Firing My First Client

Let me start by saying I know I’m not this billion-dollar company that can easily dismiss clients. I also know that I should be appreciative of every client I am blessed to work with, but Oh My Goodness… Sometimes, you just have to look out for yourself and your business. So here’s the scenario that pushed me to fire my first client and what I think comes out of firing a client.

Firing a Client - Time is important

So Here’s What Happened…

I’m not a huge marketing firm with a team of 50. I’m a one man operation that occasionally hires out. Even so, I was ready to start taking on more clients and grow my network. I began looking everywhere… Linkedin, Upwork, Indeed, Word of mouth, I even started looking through Craigslist!

I quickly had a couple of businesses reach out. Great Sign!

And then I received a request to work as a real estate copywriter. The first two businesses were going swimmingly so I thought, cool, I can take on another smaller project and still have time to grow.

The payout? $.03 a word. With a $20 training bonus.

The industry average is $.05 – $.10 but ok sure. I can negotiate down the road to increase.

So I excitedly accepted the offer.

And Then… the assignment came.

23 audio files that were anywhere from one minute to 15 minutes, a 30-minute tutorial video that didn’t really explain what the goal of the assignment was just how they keep track of their keywords, 5 articles to read through to match your layout to – the layout that didn’t match how the audio files were set up, and no real clear instructions on the topic. But, I dove in anyway.

It took me 2 hours to get through all of that information even though they said it will take me one, but ok I’ll let it slide. Maybe they just assumed I’m a quick reader.

And then 3.5 hours to write a 2500 word blog post. So the blog post came out .. or I am sorry would have come out to … $75. Which means that’s about $20 an hour for just writing the piece. Great! that’s not such a bad turn around once I have all the information laid out better. And For the record, it took me that long to write because I was trying to match the requested layout.

SEO – green, readability – green, and I’m pretty sure I met all the jumbled requirements they asked for. I’m already at 3.5 hours, so I turn it in.

The feedback I get is good! A manager reached out and said there were only a couple of things they wanted to tweak to match their formatting and he even talked about the payout.

But then, an hour and a half goes by and I get another email from the same manager saying that the owner took a look at what I presented (Even though that’s who I sent it to originally) and I did not write on the topic provided therefore they cannot pay me for my time. … WHAT?!?

I frantically look back at all the materials and emails and realized there are no clear instructions on what I’m supposed to be writing on.

The article I wrote is good so what does that mean? They tell me to rewrite it.

At this point I’m angry. That was 5.5 hours of my time! Everyone I vented to says to ditch them. If they’re hard to work with now they are going to be hard to work with forever. What do I do? I push through and try again.

The second article covers the same guidelines so I just worked from that. I tweaked and tweaked and realized it probably would have taken less time to just rewrite the whole thing, but nevertheless, I trudge on. I turn it in….

Still changes. At this point, I think that their requirements are just tedious. They want 3000 words essentially of original content even though they want you to write about a townhome that has a pool and shopping nearby…. there’s only so many ways you can say that!

And if you copy anything from their website they ask you to reword it… Ok, sure, I can work with that. I’ll try again.

Still missing a block of content as to why pools are great… ok fine I’lll add that too.

You’re still not ranking high enough for this keyword…… I was but then you asked me to remove the link and not to replace it with anything else….

And this is where I decided my time had more value. I was 10 hours into one blog post plus 2 hours of training. 12 hours of my life I will never get back because I was not given clear, organized, concise instructions.

I wrote the manager an email saying they needed someone with more time to analyze and work with them on their concepts, and that person is not me.

How I Feel

Now, I know this is partially my fault and I hope I never have to deal with firing a client again.

I should have MADE SURE I knew what the first blog post was, maybe should have taken a closer look at the requirements before I started, and honestly, I still feel a little guilty for not sucking it up and pushing through.

However, I think about the 12 hours I spent and I know I would have never been paid for all of my time. I know that in those 12 hours I skipped going out with my friends, sacrificed an evening with my boyfriend, and turned down another client. Those are things I won’t get back.

What I Learned about Firing a Client

I learned that communication is going to be the number one factor when working with clients. That’s kind of a DUH thing to say, but what I didn’t realize was just HOW important it is.

The ultimate effect that miscommunication can have hurts your business, your time, your personal life, and ultimately your income. Not to mention the other business wasted their time!

I hope that by improving my communication skills and improving my work funnel that in the future I won’t even have to think about firing a client.

Looking for Marketing Help?

Now please don’t take this blog post too seriously. I simply wrote it to help other struggling businesses who feel like they are stuck with their clients.

Your time is valuable. Your business’s time is valuable. And I hope to optimize your marketing processes so you don’t waste valuable time dealing with marketing nuances.

If you need some marketing help book a coffee talk!

Liked the post? Share your firing a client story in the comments.

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