An arm with a tattoo of a heart with the word “You” in it. The word “You” is crossed out. Photo by peter bucks on Unsplash.
It’s not me, it’s you. Photo by peter bucks on Unsplash.

I lost my first freelancing client, and that’s ok.

Remember the lessons learned from working with a client, and take those lessons with you in your freelancing journey.

Earlier this year, I lost my first client as a freelancer — the first client I ever worked for.

It wasn’t a sad moment, nor was it an “Oh s**t!” moment. Losing this client was probably a good thing.

I started working with this client through a connection I made during my master’s studies. They needed a writer, and she remembered that I had mentioned that I had started freelancing part-time. We chatted about the work, and the conversation eventually turned to my rates. I gave her my hourly rate. She was surprised I could charge so much and that the quoted rate would never fly where she lives (in a different province from me). So I cut the rate in half. GASP! But it was my first client, and I wanted to get my foot in the freelancing door.

The work was exciting and varied. But the business owner was scattered, so projects often fizzled out, only to start up quickly again, with work required in a short time frame.

I made questionable decisions in my billing processes, charging for quarter-hour and half-hour increments which cut my rate even further. (Don’t worry! I don’t do that anymore!) I wasn’t earning much working with them, but I was getting experience, and that’s what I thought was important.

The work continued on and off for a couple of years, always at a low rate. Other clients were paying double (or more). Still, I didn’t want to have the difficult conversation that I needed to raise my rates for them and bring them in line with everyone else.

Earlier this year, the business owner reached out with a new project. I reviewed the details, and I knew that it would be quite a bit of work…and that I would have to bite the bullet and tell him the rate was going up. I explained the reasoning in my email response, and he said he would get back to me after he took another look at the budget.

I haven’t heard from him since.

And that’s ok.

I know my worth. My other clients have never balked at my rate, and I’ve been told I should even charge more.

Losing a client doesn’t have to be a bad or scary thing. Sometimes we need to be thankful for what we’ve learned working with that client and the experience we’ve gained.

Have you lost a client before? What was that experience like?

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