The following post is an excerpt from my new e-Book series, How to Become an e-Learning Freelancer. The three volumes in the series are designed to be easy-to-use, practical guides to getting your freelance e-Learning career off the ground. Learn more here!
In the first few years of my e-Learning freelance career, like many freelancers, I focused more on getting paid than I did on doing work that I loved. I dreamed of someday only doing e-Learning work, but I had bills to pay and a business to get off the ground in the meantime. As a result, I started taking on work as a technical writer, which I never really enjoyed due to the extremely tight timelines, dry subject matter, and chaotic review cycles—but it paid well. Then, before I knew it, my technical writing clients were making up the majority of my client roster, and I was spending most of my time on work that wasn’t aligned with my goals or my values. It was a problem I hadn’t prepared for: how can I reach my goals when the work I need to take to stay afloat uses up all of my time?
Eventually, I reached a hard conclusion: if I was ever going to have a career doing the e-Learning work that I enjoyed the most, I was going to have to break up with the clients whose work was pulling me in other directions. I learned quite a bit from that process, so this week I’d like to talk about the signs that it’s time to break up with a client, and a few of my preferred techniques for ending client relationships.
Mindset Change: Some Clients Can Hold You Back
As freelancers, given how much work we put into our portfolios, branding kits, and businesses, the idea of ending a client relationship can be a tough pill to swallow. I myself have used the logic, “I worked so hard to find this client, and they pay well, I would be foolish to let them go!” And depending on the financial health of your business, you may need to maintain a few clients who offer work you don’t enjoy to maintain an income flow—only you can decide when it’s the right time to take action.
But the key strategy to evolving the work you do is to always remember that some clients can hold you back from your career goals. The time you spend working with and for these clients is all time you could be putting towards finding clients and work that’s better aligned with the type of work you want to be doing. Once you begin to look at misaligned work as a hindrance to your professional development, it becomes a lot easier to see past the “any paying work is good work” mentality. For me, it was a matter of asking myself before each technical writing project I took on: “Is the money I get from this project worth delaying the goals I set for myself?”
[This topic continues in my e-Book series, How to Become an e-Learning Freelancer.]