How to fire a toxic client

We’ve all been there. It’s almost like a sad freelance rite of passage I wish we could eliminate: working with a toxic client. When I first debuted a podcast episode last summer about why freelancers couldn’t afford to keep toxic clients, it didn’t surprise me at all that it became one of my most-downloaded episodes.

Much like any other toxic relationship, this freelance client drains your energy, puts you on edge, and amps up your avoidance technique like nobody’s business. And since one of the best things about freelancing is that we decide who we work with, you’re in the driver’s seat to end the relationship.

Even when you know it’s extremely toxic, the idea of confronting an already difficult client means that most freelancers end up sticking around way too long. Here’s what to do when you recognize that it’s just not going to work and how to exit with as little drama as possible.

Recognize the Relationship for What It Is

If you’re dreading opening an email or getting on a call with a freelance client, something is up. If you have already made reasonable efforts to course-correct and the same problems keep popping up, now is the time to cut ties.


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