By Jonathan London on 19th November 2014

How to deal with a change of heart as a freelancer

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, you agree to something only to spend a couple of restless nights feeling as though it just isn’t quite right. Yes, being unsure about something and getting cold feet can be a pretty stressful situation to deal with, but it is not the end of the world.

There are a variety of reasons as to why a freelancer may decide that they are unsure about a project, for example the timing in which they are expected to complete it seems too short and they are aware that they will not deliver to the best of their ability, which in turn could hinder their reputation. At other times, it can just be a gut instinct which simply says that this isn’t right.


For whatever reason, should you find yourself having second thoughts as a freelancer about a specific project, there are a number of things you can do. However, your options depend on what point you are at within the agreement with the potential client.

If you are in the initial stages of discussing a project

This is obviously the easiest stage to be at when it comes to rejecting a client and getting out of a project.

If you and the client have had a couple of meetings to discuss what the actual project is when you realise that it isn’t going to quite work for whatever reason, you must inform them immediately.

Undoubtedly, even if the client is disappointed in your decision, they will appreciate being told as soon as possible so that they can make other arrangements.

Take control of the situation – after all, you are your own boss when it comes to your career choices, although be mindful that the client may well have been under the impression that you were definitely going to accept and sign for the project. It’s important to remain firm yet fair and to protect your reputation while doing so.

Make sure to clearly explain clearly your reasons should the client ask them, especially if it does come down to timing, and bear in mind that you may want to work with them again in the future on a project that is more suitable. If this is the case then it may pay off to tell them this too, as it shows that you aren’t turning down their offer for any personal reasons and helps to keep you in a good light. After all, a lot of freelancing projects come from people’s recommendations, so it’s best to keep this in your mind at all times when it comes to dealing with clients.

If you have actually begun working on the project

This is when it starts to get complicated and it all depends really on whether or not you have signed a contract. It also serves as a reminder that contracts and their particulars must be agreed on by both partners and signed before you offer any of your time to a project.

If the reason you are having second thoughts is because of a specific part of the contract, for example you feel it may cause confusion with your IR35 status, then it is best practice to speak with the client as soon as you can to discuss your issues about it. Hopefully, through explaining yourself and bringing some clarity to the situation, you can both agree to re-issue a contract which suits you better. However, it is heavily advised to really take the time to go over the contract when you are initially given it as to prevent any awkward situations from occurring.

Sometimes, however, you won’t realise that the project isn’t what you want until it is too late and you have already begun investing your time and effort into it. What you can do then really comes down to the clauses within the contract.

Technically, you can’t really just get out of a contract because you decide you want to. However, there may be a number of loopholes within the document, or even a get out clause, so make sure to really go over the contract if you do decide you don’t want to continue with the project.

If you have a justifiable reason to terminate a contract early, then make sure to speak with the client and explain yourself to them as soon as you can. You will very likely have to negotiate some sort of settlement with the client, but this is much more heavily advised if you should want to leave the project earlier than was expected.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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