Creative Freelance Troubleshooting with Bad Clients

As your freelance career grows, you’ll start getting challenging projects and clients. Stuff will happen. Problems are opportunities to show your chops and become indispensable. A single crisis, awesomely resolved, can win undying client love. In this article, we’ll help you prevent the avoidable and suggest game plans for the unavailable, the unforeseen, and some of the toughest freelancing problems.
 The power of putting it in writing
  • What you’ll learn is that you have much more leverage in troubleshooting if you have a contract, letter of agreement, or even a confirmation email with what was agreed upon regarding the project.
  • Put decisions, approvals, changes of direction, and other important benchmarks in writing as you proceed on a project and inform the client with an email. 
  • Keep notes on your conversations with clients. It will help you not only remember what was discussed, but also acts as a good way to clarify things with clients.

3: Triple-A Troubleshooting

  1. Acknowledge it.
  2. Analyse it.
  3. Act on it.
Acknowledge it:

Stare down the problem, in all it’s ugly. Tips to keep from blinking:

  • Remember! Acknowledging something isn’t the same as admitting → If your client has a problem, so do you!! But remember that It doesn’t mean they’re right about everything.
  • You should always trust your gut → You’re the expert in the project, so if you sense a problem, check it out and learn more about it. Better yet, tell your client: “This happened. I took care of it.” Then have a drink (several???).
  • Sometimes, of course, the problem is the client (which is difficult)→ this is where your network can save you → if at all possible contact freelancers who worked for the client before accepting the job. Getting the right client info can help you negotiate a tighter contract or avoid a nightmare client altogether.
Analyse it:

Never let the client beat you to the problem. Get to the problem first with your own mapped out solutions, which you’ll probably like better than theirs (as you are the pro here).

  • Determine what’s at stake → Is it a missed interim deadline or the final one? Is the photoshoot delayed a week or a month? The stakes determine what you do, how fast, and what it’ll cost. You may have to negotiate additional payment, an extension.
  • Brainstorm ways to prevent or minimise negative outcomes.
  • Toss what hasn’t worked → Research shows we tend to persist with decisions or plans that aren’t working – especially when we’re responsible for them.
  • Have good reasons → Have a “why” for every recommendation. Tell your client you want to address the problem but can’t make unrealistic promises.
Act on it:
  • Responding to the client’s problem is very important → it shows you care about what the client needs – and the clients notice. Even if you can’t solve the problem → your level of responsiveness counts.
  • When trouble strikes, responding with prompt and clear communication is critical.
    • 1 – Stay close. The more upset or ornery your client, the closer you should stay.
    • 2 – Pre-communicate. This helps prepare everyone for an important conversation.
    • 3 – If they need to vent, let them. Emotions trump logic.
    • 4 – Hand them solutions, not problems.
    • 5 – Don’t take the blame for what isn’t your fault, but take responsibility when it is.
    • 6 – Communicate the triple A way.

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