Being a freelancer enables you to do many things that traditional employment can't. You can set your own work hours, create your own workspace, and can choose how many projects to work on. But there's one other power that most freelancers don't exercise, and that's the power to quit their freelance gigs.
Hold on a minute, why would I want to quit a freelance gig that brings in income? That's crazy!
Maybe, but there are scenarios where you, the freelancer, must decide if your current freelance gigs are worth your time and effort. For instance, you've just raised your rates and would rather work on projects billed at that rate, or your employer is becoming difficult to work with. You may also have upcoming plans that will force you to be away-from-keyboard for a long time. It can be any of these situations.
If you feel that it's time to quit any of your freelance gigs, here's how to do it professionally and gracefully:
- Think hard about your reasons to quit before making decisions. If you can honestly say that you still love working on your freelance gig, consider alternatives to quitting, such as asking your employer for a raise or arranging a conference call to discuss work issues.
- Call or email your employer to discuss leaving. Your employer deserves to know why you've decided to quit working on his project, so get your employer's attention as soon as he's available. You can inform him personally, over the phone, or by email -- depending on your current situation. In the end, make sure that you and your employer agree to the specifics of your leaving arrangement (what work you will finish, what you will not, your last day of availability, etc.), be sure that there are no hard feelings, and explain why you need to quit. It's not important that your employer affirms your decision, only that you are content with it.
- Finish what needs to be finishedand pass on any important documents or files to your employer before you leave. It is only right that you fulfill the remainder of your responsibilities as a freelancer, and hand over important files that your client will need to continue his project. Depending on the type of work that you do, you should return or submit any of the following:
- Copies of usernames and passwords to admin accounts
- Files (PHP, CSS stylesheets, etc) needed for the employer's website
- Articles, website copy, blog posts, and other types of content already paid for
- Mock-ups and the final designs for the employer's logos, images, etc.
- Sincerely thank your employer. Unless you're quitting due to a serious dispute, don't forget to thank her for the opportunity to work on her project. At the end of your message, you can say, "Thank you [insert client name] for your kind understanding. I hope you will find a new contractor as soon as possible, and I wish you all the best in your endeavors." Whatever works for you, it's always best to leave with no regrets or resentments.
- Don't forget to ask for a recommendation, a.k.a. feedback, by making a kind and professional request to send you a letter or (even better for freelancers) leave feedback in your online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc., about what you had to offer them and how you performed. This shouldn't be a problem, if your employer is not in disagreement with your decision to quit. (Get this recommendation now, not later, even if you already have another gig lined up.)
Have you ever quit a freelance gig before? How did it go? Was your employer understanding or difficult to deal with after you broke the news?