When To Break Up With Your Client

3 Reasons To Leave A Client And How

Stephanie Asmus
7 min readMar 6, 2019


Whether an agency or a freelancer, most careers begin by taking on a lot of work for little pay. Without a strong portfolio to start, many clients are taking a risk to work with you; as a result, you cut the price and raise the expectations, hoping for either a great review and portfolio project or more work down the road. Eventually, as you grow in your career, you start to bill more and more appropriately to your worth and wonder how on earth you ever took on such a project for little pay.

It is in these early stages of our careers that many of us fall into relationships with the wrong clients. It’s hard to set expectations, know the red flags and really know what we want in a client. In some ways, the starting relationships of working with clients are similar to our teenage years of dating. Some of us do turn our high school sweethearts into life-long marriages. Most of us would rather pretend it never happened.

At the end of the day, the right clients can help make or break the business and career of an agency or freelancer. Knowing when, and how, to move on from a client is an essential skill set to have to grow your business.

There are 3 reasons to break up with a client:

1. Unrealistically High Expectations

These are clients who either expect a lot of work for little pay, expect you to be able to do something that isn’t possible or require a lot more resources and support than they are paying for. They email and call constantly, want to have 10 meetings a week, want a dedicated person at their beck and call, believe everything is “in scope” per your agreement, and can’t understand why you don’t have them ranking #1 on Google yet.

Ironically, I usually find these clients to be the ones who are paying the least or have the smallest business. Which makes sense- let’s say your company is Facebook….$2,000/mo. is nothing; which might not be the case for a three-man startup who put their savings into starting an app.

Historically, the client gets to this place with your help. So it’s a little bit your fault they’re like this. You either just kept saying yes, overpromised, or ignored the warning signs before…



Stephanie Asmus

Austin-based designer, writer, and entrepreneur. www.stephasmus.com | IG/@stephasmus