post were all in my name and based on my expertise within a small set of guidelines, I could write pretty much whatever I wanted. I knew what I was supposed to dio, and I did it, so we really didn't have to communicate frequently. However, there are times when you really need a response, though you can respect that. Everyone's busy. A client who won't communicate when needed is one You should let go now. I'm not talking about an occasional missed email or failure to quickly respond to voicemail , because we're all probably guilty of that from time to time. Instead, I'm referring to those who routinely fell to respond to important communication. The client who fell to communicate as needed, can waste a lot of your time and cause unnecessary stress and isn't worth keeping. It's also worth firing clients that live and a persistent panic mode. Now, everyone as emergencies or times when a rush job is needed. However, regular panic sessions are uncalled for. This is particularly true since living and crisis mode is often a result of the quiets own procrastination. One reason that it's important to let a client go if he lives in a constant state of crisis is that he impacts the service you provide two other clients, not to mention causes you undue stress. For example, once I had a client who didn't do the necessary work to keep his business running smoothly every time you realized how bad things were, he hit the panic button. We then all had to spend the whole day fixing things. One day, in the midst of a panic, I forgot to show up on a webinar that another client was hosting. Thankfully, she was understanding because I had always been so reliable. But that experience was the last straw that let me know that it was time toe. Let this client go. I recall that this wasn't an easy decision as income from this client was more than half my total income. So, you know, going back to the last video, I talked about not having one quiet. That is too much of your income. But this was a mistake that I made early on in my business having first of all, a client that was difficult to work with and also one that made up a big part of my income . So the next issue is when a client lacks integrity. So we all have to determine our own threshold when it comes to integrity issues, and only you can determine where you draw the line. For instance, I once had a client who grossly exaggerated things. For example, he spent $85,000 on a premium domain name and in a YouTube video, said he spent $100,000 on it. There were other similar exaggerations, and while they bothered me, they weren't to the degree that I felt I should quit over them. On the other hand, these exaggerations piled on top of other issues added up to this being a less than ideal fit for me, so I did eventually move on. In another case, I had a client who refused to take care of his clients. He did website development and he charged a premium price. His work was indeed good. But if something on the website broke, he made promises to fix it and months later the problem still wouldn't be resolved. And these people were paying a monthly amount for website maintenance and since the websites were so complex and they were built like on a custom framework, they couldn't easily hire someone else to fix them. So they had to put up with their broken website. Now, to make matters even worse, this client gave customers my cell phone number. So I was stuck in the middle of the situation. The client would call. They tell me about the problem. I'd let this guy no and he wouldn't respond to my texture Emails about the problem. And he also wouldn't respond to developers on the team that sought his approval to fix things for the client. While this was an obvious lack of customer service, it was also an integrity issue because he seemed to have no intention of keeping his promises to clients in spite of the fact that he kept taking their money. So now let's get into some of the reasons it's important to distance yourself from clients that lack integrity. The first reason is that it's not good to be in the middle of something that is less than kosher. It's beside the point that you're not the one lying or whatever the situation is. It's still uncomfortable to know the truth and how it compares to what is being communicated to others your clients. Lack of integrity can also reflect poorly on you in a guilty by association kind of way. Secondly, it stands to reason that a client who lacks integrity with how he deals with his clients or customers will also lack integrity with how he handles things with you. If others can't trust your quiet, why should you assume that he or she will be honest and trustworthy with you? As uncomfortable as it is to let a client go, I know from experience that letting go of clients that lack integrity and pursuing clients that treat you and others with respect is worth the discomfort of firing the client that is less than ideal that was going to the next one. So, depending on various factors, you may want to let a client go when you, since their business is going down on one hand, there's something to be said about loyalty and sticking with a client and doing all you can to help salvage their business. On the other hand, if you depend on the income and the handwriting is on the wall regarding the future of the business, it may be time to move on. Sooner rather than later. It's important to pay attention to signs that indicate things are getting bad. For instance, I once worked on a retainer basis for a business focus Blawg. I was part of the initial site launch, so it was a baby and therefore unproven business. But the owner seemed to have his act together and paid me, and from what I could tell others on the team well and initially on time every single month , several months into this on occasion, his payment to me was late. I set up automated late payment reminders, which he typically responded to pretty fast, but then late payment became the norm. Every month my pay was late, and when he received the late payment reminders, he procrastinated. Tension grew on our relationship. I didn't like doing work and not knowing when I'd get paid. And he didn't like the payment reminders. He always made excuses for why the payment was late, never admitting that he was struggling financially. Finally, one day when I asked him about paying me, he told me that he had to have the brakes replaced on his car and that he couldn't afford to also pay me, but that he would when he got the money. So now, once he was finally honest with me, I felt more compassionate and gave him some grace. But I also knew that if things were that bad, I needed to plan my exit, and within a couple of months I resigned. This was a couple of years back, and when I recently checked, I saw that the website no longer exists, so it's definitely sad toe walk through hard times with clients. For some, it may be a temporary hiccup, and it's worth sticking with them. Others may be in such bad shape. It's extremely unlikely that they'll be able to pull out of it. How long you stay in a situation like that is a personal decision. But unless you have enough financial cushion that you can afford waking up one morning and no longer having the job, it's best to be proactive in planning your exit. The next reason you may want to let a client go is if they have unrealistic expectations. So I've had the privilege of working with top notch, very successful clients, and highly successful people tend to have high standards and high expectations. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because you learn a lot as a result of working for people who expect the best. But there are some who have not just high expectations. They have unrealistic expectations. If that's what you're experiencing, then it's probably time to let it client go rather than setting yourself up for failure. Earlier, I mentioned the client that required me to publish content by 7 a.m. Even if the rest of team got things to me so late that I had to work all night in order to publish the content on time. That was indeed and reasonable, But his unreasonable expectations didn't stop there. There were some occasions when the team didn't get me what I needed until after the content was supposed to go live. In those cases, I let him know I get it done as soon as I could, but since my part of the task generally took around six hours, it would take a while. He'd say he understood, but then within 1/2 hour, start texting me to see when I was going to get it done. To be honest with you, well, I never said it. I definitely thought, Well, it'll go a whole lot faster if you stop texting me. To make matters worse, one day, as I was rushed to get it done, I accidentally uploaded the wrong future image. The client texted me with a screen grab to point out my mistake. It was fine that he pointed out my mistake because it was absolutely my responsibility, and it was indeed something that I needed to fix. But when I apologized and told him I'd fix it right away, he responded with You need to get it right the first time. Now, never mind that I had gotten it right without fell more than 70 times before, and this was my first time to make that mistake. And it happened under stressful circumstances with trying to rush to get the content out due to not my procrastination, but they're procrastination. But the big thing is that that comment communicated to me that I could never make a mistake , which of course, is impossible. In another incident with the same client, he asked for a time estimate for a really big project. He was shocked by how many hours I stated it would take, even though, if anything, I low balled the figure. He sent me an irate Siris of text messages toe. Let me know how unhappy and angry he waas and a question my integrity incompetent now, as if all of this were not enough. The same quiet wanted me to transition from being a part time independent contractor that worked from home and lived in another state toe working for him full time in his office. A few states away to comply, my husband and I would have to sell our home and move across the country. To make matters worse, I had observed that there was a tremendous amount of turnover in the home office. While some people quit, I also knew that it didn't take much to get fired. And judging by my previous experience with him, I knew that I could move and then end up getting fired. A month later, all things considered, I let him know I was unwilling to move. He then became angry and even more demanding. Within a couple of months, I finally resigned. Now here's the moral of this story. When it comes to clients with unrealistic expectations, it generally gets worse over time rather than better. Now it's true that you can have a good heart to heart talk with a client and things may improve. And I did that with him on more than one occasion. And while things improved for a short period of time, there were deep seated issues that ultimately meant we would never have a healthy working relationship. So if you find yourself working with a client that has unrealistic expectations, I want to encourage you to do what you can to position yourself to fire the client and move on sooner rather than later. It's really the only way to hold on to both your sanity and your self respect 10. Don't Burn Bridges: I've ended relationships with clients well, and I have also ended relationships poorly. Here are some things I've learned through the process about how you can in relationships with clients without burning bridges. First, be sure to keep the lines of communication open. Transitions aren't always easy. In fact, sometimes there could be a certain level of tension in the relationship between you and a client when you decide to move on. The bad news is that when there are tensions, misunderstandings are often amplified. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to nip misunderstandings in the bud . For example, if your client seems to be frustrated with you instead of shutting down or becoming frustrated yourself, reach out to them to see if perhaps you've done something to bother them. And, if so, how you can fix it. These types of conversations aren't always easy, and there's no guarantee that it will go well. But it's important to do as much as possible on your side to make sure that you end things well. Number to finish task Now no one wants to clean up someone else's mess. So more than ever before, when you're about to move on from a client, take the time even extra time if needed to get work done. Obviously, you may not be able to finish every single project that you started, especially if the project is a long term one. But do your best to wrap things up. And if you can't finish a project, make sure that it's clear to everyone where you left off and what still needs to be done. Number three Document procedures regardless of whether you're part of a team or work on Lee directly with your client, if the task that you've been doing will need to be done by someone else than its a good idea to document all procedures, the procedure should be documented to such a degree that anyone else can pick them up and follow them. How you document them is really up to you and may depend on your skill set, and the resource is you have available. For instance, you may not know how to create screen cast videos or may not have the software available to do so, so instead you may right up step by step instructions complete with Screenshots. The main thing is to make them complete and easy to follow. Number four speak highly of everyone. Even if things have been tense, it's important to speak highly about your client and any other team members. Everyone has shortcomings, but griping about them and telling others about them sell themselves any problems and in fact, creates problems. Also, if you bad mouth clients or former clients, people may be hesitant to hire you. Since what you did to one quiet, you may very well do to them, so instead, focus on the positive things you can say both to and about. Your clients and teammates finally keep confidences. Now, depending on how closely you worked with your client, you may be privy to a lot of confidential information. Some of the information can range from things like financials, but it can also be more personal, such as personal family information, regardless of what it is. If you're quiet hasn't shared the information publicly, you shouldn't either. Ending quiet relationships is sometimes necessary, and if you follow the above advice, you'll be able to do it without regrets. 11. Recover from Toxic Clients: Now let's talk about how to recover from toxic clients. A nightmare client can not only cause a lot of stress, they can also negatively impact your family, your health and even your other clients. Because of that, it's really important not only to rid yourself of clients that drag you down. It's also important to do what's needed to recover well and to avoid making the same mistake again. So the first thing you want to do is exit well, and I already talked about that to some degree in the last video about not burning bridges , and I focused on leaving in such a way that primarily benefits the client. But exiting well is also for your own benefit. If you exit poorly, you'll have regrets and more stress, and it will ultimately impact your emotional and physical health. Because of that, regardless of how bad a situation is with a client, it's important to do everything that's in your power to end well now. Admittedly, this is tough, especially since your nightmare clients are likely pushing buttons and driving you to the edge in the middle of whatever frustration or anger or disappointment you may feel. Remember that even though you can apologize, you can never take back your words. It's also true that even if you've done a stellar job for someone, if you exit poorly, though, like we remember that far longer than the remember all the awesome things you did. And unfortunately, you'll also remember this. It's the type of thing that can weigh you down. So as difficult as it is, bear in mind that doing your best to exit well will aid in your recovery. The next thing I want to encourage you to do when ending a working relationship with the toxic client is to take the time to heal Now. Admittedly, this could be hard to do when you have to pay bills. But working for difficult people takes a toll and rushing headlong into other projects and work for other clients before you recover can have a negative impact on you and on your business in the long run, the good news is you don't have to have a lot of downtime before working to get more clients. Just be intentional about resting and recharging in whatever way works best for you. Whether that's taking a mini vacation, sleeping a little later than normal for a week or spending some time at the spa next, it's important to attend to your other clients that may have been neglected as a result of the demands that toxic client made on you. For instance, did your nightmare client keep you from getting some projects done for other clients? Did you perhaps respond quickly to phone calls and emails from the difficult client and then do a less than great job for others? If so, address the issue with your remaining clients and apologize if needed, and let them know that you've dealt with the problem and will now be more available and attentive. Just remember that other clients don't need to know all the ins and outs of the situation. The words you speak could come back to haunt you later. So instead of bad mouthing, the former client focused on your own shortcomings and how things will be different. Moving forward. Number four. Evaluate in orderto avoid making the same mistake again. So let's face it, there was a reason that you ended up in a bad situation, and I'm not saying that it's completely your fault that you ended up with the toxic quiet and for sure, sometimes they're unavoidable, but it could be at least partially your fault. For example, when I first left my day job, I took a client that in my gut I knew wasn't right for me. I had bills to pay, and I thought I couldn't afford to be overly picky, and he seemed nice enough. But in my heart of hearts, I knew it was a bad decision, and out of fear, I did it anyway. That situation taught me to pay attention to my gut. And when it's telling me to say no to listen, not listening to your gut before agreeing to work for someone is something I mentioned earlier. But I'm bringing it up again because it's such a common cause of ending up working for a toxic client. So as you do your self evaluation, you know, determined was that why did you know when it came right down to it that you shouldn't work for that person? And there's a lot of other things that I mentioned earlier, such as the importance of training your clients that also applies here. Did you perhaps set unrealistic expectations? Did you do things that created an unhealthy working relationship early on, and because of that, things went ugly. The point is to take a bit of time to reflect on the situation and pinpoint what went wrong so you can hopefully do things differently in future relationships. I personally like to spend time working through things in my journal. It's just a good, safe place to, you know, be really honest event and all that rather than doing it with other people. But whether it's just in your own mind during your journal, do take some time to reflect and list out some ways that you did things that contributed to the situation or things that you could avoid in the future. 12. Your Project: congratulations. You made it to the end of this class on how to build healthy, quiet relationships. Thank you so much for taking this class. If you found it helpful, I'd really appreciate it if you believe me of review, and it would also mean the world to me. If you follow me on skill share as your project for this class, you'll use the prompts that are in the project area to create a profile of your ideal client. And you also describe the types of work you most want to dio. You'll also list the types of clients or work you want to avoid. In addition to that, you'll create a personal plan to position yourself to fire clients that aren't a good fit. If you have any questions or feedback, be sure to drop me a note in the community area of this class until next time. I wish you the best and all of your business endeavors