How to Lose a Client in 10 Days

Now, wait a minute! “LOSE a client?” Aren’t we supposed to be finding and keeping our clients?

Yes. Absolutely, yes.

But there may come a time when your business is booming. Your niche has become more specific. Your fees are getting higher.

You realize there is one client holding you back from growing to your full potential:

Living the writer’s life on YOUR terms, earning YOUR fees, and feeling successful every day.

Why Break Up with a Client?

There are many good reasons why you would want to break up with a client:

  1. You’re not getting paid the fee you deserve, or you want to raise your fees and they don’t want to pay them.
  2. You’re not in love with their niche or their projects.
  3. They are “high maintenance” and don’t respect your terms of service.

The list goes on.

So, do YOU have a client like this? Someone who isn’t the right fit for you? Do you think it might be time to “fire” your client?

It isn’t an easy decision, and carrying it out can be difficult, emotional, and tense. BUT …

  • The rewards are going to be tangible. You will have more energy, less stress, and extra time to take care of your business.
  • The benefits will far outweigh the discomfort of the struggle.
  • You will feel free, refreshed, and energized.

With the help of this article, you’ll find instead of a struggle, it’s just another item on your to-do list.

Plus, we’re going to work carefully to ensure that when it’s all over, you’ll be able to ask for—and receive—a glowing testimonial.

You might find the process surprisingly upbeat.

The 10 days are actually more like steps, but because you’re busy writing, it is easier to do one small step every day.

Don’t underestimate the power of taking your time here. Do everything carefully and decisively.

Day 1. Make a list of pros and cons.

What are the good, the bad, and the ugly consequences of continuing to work with this client?

Pros may be that you have developed a good relationship with the client, that you enjoy working with them, and that they have a good team.

Cons may be that you aren’t being paid enough. Or you don’t go crazy-banana-bonkers over new projects or their niche topic.

Day 2. Make a definite decision.

You need to decide once and for all if you are ready to break up with this client or not.

If you think maybe you’d like to continue working with them, but not full-time, it’s OK to put them on the back burner and inform them that you’d like to take fewer projects.

However, if you know that the client simply doesn’t have the marketing budget to pay your fees (which you deserve!) or their business (financial products) simply doesn’t interest you (you’re into green living), then it’s time to move on.

Take a look at your pros and cons list and make the right decision. It may not make you or the client immediately happy. But in the end, it will be better for both of you.

Remember: success comes from happiness. If you’re not writing what you love, you are actually doing your client and the future of your business a disservice.

Today, make a decision and don’t look back.

Day 3. Write a letter.

This letter is addressed to your client. But you will never send it.

The purpose is to get all of your emotions out onto paper so that they don’t show up in your future communications with your client.

The number one thing that you want in the next few days is to be as professional—and unemotional—as possible. If you are holding onto bitterness, stress, or anger, let it out onto the page.

Take a few minutes or take an hour. Whatever it takes to make sure that you are level-headed.

Day 4. Decide on your medium.

Some people suggest only a face-to-face chat when breaking up with a client.

But if you’re working from home, your client could be in Rome or California or Canada.

Which means that you’ve probably never met, maybe have never spoken, and have used only email to communicate.

Obviously, a trip to Rome is out of the question. And if you suddenly request a phone chat, it may put your client’s guard up.

In fact, email has a lot of benefits:

  • It enables you both to be level-headed and professional.
  • It gives you time to choose your words carefully.
  • It is more comfortable.
  • It is much less emotional.

Email is no longer perceived as rude, even for important correspondence.

If you always communicate with your clients over the phone, I still suggest starting the conversation with an email. That way, your client has time to collect his or her thoughts and isn’t completely shocked over the phone.

If you do choose to use the phone, write out the reasons you are breaking up with them. Word them in a way that is objective, not pointed. Have your reasons in front of you.

You might also write down encouraging notes, like “do NOT concede” or “this is YOUR business—take control!”

Whether the email is the final correspondence or a stepping stone to a phone conversation, keep reading.

Day 5. Write your email.

Here is a template to get you started:

Subject: Changes

Hello {client},

I hope all is going well.

Unfortunately, I am no longer able to provide copywriting services to {client company name}.

The reason for this change is simple: {give a very general explanation, like: I need to write what I love. It's the only way I'll be happy in my work.}

I will continue to take the full project load until you find a replacement or until {date two weeks from now}, whichever comes first.

{Give your offer here: I would be happy to train my replacement, I have a suggestion for another copywriter who may be interested in helping you … etc.}

Coming to this decision was not easy. Please understand that this is absolutely nothing personal. It is simply the best decision for my business right now.

I have enjoyed working with you these past {timeframe of relationship}.

Thank you,

{Your Name}

The email should be very simple, very professional, and no-nonsense. Just because you’re being straightforward, though, doesn’t mean you should be rude, point fingers, or get into too much detail.

Day 6. Refine your email.

You’ve had a day to let your email sit. Now you’re ready to take a second look at it.

Make sure that your email is short, professional, and to the point. Have you said anything that could make your client defensive? Have you expressed too much emotion? Edit for professionalism and clarity.

Day 7. Send your email.

Be confident. You have already determined that this is the best decision for you and your writer’s life.

You have been through your email multiple times. You should feel confident that it’s clear and professional.

It’s time to get the ball rolling. Send that email!

Day 8. End amicably.

Even if your heart is pounding in your ears, stay confident and be patient.

You already know how long it takes for your client to answer emails. So, try not to think about it during that timeframe.

When your client responds, a few things may happen:

  • They might be totally okay with it—or at least seem that way because they’re very professional.
  • They might be mildly upset but still professional.
  • They might freak out (rarely!).

They will probably ask questions. Only answer what you feel comfortable divulging. You are not obligated to answer anything you don’t want to.

In the case that they freak out, don’t worry. It will pass. Keep the professional mindset you’ve been working on.

Day 9. Begin to follow through on your commitments.

If you have a few weeks’ worth of projects, obviously you won’t be finishing all of it in one day.

On this day, you can plan your action steps to get your projects done in a timely manner.

You may also send your client a summary of the work you’ll be finishing up.

Day 10. Write a testimonial request.

On the last day of this journey, you should begin writing an email requesting a testimonial. You can send this after all of your work is finished, you’ve been paid, and everything is settled.

When you follow these steps, you’ll break up with your client in a calm, professional manner. If they liked the work you did, they’ll have no problem writing you a testimonial. I suggest waiting a week or two to let the air clear.


You are now on your way to a better, brighter future. You have just opened an enormous new door for your business and your writer’s life.

Now you can use your newfound energy to find a new client within your niche that will pay you the fees you deserve.

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Published: May 3, 2012

1 Response to “How to Lose a Client in 10 Days”

  1. It is important to be professional and be perceived as such.

    For example, you may feel that you are a top-notch professional, but your client may feel otherwise.

    That situation, of course, goes with the territory, but you can develop that sixth sense through experience.

    Therefore, it is important to be honest and straightforward with your client at the outset. Transparency is a must in what is a two-way working relationship.

    That requires tact, so you don't end up with a blame game. Thanks.

    Archan MehtaMay 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

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