From time to time, we’ll need to send a resignation letter to freelance clients.
Sometimes it is because we have discovered certain benefits like being able to take on new clients that are either a better fit, pay us more with bigger projects. And sometimes.. *gasp*, it’s because the client sucks.
Other times, we might want to resign from a specific project but not from the client entirely.
Often a resignation letter is too much and it can feel weird both for you to send the letter and for your client to receive it if it comes out of the blue while they didn’t expect it.
In this article, I’ll show you a copy-paste template you can use as a resignation letter for your freelance clients.
Before we jump into that, let’s talk about which other options you can leverage and how to handle the situation gracefully so you don’t burn any bridges and can work with them again in the future.
Before the resignation letter
Most of the time, you’ll want to have a talk with them first to clarify any misunderstandings and only send the letter if you need to for formal reasons.
If you are feeling negative and want to resign, make sure that you’ve communicated the challenges politely to your client, so you both have had a chance to tweak things.
Your client might not realize what happened and there might be a realistic solution to continue working together if you like the client.
The first step is to get clear with yourself why you are doing it and that it is for the right reasons – not just because you have a bad day.
Rather than simply resigning, there might be other opportunities you can take advantage of.
One option is to increase the pricing and either earn more or resign from the client. For that, you’ll have to figure out how much extra would make it worth it for you, because they might say yes.
And it’s difficult to back out after that.
Another option is to use the Trusted Advisor technique and offer to look in your network for another freelancer to help them.
That allows you to show them that you have their best interest at heart and you might be able to get more, better, projects from them. It’s a great way to build trust with the client.
Sometimes you’ll be an even better freelancer by suggesting another freelancer’s services for your own benefit.
For example, if that other freelancer is more affordable and offers a similar quality of work as you.
By recommending them, your client will get a better deal for that project and you’ll have gained more trust and can help the client with other projects. On top of that, you might even earn a commission from the freelancer if they make a deal with the client.
Other reasons why it could make sense might be that the other freelancer offers a more specialist role for a certain project.
For example, if you do Facebook ads and there is someone who only builds chatbots, it might make sense to bring them in for a small project or even white-label their services from you to your client.
Resignation letter freelance template
But sometimes, it’s just time to resign and stop working with a client. A couple of polite “excuses” to resigning could be:
- You are too busy with other projects
- You have family or personal reasons/challenges
- Someone else is better suited (you have to share specifically who and why)
- Your freelance business is evolving and you want to focus on a different type of clients or service
As you are resigning, you’ll want to offer a hand-over to look good along with enough notice time in advance. Work with the client to figure out how long they prefer that to be.
That way, they won’t get stuck with projects or documents you’ve worked on and have to hire another freelancer to sort out any mess that is left.
This often happens with programming or website projects and a new freelancing coming onboard will have no idea what has been done and now has to retrace everything.
That is costly for your client and doesn’t make you look good. You’ve already spent time pitching and working with them, so by not burning your bridges you could land more work in the future or get referrals for other projects because the trust is still there.
Either way, there is no reason to build a bad reputation that exceeds you because you might run into a glass ceiling down the road. Your dream client might have heard something negative about you and thus don’t want to collaborate.
Normally, you might see other freelancers say something like this:
I hope you’re having a great week!
I wanted to let you know that I can’t accept any freelance assignments after [DATE].
I recently landed a project that will take up most of my time, and I need to free up some workload for that.
I’ll wrap up any assignments we currently have and if there are any other loose ends you need me to tie up in the meantime, please let me know.
Thanks again. I wish you all the best.
Let’s stay in touch
What’s going on here?
Do you notice all the “I”’s? It’s all about the sender. The problem is that we are making the client do extra work. Never let the client do extra work.
Either you can be paid for it and if not, you’ll look way better moving forward and leave a lasting great impression.
Here’s a better approach:
As we spoke about, I’ll be focusing on other projects after [DATE]. We agreed that I’d send a written note.
I’ve had a great time working with you and I particularly liked [Y-project].
I have attached a document [link] with my outstanding tasks and suggestions as to who could handle them moving forward.
In the document, you’ll see the status for each task along with my approach (or steps) to completing it. I’ll be available to help with questions, training, and hand-over for the next three weeks as we agreed.
Please have a look at let me know if there is anything else I can do to make sure that the transition is smooth and pain-free for you.
Do you notice the difference?
Here, we are doing it for them. We have prepared everything to save them time and give peace of mind that there is nothing outstanding and we’ve mitigated that they’ll have to play catch up and be stuck with your tasks after you leave.
We even offer time to help out if something is unclear after. This way, there should be nothing for your client to do as you’ll help train whoever replaces you.
It’s rare that I’ve seen anyone do this and when I’ve tested it in the field, I’ve gotten great feedback. It allows you to keep a great relationship and open up for future opportunities down the road.
Offering something tangible makes the client feel like they are getting more which helps you display your value.
Before you do this, you should absolutely speak with them either on the phone, in person, or via whatever other means you usually communicate through. This should not come as a surprise to them via a formal email because you are in the business of relationships.
Here’s a template you can use for handovers. Click file > make a copy to get your own copy.
What do to after the resignation
If you liked the client, you’ll want to casually stay in touch with them in the future. That way, it’ll be easier for you to get new projects without having to pitch from scratch.
A simple approach to that is to make a notice in your calendar to check in with them once a month. Set aside a bit of time to find something that might be interesting for them a send over a note. That could be an e.g. an article or video that you think they might like along with a note of why.
- Work to iron out any confusion or miscommunication before you resign. You’ll never know how they may be able to help you in the future
- Focus on a smooth transition and help them by documenting what you’ve done, how and why so they can proceed without problems