How to Develop Your Freelancing Brand

Brand development is one of the key goals for businesses everywhere. By developing a brand, businesses are able to carve out a customer base and ensure that they keep coming back.

Like many other parallels between working as a freelancer and owning a business, brand development is also an important consideration for freelancers as well. In the same way that developing a brand is beneficial to businesses selling a product, freelancers can use brand development to attract new clients, retain current clients, and even increase the rates that they are able to demand.

If you’re unsure how to go about developing a beneficial brand for your freelancing career, follow the tips in this guide to get started.


In freelancing, it’s often better to do one thing really well than to be decently good at a variety of things. If you can set yourself apart as an expert in a specific niche, finding clients in that niche who are willing to pay you top-dollar rates will become much easier.

For example, a freelance copywriter may establish themselves as an expert at writing product descriptions, or a freelancer photographer may specialize in shooting weddings. While both would still be able to pick up work outside these niches, developing a brand focused around these niches will set them apart from the competition and enable them to command higher rates when they are working within the niche that they specialize in.

Best of all, the niche you choose is entirely up to you. While the more in-demand a niche is the better, you may be surprised by the abundance of work available in a wide range of highly specific fields and niches.

Your Communication is a Part of Your Brand

Freelancers have a few less opportunities to establish their brand than a company selling a product. With this being the case, it’s important to take advantage of every brand-development opportunity that you have available.

One such opportunity is your communication with your clients. How do you want to come across to them? Themes such as professionalism, helpfulness, and astuteness are all themes that you may wish to incorporate into your communication. In addition to these, you may wish to establish other, more unique themes depending on what you want to be known for such as a slightly personal level of friendliness or even quirkiness and humor. In the end, the brand you establish through your communication is entirely up to you.

In addition to incorporating themes into your communication, you may also wish to adopt certain standards such as how you deliver files, your email signature, and more. These standards provide clients with a sense of familiarity when they work with you and may help persuade them to keep coming back to you for more work.

Create an Online Presence

For freelancers who are working primarily online, your web presence is by far the bulk of your brand. This web presence can include your profiles on sites that you are working off of, social media pages, and even your own website.

In all aspects of your online presence, it’s important to consider the brand that you are trying to develop. When creating profiles for yourself, be sure to be thorough and professional, drawing emphasis to your particular skills and specialties. When creating your own website, you’ll have even more control over the design and the content. Think carefully about the ideas you want to convey about yourself to potential clients and try to incorporate those ideas into your website design.

Lastly, you may wish to make use of social media in order to better connect with your clients and establish your brand. However you go about building an managing your online presence, keep in mind that it is the most effective tool you have available for establishing your freelancing brand. Take advantage of it as best you can.

Create a Logo

The first step of brand development for most every business is to develop a logo that captures the theme of their business and helps convey a message to potential clients and customers. As a freelancer, you too can make use of a great-looking logo to help make your web presence look more professional.

Whether it’s true or not, clients often associate logos with experience and professionalism. Take advantage of this association by having a logo designed for your freelancing business and displaying it across your online presence.

Having a great logo is especially important if you are working in any sort of design field. Before you can convince clients to let you design their projects, it certainly helps to display some great designs of your own.

Develop a Bio

When you go into business as a freelancer, you are selling yourself. Many clients will want to know a little bit more about who they are working with, and, therefore, it’s a good idea to put together a thorough bio.

While this bio should certainly focus on your work-related skills and accomplishments, don’t be afraid to include a little personal info as well. Where did you grow up? What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Giving clients a little glimpse at the person behind the work may help them trust you more and make them more likely to give you their business.

Make Use of Marketing Materials

Freelancing these days may be a largely online pursuit, but that doesn’t mean that more traditional, physical marketing materials such as flyers and business cards have gone the way of the dodo.

Quite the contrary, you can make use of these physical marketing materials to reach clients who may have never otherwise stumbled across your web presence. You never know who you are going to run into, and handing out business cards to people who are interested in your services may help you land a few new clients. Likewise, putting up flyers at events and other spaces can also help you attract new interest.

In the grand scheme of things, these kinds of marketing materials may be a relatively small part of building your brand. However, they are still worth having around in case the opportunity to put them to use comes up.

Create a Blog

No matter what services you are selling, creating a blog centered around those services is a great way to attract new visitors to your website, develop your brand, and showcase your skills.

Creating a blog allows you to further demonstrate the style and voice you want your freelancing brand to showcase. Better still, it can help show off what you are capable of. For example, if you are a freelance copywriter you can use your blog to showcase your powerful prose. If you’re a freelance graphic designer, use your blog to show off and talk about some of your designs, and if you are a photographer you can use a blog to tell the stories behind some of your photo-shoots.

People love stories, and providing them with stories centered around your brand is a great way to increase their trust in your services and pique their interest. As an added benefit, writing a blog is a great way to boost your SEO and drive more visitors to your website.

How to start preparing for your freelancing career as early as High School

Just a short time ago, telling someone that you plan to make freelancing your career would result in head shaking and mocking. People didn’t have the same grasp on the gig economy and what freelancing would become in today’s society. There are still those that are stuck in the past with an out-dated view of freelancers, but most are familiar with how up-and-coming the gig economy is becoming.

In fact, about 53 million Americans noted they were freelancers back in 2016 which was about 34 percent of the entire American workforce. That number is estimated to rise to about 43 percent by 2020. That’s almost half! So, you may be asking how do you prepare for a career as a freelancer? The good news is that no matter what stage of your life, there are things that you can do to jump-start your freelance career.

High School

It may seem too early to be thinking about becoming a freelancer, but high school can be the perfect time to start learning and implementing freelancing skills. If you babysit your neighbor’s children or do dog walking, you’re already a part of the gig economy. Not every high school is created the same when it comes to their offerings, but there are plenty of opportunities to hone your freelance skills.

High School Vocational Programs

Vocational courses are great for freelancers that want to work with their hands without being employed by someone. Get involved in the wood shop, automotive class, child care, landscape program or other offerings that will get you experience before you branch out into the world. Many young people are skipping being hired by a company and jumping into owning their own business during their high school education and beyond graduation.

Computer Courses

Many high schools are offering more varied computer courses with some even starting high school students on coding. Take advantage of classes that teach about software, coding, typing, and more. Knowing how to build a website using HTML and CSS can come in handy even if you’re not planning on being a web designer or developer. It can make it so that you can create your first website hawking your service to your local community without having to pay someone else to make it. Being willing to add to your arsenal of skills is in a freelancer’s best interest.

Business Courses

Check out if your school offers any business classes as being a freelancer means that you’ll not only need a marketable skill, but you’ll also have to be able to handle all of the of the office tasks that come along with being a freelancer. There are some schools that are going so far to have entrepreneurial classes where the students run a business for the school. Classes that are adjacent to business can also be helpful in getting you started on your freelance career. Things like public speaking, communication, accounting, and more can be beneficial.

High School and College Combined

For some high school students, they can get the best of both worlds. More high school programs are realizing that their brightest and focused students are better served by being able to take college courses at the same time they earn their high school diploma. Some of these programs even result in the graduate not only having a shiny new diploma but a certificate or associate degree from the college they attended.

What Comes Next?

After graduation, it’s either time for the real world or to enter college. Your choice is really going to depend upon what your goals are in being a freelancer. Some may need a four-year degree to help them get their freelance career jumpstarted while others may be good with their diploma or community college certificate program. Not all freelance opportunities require you to have a degree.

Always do your research on what other freelancers have under their belt when it comes to experience and what clients are looking for in their freelancers. There is a big debate going on in the country when it comes to higher education with things like debt, and it’s important to try to make the right decision for your future based on the research that you do now.


College is an excellent time to consider your future as a freelancer. Actually, plenty of freelance enterprises were started in college dorm rooms to help pay tuition. If you tutor other students, write articles for websites, design websites for your friends, work as a housesitter, or other gig jobs, you’re already a freelancer. That being said, there’s plenty that can be accomplished to help you advance your potential freelancer career while earning a college degree.

Picking Your Degree Program

You’ll be hard pressed to find a Bachelor of Science in Freelance. That doesn’t mean that there are degree programs out there that are highly suitable for people that want a future in freelancing. Journalism, business, technology, and similar certificate and degree programs are excellent choices for those that are planning on a future in freelancing. It’s important to find a degree program that supports the type of work that you’ll be doing.

Taking Advantage of Electives

You probably selected your elective based on what you want to do after you graduate. For instance, those that want a career in writing will probably select a degree program in journalism, English, or creative writing. The courses that you take that are mandated by your degree program will help to prepare you for your career in freelancing.

However, one of the pieces of advice that just about any experienced freelancer will give to someone just getting started is that you have to remember that you wear all the hats in a successful freelance business. There is no separation of tasks, especially at the beginning of your career when you can’t afford to pay for a service to handle tasks.

Think of it this way. When you work for a company as a writer, you just get to write. There are a few other tasks you may have to do in conjunction with your writing, but you do not have to run the entire company. The sales department brings in new clients to keep you busy writing. There’s a department to handle the human resource tasks like payroll and insurance. The accounting department is there to invoice clients to make them pay for the work you provide, pay the bills, balance the books, and prepare tax forms. Don’t forget the IT department that keeps your computer equipment working smoothly or tech staff that gets the website up and running to bring in clients. As a freelancer, you are the company. That means all of those tasks are your tasks.

That’s where electives can come into play. Being able to take electives that support you in learning other tasks can go a long way towards helping you to be able to do these things for yourself in-house. That basic accounting class or web design class may not fit in completely with your courses in writing, but they will come in handy at a later date.

Networking and Communication Skills

The adage of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know can often come into play greatly as a freelancer. Of course, it’s important that you understand the core of your freelance niche as poor quality work will cause you to shutter your freelance business just as quickly as not having enough clients, but knowing the right people can help your career greatly.

As mentioned in a previous section, there is no sales department that will bring in new clients to your freelance business. That’s completely up to you. One area where college can be so beneficial for you is in expanding your social circle and getting practice in speaking with others. Networking and communication are the skills that will help you in building your business. You can take courses on these topics and look for networking opportunities, such as student mixers.

Some people skip these events. To them, these types of activities may not seem like actual networking events as other students are probably not going to become your clients that day, but these events can still serve a purpose. Your fellow students are going to graduate eventually and may already be working while going to school. There’s a chance you may make a connection with someone now that helps your freelancing efforts. However, even more likely is that student mixers and other networking events at school are helping you with your networking skills.

It can be hard to market yourself in a conversation and create these types of connections. It can be even harder when your business is on the line trying to get someone to sign on the dotted line. Practicing while you’re in school can help you in doing this for yourself. It can help you to make this a more natural step.

Outside School

Don’t think that it’s impossible to jump into the freelancing game later in life, but in fact, many are doing so to change their lives. Whether you’ve already been in the workforce for a while and love the benefits of being a freelancer or are in school, but don’t have as many options for classes that will help your goals, there are sources outside school that can be beneficial.

Online Courses

Not only has the internet created the perfect environment for freelancing opportunities, but it’s also created the perfect classroom for freelancers. There are so many schools online that can teach you the skills you need to be an effective freelance worker taking advantage of the gig economy. These online courses are available on one topic, or you can take a whole course that leads to a certificate.

You can take advantage of free courses offered through actual colleges and universities and other sources. There are paid courses available, as well. You can find people that teach just about every niche of freelancing. They share their knowledge and experience in exchange for a course fee or membership. Not all of these opportunities are created equal, so it’s important to do some research before spending any money. Look for reviews and information outside of what they’re giving you on their website or in their marketing emails. This effort can help you to find courses that offer value versus those that just rehash information you could’ve found for free online.

Freelancer Gatherings

It can often feel like there’s a great amount of competition among freelancers. That can make it seem as though there isn’t a community feel to freelancing and that you’re going at it alone. That’s not the case. There are plenty of opportunities for freelancers to connect with others. One of the best places you can connect with other freelancers is the Freelance Union. It’s free to join and offers a chance to get to know others in the community. They share articles on being successful, help get you in touch with great deals from partners and keep you informed about your rights as a freelancer. Other places to look for connections with other freelancers is social media, such as Facebook. Not only is this a good place to connect, but to find potential gigs in the future.

Local Library

Your library is an excellent source that often gets overlooked. There are some great books being published on being a freelancer and taking advantage of the gig economy. Check out what your local library has to offer. Often, all you need to sign up for a library card is a driver’s license with your current address and maybe a utility bill. If you can’t find any books about freelancing or your niche at your branch, speak to a librarian. Most libraries have agreements with other libraries to share books. This opportunity can allow you to have access to a larger collection of books. They can show you how to set up a request for books located at other branches or locations.

Physical books aren’t the limit of what your library offers when it comes to books. Many libraries are now offering eBooks as part of their collection. This ebook option is an excellent one for busy people. You can have eBooks delivered right to your phone, computer, tablet, or Kindle. It helps to keep your place, and you can highlight passages. Plus, once your loan is up, the book is automatically returned. That means no overdue fees or having to make an extra trip to the library to return a physical book.

Don’t stop there. Your local library is more than just physical or eBooks you can check out. They offer so much more that can help to jump-start your career as a freelancer. Many libraries offer computer classes, speakers, networking events and more to their patrons. Some libraries have online resources, such as membership to paid courses offered for free. Pop into your local library and check out what they may have to offer. It may even just be a bulletin board that you can post your business’ information to get some new clients.

Community College

Community colleges and similar learning institutions can be another great place for someone that’s not in school to brush up on the skills they need to be a freelancer. If you have already gotten a degree in your niche, you may think that community college isn’t right for you, but that’s not necessarily true. For instance, taking an accounting class through the adult education program at your local community college can be a good option. It’s often very affordable and works well for people that are already busy working since they are intended for working adults. These types of courses can help you to round out the skills you need to run your own freelancing business. Check out their website to see what they have to offer or ask for their flyer or course catalog.

Jumping into the freelance environment isn’t easy, but there are some things that you can do to help yourself accelerate your learning curve. The thing about freelancing is that you’re always learning what it takes to be successful in a gig economy. No matter how long you’ve been freelancing there’s always something new on the horizon that can change your business for the better. Keep your mind open to these changes, especially when you’re starting out.

How to Succeed at Being a Freelancer

For many, making a successful career as a freelancer would be a dream come true. Freelancing offers a level of freedom that few careers offer and enables people to make a living using the talents they enjoy expressing the most.

However, finding success as a freelancer can also be difficult at times. If you are considering striking out on your own for a career in freelancing, follow this guide to give yourself the best shot at success.

Choose a Field That’s in Demand

Plenty of fields that are well-suited for a freelancing career are also in high demand, and which field you choose depends entirely on your own interests and skill-sets. Some fields that are popular choices for freelancers include graphic design, web development, copy-writing, marketing, and photography, though there are plenty of other more niche fields as well.

The important part is to choose a field that aligns with your skills and one for which there is significant demand. In the initial stages of freelancing, finding clients can be challenging no matter what field you are in. If you choose a low-demand field, though, it may prove almost impossible to keep the bills paid.

Treat Freelancing Like a Business

When you work as a freelancer, you are a business owner selling a service. The more your treat your freelancing career as a business that you own rather than a job you are employed at, the more likely you will be to succeed.

Aspects of treating freelancing like a business include keeping up with your expenses so that you can deduct them from your taxes, carefully maintaining the reputation of your services, and applying fundamentals of business in order to grow your freelancing career the same way any other service provider would grow their customer base.

Learn how to Market Yourself

No matter what field you are in, you’re going to have to develop some degree of marketing skills in order to succeed as a freelancer. Remember that competition is stiff, and finding new clients who are willing to hire you over the other options that are available will require you to effectively market yourself. In fact, you may find that you spend almost as much time marketing your services as you do actually performing them, especially in the beginning.

Learn how to write a great resume and proposal, build and manage a web presence for your services, and leverage any reviews, awards, or other accolades that you have available. If you can effectively market yourself to potential clients, you’ll have much more success finding a steady stream of work.

Look for Repeat Business

A client who is willing to give you repeat business is much more valuable than a one-off job. As discussed above, finding new clients can take a lot of marketing effort. If the payoff for a new client is one project, then that effort can be hard to justify unless the project is large or the effort required to secure it is minimal.

By finding clients who are willing to give you repeat business, though, you can gradually reduce the time you spend marketing yourself to new clients and instead spend your time working for a select few clients who consistently send you new work. In the long run, this is a much more cost and time effective strategy than continually searching for new clients and one-off projects.

Set Aside Money in Savings

If you’re used to a consistent paycheck that is the same each week, switching to freelancing can be a big adjustment. Some weeks, you may make five times what you normally do, and other weeks you may make next to nothing. Income from freelancing can sometimes be a roller coaster of highs and lows, especially if you haven’t yet secured a base of repeat clients.

It’s important, then, to prepare for the lows by setting aside money in savings. When you have a really good week, or month, or any other period of time, put your extra money in a savings account. When the roller coaster of freelancing income dips back down again, you may have to dip into it.

Start Low and Raise Your Rates Over Time

Chances are when you are first starting out, you are not going to be able to demand the same rates as someone who has been in the business for several years. This isn’t even necessarily a reflection of the skills you bring to the table, but more so a reflection of the experience you have to show when pitching to new clients.

When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, finding work – any work – is the name of the game. Even just a handful of reviews and experience to show can make all the difference. Without that experience, though, the main way you have to set yourself apart is the rates you charge.

By starting out with relatively low rates, you can more easily attract new clients in the beginning and use the experience and reviews those clients give you to start steadily pursuing higher paying jobs over time. Doing this may take some patience and resolve, but it’s the most effective way to steadily build a successful freelancing career.

Go Above and Beyond

Without a boss standing over your shoulder, it can become tempting to cut corners – and many freelancers do. However, one of the best ways to secure repeat clients and great reviews is to always go above and beyond.

Remember the old adage that the customer is always right, and go into every project determined to please them no matter what it takes. If a client proves to be more trouble than they are worth, you don’t have to take any future work from them. However, for the project(s) you’ve already agreed to complete, leaving them 100% satisfied should be your number one priority.

Maintain a Social Life

Freelancing can sometimes be a very solitary pursuit. While working from home may sound like a dream come true – and, in many ways, it is – you may also find that you miss the socialization that working at a traditional job provides.

It’s all too easy to become somewhat of a hermit when you take up freelancing as a full-time job. However, doing this may lead you to get burned out quickly. Instead, take advantage of the freedom that freelancing offers by going out from time to time, traveling, and maintaining an active social life that exists outside of your career. Remember that one of the biggest advantages of freelancing is that you get to decide when you take off and where you work from. Make the most of that freedom and don’t waste it by spending week after week locked away in your home.

Continually Hone Your Skills

No matter what field they are in, freelancers should continually look for ways to improve their services. Research your field, attend workshops, take the time analyze what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong, and overall continuously look for ways that you can hone your skills.

Remember that improved skills mean happier clients and better-paying jobs. If you can continuously hone your skills over time, your success as a freelancer will trend upward over time as well.

10 Tax Deductions Every Freelancer Should Know About

These are Ten Tax Deductions Every Freelancer Should Know About

From a tax perspective, working as a freelancer is akin to owning a business in which you are the only employee. On one hand, this can be a negative thing, as your income will likely be taxed more than if you were receiving the same amount as an employee for another company, and filing your taxes will likely be more complicated as well. However, it also comes with a big benefit – deductions.

Like any other business, freelancers are able to deduct expenses that are related to their business, and the more deductions that you can find to take, the more of your hard-earned money that you get to keep.

With that in mind, here are ten tax deductions that every freelancer should know about. While these may not apply to every situation, they are certainly common deductions for freelancers and are things you should be on the lookout for in order to save money when tax season rolls around.

Home Office

The majority of freelancers work out of their home, especially when they are first starting out. For individuals working out of their home, the IRS allows them to take a deduction known as the home office deduction, in which they can deduct a portion of their mortgage or rent.

To qualify for this deduction, you must have a space in your home that is solely dedicated to your work, and you can’t use it for any other purposes. Moving a desk into your bedroom won’t qualify you for the home office deduction, but having a room that is used solely as your office will.

If you do qualify for this deduction, you can take $5 per square foot of your home office or you can calculate your rent, utilities, and other expenditures and multiply them by the fraction of your home that your office takes up.


Working as a freelancer will require you to continuously market yourself to new clients, and sometimes this marketing will come with an expense. If you take out ads on social media or Google AdWords, print business cards, or engage in any other form of paid marketing, you can deduct these expenses from your income. Just make sure to keep good records of the marketing expenses that you have.

Training and Development

Successful freelancers are constantly honing their craft. Sometimes, you may even wish to pay for professional development by attending online classes, purchasing resources, and more.

Any expenses that you have in regards to training yourself or furthering your education in your field can be deducted from your income.

Unpaid Invoices

Having a client who refuses to pay an invoice is one of the banes of a freelancer’s career. While it thankfully doesn’t happen very often, it can be a real blow to your morale when it does.

The good news is that the IRS is willing to help take a little of the sting out of an unpaid invoice by allowing you to take the amount that was unpaid as a tax write-off for your business. To qualify for this deduction, you will want to make sure that you keep a detailed list of each unpaid invoice that includes the invoice number.

While it’s a good idea to set up a system that discourages unpaid invoices as much as possible (such as having a client put money in escrow or only doing large amounts of work upfront for clients that you already trust) it’s good to know that there is a way to get some form of compensation for invoices that are not paid.

Incorporation Costs

If you succeed as a freelancer, you may wish to incorporate your business into an S-Corp. Doing this allows you to take a portion of your income as dividends from the corporation and a portion of your income as a salary. On the portion of your income that you take as dividends, you will not be required to pay the 15.3% social security and Medicare tax. If you’re doing well, this structure can save you a lot of money.

However, the fees and costs associated with incorporating a business can be several hundred dollars or more. You will have to pay a fee to the state, and you will likely have to pay a CPA to help you through the process. All of these expenses, though, can be deducted.


After you’ve been working as a freelancer for a while, you may wish to create a website for your services. While the cost of creating a great-looking website has gone down in recent years, there are still a few expenses associated with owning your own website. These expenses include buying a domain name, paying a hosting fee, and potentially hiring a web developer to help you build the site. If you do decide to create your own website, keep track of these expenses as they are all deductible.

Mileage and Gas

Depending on what field of freelancing you are in, you may have to drive to meet clients, suppliers, or others. Of course, driving comes with expenses, both in the form of gasoline and wear and tear on your vehicle.

The IRS allows you to deduct these expenses either by taking a standard deduction based on how many miles you drive for business purposes or calculating the cost of maintaining your vehicle and the cost of gasoline that you buy for business related travel.


Mileage and gasoline are not the only expenses associated with travel. If you are traveling to a conference or other business event, you can also deduct your hotel accommodations and even a portion of your meals.

The IRS allows you to deduct the cost of your lodging and 50% of the cost of your meals. It’s important, though, not to try and deduct any expenses associated with site-seeing or entertainment while you are on a business trip. Doing this is one of the most surefire ways to trigger an audit, which is something everyone – especially freelancers – should avoid at all costs.


The vast majority of freelancing work is done from a computer. In order to do your job, therefore, you may be required to purchase certain software such as Microsoft Office, video editing software, web development software, and more. All of these expenses can be deducted from your income.

Contract Labor

Most of the time, working as a freelancer is a one-man or one-woman operation. Sometimes, though, you may need to contract out certain portions of a project to a third party. For example, if you are designing a website for a client and need help with a more complex software application, you may wish to hire a software developer to help you build it. While it would be good to factor in these kinds of expenses into your initial bid for the project, you can still deduct them from your income as well.

Hiring contract labor is quite a bit different from hiring an actual employee, and the process of paying them and deducting the expense is much simpler. Just keep a record of how much you paid them and what you paid them for and your accountant will be able to help you take the appropriate deduction for these expenses.

How to Deal with a Difficult Client as a Freelancer

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a freelancer is the fact that there isn’t any one person that you have to answer to. In a traditional job, if you have a difficult boss that is making your work-life stressful, you don’t have a lot of options short of finding a new job. With freelancing, though, you have the opportunity to work with numerous people, adding and removing clients as you please.

With that said, there will still be times when you get a client who makes life difficult. While you do have the ability to pick and choose the clients you work with, dealing with a difficult client is still a real hassle and is almost inevitable if you stay in the business long enough.

If you end up working with a client who has you pulling your hair out in frustration, follow these tips to make the most of a difficult situation.

Finish the Project You Agreed to do

When you come across a difficult client, chances are you won’t want to accept any repeat business from them. However, for the work you’ve already agreed to complete, try to meet their expectations to the best of your ability.

In freelancing, your reputation and reviews are worth their weight in gold. If you leave a client unsatisfied, no matter how difficult they are being, you run the risk of having them leave you a poor review that could end up haunting your freelancing career for a long time.

From a compensation standpoint, going above and beyond to please a difficult client may not be worth the pay you receive in return. However, it is certainly worth the effort to preserve your reputation. Once you finish the work you agreed to do, you can dust yourself off and never work with that client again. Until then, it’s best to push forward and try to please them.

Communication is Key

Most problems with a project arise from issues in communication. The trouble is that many clients are not entirely sure how to properly communicate their expectations. It’s understandable that they may not understand the nuances of the project as well as you do, or else they wouldn’t have to hire someone else to complete it. In many cases, though, this can lead to them knowing what they want but not knowing how to explain it to their freelancer.

It falls on you, then, to help them out by asking the right questions. If a client tells you that they are not happy with the work you have done, ask them for specifics about what they are looking for and what needs to be changed. Try to get as much information as you can before you take another stab at it. Often, a little bit of better communication is all that it takes to turn a difficult client into a satisfied one.

Don’t Get Defensive

If you’ve been working hard on a project and are proud of the work you turn in only to have a client tell you it isn’t good enough, it’s easy to take it personally. It’s important, though, to remain as impartial as possible and not get defensive in the face of criticism.

Arguing with a client is never going to produce good results. You are not going to change their mind, and you are almost guaranteeing that they leave you a negative review. Even if you end up unable to please the client and have to cut your losses, stay polite and professional at all times.

Acknowledge Without Agreeing

As stated above, disagreeing with a client or arguing with them is rarely the best path to resolution. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their critiques.

The best way to walk the fine line between arguing with a client and apologizing for things you don’t agree with is to acknowledge without agreeing. For example, if a client sends you a list of critiques, you could reply with something along the lines of, “Thank you for the feedback. I will get started on these changes right away.”

Notice how replying in this manner allows you to acknowledge and address a client’s critiques without admitting that you made any error and without trying to defend yourself. The client gets the satisfaction of knowing their critiques were heard without you having to apologize for your work.

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Many times, a client’s frustration may stem from a freelancer failing to deliver what they promised. While it may be tempting to over-promise in order to land a job, doing this may lead to conflict if you are unable to deliver.

Instead, it’s better to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room in your promises and then over-deliver, leaving a client pleasantly surprised by the outcome rather than disappointed. For example, instead of saying that you will complete a project in the next twelve hours, tell the client that you will have it to them within three days. Then, when you deliver the project in one day you are over-delivering on your promises rather than falling short of them.

So long as you don’t back yourself into a corner when it comes to what you promise a client, you leave them little to be frustrated with.

Look for Red Flags Before You Ever Agree to Complete a Project

Sometimes, the best way to deal with difficult clients is to avoid them entirely. While it can be difficult to know whether or not a client is going to be difficult before you work with them, there are red flags that you can look for.

Take a close look at the client’s project description and your initial communication with them. Are they complaining about freelancers they have worked with in the past? Do they come across as demanding or harsh? Do they do a poor job of describing the project or communicating their expectations? All of these things are red flags that suggest they might be a difficult person to work with. Unless you’re feeling brave, it may be best to avoid clients that demonstrate these red flags.

Dust Yourself off and Move on

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you won’t be able to please a client. It may be due to a conflict of personalities, an instance where a client has expectations that are beyond reason, or any number of other possible reasons.

In these cases, sometimes there is no other better option but to dust yourself off and move on. You may wish to offer the client a refund, or you may not. The client may choose to leave you a poor review, or they may not. No matter what happens, remember that your freelancing career is not going to be defined by a single client or project.

There are plenty of great clients out there for whom working with them is a real joy. When you happen across a client that is simply impossible to please, brush it off, accept whatever the outcome may be, and move on to clients that love your work and are happy to keep working with you time and time again.