How to Know When to Walk Away from a Client

As a writer, I’m pretty confident in my skills. I know I have the experience to deliver great results for my clients, and it feels good to do work I love. However, when it comes to client relationships, I have a tendency to abandon myself.

Last year one of my biggest clients started to change. New editors and owners came on board, and suddenly it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Some of my articles were approved no problem. And some had to be completely rewritten or were rejected entirely, and I could never predict what they were looking for. It got to the point where I was literally nauseous every time I checked my email, because I just knew there was going to be a stack of edits waiting for me.

Deep down I knew it was time to move on. The client had been great for so many years, and the income was steady, so I just kept plugging away. My soul was literally screaming at me to move on, but I was just too afraid.

And that’s when I got the email. After months of struggling to keep up with their new style, the editorial team decided to go in a different direction and let me go. I remember just staring at that email in disbelief. Even though I had dreaded the work, it still made up about two-thirds of my income, so this felt devastating.

Fortunately, it also felt strangely freeing. After I had a few days to process and switch gears, I decided I was never going to allow myself to go back to this place. I was done with doubting myself, feeling physically ill over an article and living in constant fear of a job being taken away.

It’s been six months since I got that email, and A LOT has changed! I joined a high-level mastermind that has totally rocked my world and opened up new opportunities. I’m back to a full load of clients, and I look forward to working with each of them. I’ve aligned myself with brands and websites I love, so the writing just comes naturally. I also turn down work without the scared voice in my head wondering if I made the right decision.

And that is what I want for you! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this for a decade or are just starting out. You are an asset to any client, and as soon as you own that, the right ones will find you. If you ever find yourself wondering if you should take a particular job or walk away from a steady one, here are some tips to consider.


Set Some Policies

Even if you are a team of one, set some strict policies for client relationships now. This will help you make decisions from a place of empowerment, rather than fear. For example, I used to stress out when a potential client asked me to do a sample for them for free before getting the job. I’ll admit that I used to do it, and I always felt a little taken advantage of, but I was also too afraid of letting an opportunity slip through my fingers.

Now I only provide paid writing samples. When a client sends me a test assignment, without hesitation I send them my rates for the article. If they balk at that, I know that they don’t respect my time now, and they’re not going to when I get the job either.

Give yourself some concrete policies and stick to them.


Do a Gut Check

When it was time for me to move on from my client, deep down I just knew. I was stressed all the time and even regretting my decision to become a writer at all. That should have been a red flag, but fear was running the show.

If your intuition is telling you it’s time to walk away, don’t let that fear voice take over. Our inner knowing is always guiding us, but we have to get quiet to listen. That means taking a step back and not just working over the fear.


Bet on YOself

Finally, once you listen to your inner knowing and realize it’s time to step away, DO IT. We live in an abundant universe with more than enough money and opportunities to go around. Had I not been let go by my client, I wouldn’t be writing for some dream magazines today.

Walk away and TRUST that God is guiding you to something better. We all started freelancing to feel more FREE, so if a client is sucking the life out of you, something has gone wrong.

Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t analyze it to death. Just walk away and open yourself up to the next chapter. I wish I had sooner!


Carrie Madormo