This tactic starts strong, then fizzles

Ex-clients gave you business and money at one point, so it’s often easy to get business and money from them again. As a short-term strategy, this can work.

1. Your client expects your former rate.

Your current rate is so much higher than what you used to charge that they can’t make sense of it. You’ll have to negotiate and maybe still take a pay cut. Even if they do agree to pay your current rate, they’ll feel like they’re overpaying.

2. If the client urgently needed a writer, they would’ve taken the first step.

They probably haven’t forgotten about you. It’s more likely that they don’t need a writer enough to reach out and get the ball rolling.

When a client hires you out of convenience (you popped up in their inbox, after all), there isn’t lasting value for you. Don’t expect to get traction beyond stocking your fridge for the week or affording a weekend away — which may be exactly what you’re going for. But in general, reel in your expectations.

Remember that there’s a reason you no longer work together

Common reasons for ending a client-writer relationship include:

  • You changed the type of writing you do (blog posts vs. social media copy) or focus on different topics now
  • The client moved fast when launching their business but ran out of a budget for content
  • The client was unreliable for some reason and you stopped bothering

Don’t be desperate … even if you’re desperate

When your bank account is low, you forget all about the client’s proven flakiness. Chances are that their unpredictability is still there, though. Expecting anything more than a one-off project sets you up for disappointment.

When to maintain contact with an ex-client

Sometimes, the reason why you parted ways isn’t a roadblock to getting back together. One of my best clients was also one of my first, with a big break in the middle. I had to negotiate a bit, but the value of having him in my regular schedule outweighs the few cents per word I lose.

Hey you! I offer business coaching to freelance writers. Learn more here.