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As your freelancing business grows, the inevitable happens: you outgrow clients.
If you’ve been following along with our Savvy Freelancing challenges, you may be going through this right now. Our January 2010 challenge was to increase your rates, so if you’ve increased your fees significantly, you may have outgrown a few clients recently.
It’s scary. You’re losing people who’ve paid you good money in the past. They’re clients who know what you’re capable of. You no longer need to “sell” your services to them.
However, they can’t afford you anymore. So the time has come to let go.
It’s not an easy part of freelancing. But if you are to grow, it’s a necessary evil.
Here are some ways I’ve found that can help make it easier, both for you and your clients.
1. Remind yourself that you’re not being mean.
You’re not doing this because you’re a snob, or because you think highly of yourself. You’re a professional who continues to get better at what you do. You have more skills and experience than you did six months ago, which is why your services are more valuable to your clients now. You give them more value.
2. Give your clients time to adjust.
When you increase your fees, let your existing clients know, but give them an adjustment period, of say one to three months, when they can get your services at a discount.
3. Stay in touch.
Even when an existing client says they can no longer afford you at your new rates, keep them in your database. Let them know of special offers you have. When you’re having a slow period, offer them a new service at a discounted rate. Give copies of any freebies you’ve developed since you last worked together. You never know when your clients will catch up with you and be able to afford you again!
4. Ask for referrals.
Don’t be too embarrassed to ask clients to refer you to other possible clients. One good way to motivate them is by offering a referral commission in the form of a discount or free service.
5. Ask for a testimonial.
It may seem insensitive, but actually it’s a good time to ask for a testimonial after your client says that you’ve gotten out of their reach. At that point, the value you’ve given them so far is fresh in their minds and deep inside, they’re wishing they could afford you still.
Parting ways with clients you’ve outgrown doesn’t have to be painful. And it doesn’t have to mean goodbye forever.
How Do You Do It?
If you’ve experienced outgrowing clients in the past, how did you handle it? What results did you get?
photo credit: E|…|