Client management

How to find and fire clients

Mimi Thurgood
Mimi Thurgood
Sep 1, 2022
How to find and fire clients



Word of mouth

This one’s obvious, but it’s exceptionally useful. Mention to friends and colleagues that you have space for new business and give them permission to share your contact details. People like to be helpful by making recommendations. So, your email or WhatsApp message to say you’re available for work will keep you top of mind and you’ll get more referrals.


Return the favour

When you hear of freelance gigs that you can’t take on, make sure to pass them along to your network. The more you do that, the more they’ll reciprocate.


Be easy to find

Make sure you’re up to date and relatively active on relevant platforms. That doesn’t mean you have to make a new TikTok video every week. Just make sure your LinkedIn, Behance, or whichever platform is applicable to your industry has your current contact details and some recent projects on it.

Then Google yourself and see what comes up. If your relevant info comes up easily, you’re golden. If not, consider getting a domain with your name in it, upload your portfolio and list of services and have it link out to your social media. The cost will probably be earned back with your very first client. 




Communicate clearly

Let the client know that you need to end your working relationship, as well as what your plan is for the rest of the work. If you can complete the project, and not take on anything new – that’s first prize. But if you need to leave the middle of a project, be clear about what work you will and won’t be able to complete.


Give plenty of notice

Nobody likes to feel let down, so make sure you give your client enough notice to find someone to replace you. Make sure your time frame for leaving is realistic, and that you communicate it clearly as soon as possible. Two weeks or a month is likely a good timeline, depending on the nature of the project and the scope of work.


Create handover documents

There are certain obvious pieces of documentation you’ll need to supply before you bow out. For example, if you’re in design, you’ll need to hand over open files, assuming that was the agreement. If you’re in copy, you’ll need to supply a complete copy deck of the project to date.


You can also go the extra mile to make things easier for the team you’re leaving behind. Create a short document with an overview of the project, what has been completed and what remains, as well as relevant links or additional documents. Leaving your team feeling organised and confident will remind them why they like working with you. You’ll get more referrals for future work, even if you don’t intend to work with that particular team again.


Refer another freelancer

If you know someone else who could take over from you, let your client know that. Be sure to check with them before handing their details over.


Don’t burn bridges

Usually, you can cite capacity as the reason to end a client relationship or another non-offensive reason like focusing your work in a certain sector or time zone.


But depending on the circumstances, you may want to give your client more feedback about why you’re leaving – like communication challenges or unreasonable deadlines. If you choose to go that route, tell the truth about why you want to end the relationship, but do it in a way that keeps their opinion of you high. Be clear but tactful.