How to break up with a client

Apr 5, 2018

Remember back in primary school when your first boyfriend/girlfriend got a little too handsy (or just turned out to be a total jerk)? And you got your very first chance to flex those “it’s not you, it’s me” diplomacy muscles?

Well, lady, it’s time to give those break up guns another workout … this time with that difficult client driving you nuts.

They’re dropping solid nope’s all over your creative concepts and screaming at you, a la Gordon Ramsay style, “There’s so much ginger in this it could be a Weasley!”

First of all, it’s gold. In both terms of the word. And secondly … why can’t they appreciate your creative genius?

There are always two options in life when you are faced with a difficult person, and those are …

1. Lie. Lie. Lie. Tell them you’re allergic to computers, or you’ve broken your mouse hand and aren’t doing design until it is completely healed which could five to ten years. You could also tell them a ‘white lie’ and say you are booked out for a few months. But … you grew out of fibbing around the same time you grew out of that old boyfriend. Besides, lies can totally backfire.

2. Tell the truth. Yep, tell them you’re not a good fit. There is honour in being honest.

But telling the truth is awkward and uncomfortable, right?
Well, yeah.

But it can also be liberating and allow you to break free from the clients that aren’t serving your creative abilities

To help you pull the trigger, I’ve created a copy-and-paste script you can use on your next difficult client.



Dear (first name),
After much consideration, I believe we should discontinue our work together.

This is not a decision I take lightly. Nor is it indicative of how I feel about you personally.

I simply believe that professionally and creatively we aren’t the best fit and it would serve both of us to move on.

What I’d like to suggest is that we (insert how you can plan to wrap-up your project/fulfil your obligations/offer a refund) so that we can (insert outcome).

I am also happy to recommend some of my designer peers who I think would be more suited to your project, let me know if you would like their details.

I will await your written confirmation.
 (Your name/signature)


IMPORTANT NOTE. In order for this email to do the trick, you MUST have a clause in your terms & conditions stating that you are able to terminate working with a client at anytime for any reason.

Phew. Client dumped. Stress levels relieved. All is good in the world.

…Until it happens again.
Cue the horror movie screams.

scared scream GIF-source

No, lady. There will be no ‘again’.

Here are two simple ways to make sure you’re not EVER put in the same position.

1. Charge more money. If you’re consistently dealing with crappy clients, it’s a sure-fire sign that you’re not charging enough. By charging more money you will work only with clients who value you and your services and it means you will work smarter and not harder by making the same (or more) amount of money but dealing with less clients. I have a pricing and packaging your offerings mini-ecourse here. 

2. Only work with your dream clients. Know who they are and why you love working with them. Then shout it from the rooftops. Add a list to your website like ‘I work with …’ and ‘We are not a good fit if …’ And don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ if your gut is telling you they’re going to be difficult. Your sanity is worth more than a quick buck. Download the free My Magical Dream Client workbook here.

Because lady, it’s NOT you … it’s them.

ps. Want more? Join me for a free masterclas….


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