Are Vampire Clients Sucking the Life Out of Your Business?

I hear freelance horror stories on a fairly regular basis… Unanticipated hours spent trying to please a single client that won’t be pleased, countless revisions when the client doesn’t even know what he or she wants, doing all of this after the client argued for a huge discount in the first place.

If you’ve ever been stuck with a client who just won’t be satisfied no matter what you do, then you know exactly how this situation feels. It seems like nothing that you do is right and all of it needs to be redone.

Meanwhile, you can’t devote yourself to new clients because you’re spending all of your time on one or two extremely demanding clients. It’s as though a vampire has come and sucked all of the life out of your freelancing business.

What’s a freelancer to do when one or a few clients take up the majority of his or her energy without providing the majority of his or her income?

Dealing with Vampire Clients — Realistic Options

Realistically, what can you do about a so-called “vampire” client? Your job as a freelancer is to please your customers, right?

Well, it is true that good customer service is extremely vital to your success as a freelancer. Loyal customers can be an important key to your business success.

However, it’s also true that not everyone will like you, and not everyone is a good client. If you freelance for long enough, eventually you’re going to encounter someone who just doesn’t get along with you.

As a freelancer and a professional are you tied to your vampire clients forever?

I say no.

One of the beautiful things about freelancing is that you can pick and choose which projects you accept and who you will work with. Unlike a traditional job where you may be forced to work in an unpleasant environment for months, years, or even decades, freelancing offers you the opportunity to cut your losses and move on.

Questions to Ask Before Stepping Away from a Client

If you can help it, it’s important not to burn your bridges. If you can’t help it, however, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this client taking a disproportionate amount of my time?
  • Have I done everything that I can possibly do?
  • Have I exhausted all reasonable resources that I could turn to make this project better?
  • Has the scope of this project changed significantly since it began without any changes in compensation or time allotted?

If you answered yes to most of those questions, then you may be dealing with a vampire client situation. It may be time to put an end to the project that is keeping you from being productive.

Actually ending the project or relationship can be tricky, though. Here are a few tips:

How to End Your Relationship With a Vampire Client

You may wonder how you can walk away from a nightmare client and still maintain a positive relationship with them.

Ideally, of course, you want all of your client relationships to be positive. You depend partly on referrals and testimonials from your clients to get future business, so making sure that all of your clients are happy is important.

But, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s just not possible to keep everyone happy. A few people will never be satisfied.

Ending a client relationship is never something to be done lightly. It should only be used as a last resort

If you do have to end a relationship with a client whose project has been taking all of your time and energy, try to do so on a positive note. You might say something like this:

It seems like we’re just not on the same wavelength about XYZ. I thought
that I could do this project, but in retrospect I no longer believe that I’m the best person for the job. You might try contacting John Doe (if possible, name a freelancer who might be able to work with the client).

Will the client be mad at you? Maybe.

Will you get your money? Maybe not, but at least you’ll have your time back and be free to pursue projects that are a better match for your abilities.

Have You Faced a Vampire Client?

Have you ever dealt with a vampire client or project? How did you handle the situation? Without naming names or pointing fingers (we’re not that kind of blog), share your story with everyone in the comments.

Hopefully we can help some freelancers find their way out of a difficult situation.

Top image originally by gruntzooki and modified by FreelanceFolder