Let’s take a reality check. Take a look at your current client portfolio.
I bet you $100 that twenty percent of your clients actually account for eighty percent of your revenue.
What’s more, twenty percent of your “other” clients are likely taking up eighty percent of your time. That ain’t an ideal scenario for any freelancer to have.
So what’s the solution?
You need to factor in the Pareto Rule. If you’ve not heard of it before it goes something like this:
20% of what you do brings you 80% of the results.
So you need to apply this to those clients that are bringing in the least amount of revenue and taking up the most amount of time, and you need to fire their asses.
Seriously you do.
Why you should fire your clients
Let me give you an example of a client I was coaching recently. She’s swamped with work, she’s also near broke.
Why? She’s taken on a number of new clients with “small” jobs that are paying very little. Eager to take on new business and not turn anyone down, she’s now at her wits end.
The problem is those “small” jobs have actually taken up a lot more of her time than she anticipated. She hasn’t charged accordingly, they’ve not paid her yet either, and it’s distracting her from hitting up her ideal clients.
My answer: Figure out who your ideal client is. Then only accept work from them. You want to hunt your ideal clients down, and politely turn away the rest.
I know this sounds a bit dramatic but it’s true. You need to stop sabotaging yourself and your freelance business with the wrong clients.
Look at these two very different scenarios:
You agree to work with just two clients, paying you a guaranteed monthly retainer of $2,000 per month each for a minimum three-month contract.
You now know your guaranteed monthly income for the next three months is $4k and, that you only have two clients to serve and two projects to work on.
- $4,000 for a set amount of hours or work.
- Peace of mind in dealing with just two high end clients
- Ease of set up of client in your system for project management and billing
Contrast that to…
You take on ten different clients, each with mini tasks, of $100-300 each. That’s a lot more work and effort to organize and deal with, for less money overall.
Don’t forget the proposals you have to write, numerous emails, admin set up and billing you need to factor in just to service these clients.
- $1,000-$3,000 total for that month for 20+ hours per week minimum.
- 10 clients to set up in your system, communicate with and keep track of
- Multiple projects to juggle and demands to meet each week
Are we clear on why there’s a need to fire those clients you currently work with who fall into the “pain in the ass category”?
Can you see why, before you take on any new work, no matter how much you “think you need the money” or the business, you will carefully consider their value to you?
How to fire those clients
I get it. One of the hardest things to do is to say no. Or putting it another way, to saying yes to the right opportunities, and no to the ones that will not serve you in the long run.
Here’s how I suggest you turn away those “bad apple” clients that will sour your working life.
- Be much clearer from the outset on your freelancing terms and conditions (on your website and in your meetings and initial contact)
- State your prices clearly and link this to the value you provide (aim high, so you have room to negotiate)
- Don’t back down if someone tries to bully you, asks you for a heavy discount or won’t pay you up front – that should be a warning sign
- If you really don’t want to work with the client and you can feel it’s not a right fit, state your f#ck off price. If they accept you can make up your mind.
If in doubt, come back to your checklist, and see if they tick any of the boxes. It will make it much easier to make snap decisions on working with them.
Other factors to consider a repeat work, extension of a contract and opportunity to be exposed to other top quality referrals.
You can factor this into your proposal and quote, especially the first time around, if you know there will be additional and future benefits.
Attracting Your Red Carpet Clients
Ultimately what we’re talking about here is attracting more of your ideal clients.
The number one reason I see people in this situation of taking on any and all work, is a lack of understanding of who they really want to work with.
When you set up your freelancing business I’m sure you envisioned working with people who respected your talents, paid you what you’re worth and were a complete dream to deal with.
I think that’s entirely possible, you just need to create a vision for your what this looks like and who this person is.
Coming back to the example above, I suggested my client create a checklist of what they wanted from an ideal client.
The Ideal Client Checklist
It went a little like this:
- Are excited to work with me and respect my opinion and suggestions on what needs to be done
- Give me a large amount of autonomy on the project so I feel a sense of ownership and can create my best work
- Don’t quibble on price and are happy to pay me what I’m worth, including additional amounts needed to complete the project
- Work with me in a collaborative manner and give me information and feedback when I need it, so I can deliver on time
- Are open to talk or meet with me at anytime in person, on Skype, via email etc to ensure I can do my best work for them
- Happily accept the tools and systems I use to work with them to ensure the project stays on track, including how I communicate with them and bill them,
- Send me quality referrals on a regular basis and are happy to work with me again and again
In return for this you obviously need to hold up your end of the bargain. I suggest you create your own checklist of how you’ll do this.
The Ideal Freelancer Checklist
Perhaps it looks like this:
- Create a clear project brief that the client signs off on before we begin work to make sure we’re all on the same page
- Communicate regularly with my client to ensure their expectations are kept in check, and actually exceeded
- Give my client realistic timeframes on the work I’m doing and when I need them to feedback to me by so that all goes smoothly
- Provide a weekly report that details what’s been achieved and what’s left to do so the client feels assured you have their best interests at heart
- Follow up once the contract is complete to make sure they’re truly happy – or better yet thrilled with the outcome
- Set a reminder in your calendar or via your CRM tool to say a friendly hello 2-4 weeks later to show you care
- Send them a personalized card one month later, thanking them for working with you and inviting them to contact you for future projects
Wrapping It All Up
I hope this has given you some food for thought on how you can actually save yourself time and make more money, by inducing the Pareto Rule.
It’s up to you to be selective on who you want to work with and what you’re happy to accept – in terms of contract scope, payment and deliverables.
If you’re finding this hard to swallow, it could be that you’re undervaluing yourself at a deeper level, and we need to delve into why that is.
Charging what you’re worth, working with your ideal clients and ultimately working on projects that light your fire, comes down to you and your mindset.
You attract into your life what you want out of it. If you adopt the abundance based mindset, you’ll soon find your client portfolio full of your ideal clients.
So tell me in the comments below, what action you’re going to take today to fire those clients who are holding you back, and roll out the red carpet for your new ideal clients.