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When to Walk Away from a Client: 15 Ultimate Reasons

Knowing ‘when’ to walk away from a client can:

  • Relive stress
  • Free up business resources
  • Propel your business forward.

This post discusses the 15 ultimate reasons to walk away from a client, whether you are a:

  • Complete newbie in your industry, or a
  • Seasoned pro.

And for the ‘how’ in walking away from a client, check out this post.

Read on or use the the table of contents to ‘jump’ to a specific section in the post.

Table of Contents

1. Your Client’s Project is Not a Good Fit

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Can you meet the client’s most basic needs?
  • Is what the client’s asking for beyond your skillset?
  • Are you interested and feel confident about delivering this project?

Because: If you cannot meet the client’s most basic needs, then you’re not a good fit and you should decline to help them.

And: If the project is beyond your skillset, you should respectfully decline by ‘stating that’, and then ideally refer them to other providers who can help them. Most clients will respect your honesty and value your help in directing towards the next step.

Finally: If the project does not interest you (at all) then that’s a red flag. 

Because no interest = no passion (critical / discussed in this post) and a strong likelihood you cannot deliver the best results for the project.

And lack of confidence in a project leads to mediocre results as discussed here by Medium.

2. Your Client Has Unrealistic Goals and Expectations

Clients who set unrealistic goals are setting themselves up for:

  • Negative emotion
  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Feeling like a failure (according to Routine Excellence).

And even worse according to HuffPost (more here), unrealistic goals create a culture of failure as it becomes:

  • Excusable
  • Acceptable
  • Expected.

Similarly, clients with high expectations, that believe you will solve all their problems, can be extremely hard to work with.

Because whatever you do, you may never please them!

3. Your Client is Not Right to Work with Says Your Instinct

Instinct is everything.

It’s a science according to Success to go with your gut.

In business many CEO’s make very difficult calls based largely on their instinct.

And in copywriting it’s one of the 3 golden keys to success in copywriting discussed here.

So whatever it is – like differences between you and the client in:

  • Style
  • Personality
  • Personal preferences

Always trust your instinct and if it does not ‘feel right’ walk away from the client.

4. Your Client Asks You to Work for Free

An absolute deal breaker. And if they say it, just walk away!

Because client’s who expect you to work for free do not ‘value’ your:

  • Time
  • Services.

And never get caught in the trap of believing if you just do a ‘great’ job now, then they will offer more work in the future.

It never happens!

Takeaway: You’re a ‘professional’ and not a ‘non-profit’ organisation. So time is ‘money’ and if the roles were reversed would your client work for free? I think not! Walk away.

5. Your Client Promises You Future Work for Lower Rates

Run (and fast) when you hear a client say this!

And this also goes for the scenario where your client wants to pay later in exchange for a big opportunity right now.

Because you don’t need a degree in:

  • Sales
  • Psychology
  • Rocket science

To know these are tactics used by some clients to negotiate a lower rate. So whatever you do, don’t fall for this trap and walk away from this client.

6. Your Client Doesn’t Have the Budget

Time is money. 

So don’t make the false assumption that a client with no budget now, will have the budget in the future.

Because for every client without the budget, there will always be a new client in the future, that does have the budget.

Besides, you have other clients to service in your business who do have the budget, and it makes no sense to take away ‘time’ and ‘resources’ from your loyal clients.

Takeaway: No budget now = no budget in the future (the assumption you need to make). So walk away.

7. Your Client Complains About Your Fee

If a client is complaining about your fee now, then they clearly do not see your value.


  • Working hard
  • Getting great results

May be the obvious step to change this perception but stop.

Because a negative perception now, about your value, is a ‘red flag’ that this client may never see the true value of your services.

And unfortunately, as time goes on (no matter what you do) you may find yourself always having to justify your fees.

And why?

Because remember that for every client that complains there will be a better one out there that doesn’t.

Takeaway: Complaints about fee = walk away.

8. Your Client is Located in a Different Time Zone

A big difference in time zone can be easy or challenging. It all depends on the needs of your client.

Because if they are requiring a dedicated service and you are in Sydney and they are in New York: That could be a real challenge!

It could mean you have to change your whole ‘lifestyle’ to work with them effectively.

Takeaway: Ask yourself is it worth it? And again it will depend on the needs of your client but don’t be afraid to walk away if in doubt, because for every client in another time zone, there is always another one in your time zone.

9. Your Client is a Poor Communicator

Communication is everythingAnd communication in copywriting is everything.

So communication with your client is a biggie.

Whether it be them being:

  • Unresponsive
  • Invisible (by disappearing)
  • A poor communicator generally

Communication with your client = results achieved = happy client.

Takeaway: Don’t risk a continued relationship with a ‘consistently’ poor communicating client. And the keyword is ‘consistently.’ Because ‘consistent’ poor communication is destined for miserable failure (so walk away).

10. Your Client is Destroying Your Quality of Life

 If you have a client that is:

  • On your ‘mind’ all the time (consuming your thoughts)
  • Getting you in a negative state (through constant dealings with them)
  • Making your life a misery (from the moment you wake up in the morning)

Then (and I can’t say this any louder): Walk away!

Because money becomes insignificant if your quality of life is poor.

We all breath, live, stop breathing and die.

And ‘living in the moment’ (while living) results in 15 powerful benefits according to Business Insider.

Takeaway: ‘Live in the moment’ and if a client is impacting on that, walk away.

11. Your Client is Taking All Your Resources

Some clients are bound to take up more of your time than others. But the clients taking up all your resources, are the one’s you need to take immediate action to walk away.

Because these clients distract you from your other client projects (and keeping them happy).

Not to mention bringing in new clients (which is key to growing your business).

Takeaway: Never get caught in the trap of depleting your business resources with demanding clients (that often have unrealistic expectations). Because it will only be to the detriment of your business. Walk away.

12. Your Client Does Not Treat You Right

And this includes your client:

  • Talking Inappropriately or rudely towards you
  • Being verbally abusive towards you
  • Using pressure tactics towards you.

Never put up with these 3 things and walk away.

Life is short (and as discussed in 10. your client is destroying your quality of life) this will only destroy the quality of your life and no one wants that.

Takeaway: Everyone has the right to be treated ‘fairly’, regardless of whether it’s a ‘personal relationship’ or ‘business relationship.’ So any sign that you are not being treated right, walk away.

13. Your Client Undermines Your Professional Advice

So your client hires you in an area that they’re not an ‘expert’ in.

But then they ignore / disagree with what you recommend (even though it may be best practice).

And not only that, they do this ‘consistently.’

A client that does this is clearly undermining your professional advice.

Takeaway: Working in collaboration with your client is business 101. But a client who consistently questions you goes against business relationships 101. Whatever you do (especially if it’s ‘consistent’) do not tolerate it and walk away.

14. Your Client Has You Competing with Other Vendors

Competition is great.

But when your client has you competing with other vendors, it may not be worth it!

And especially if there is more than 3 vendors.

It’s always your decision as a business owner (only you know your capabilities) but too many vendors in the mix can: 

= greater time investment = wasted resources = lost time.

Takeaway: If there are many vendors in the mix, think carefully, and be prepared to walk away.

15. Your Client Consistently Pays Late

The keyword is ‘consistently.’ Because occasionally it can be excused.

But if it’s:

  • Month 1 (Overdue notice 1, 2 & 3)
  • Month 2 (Overdue notice 1, 2 & 3)
  • Month 3 (Overdue notice 1, 2 & 3)

It’s time to walk away.

Because ‘consistent’ late payment shows a lack of respect in the value of your services.

And delivering business value is:

Takeaway: Don’t accept ‘consistent’ late payment and walk away.


Any business will have good, great, and bad clients. That’s business 101.

But ‘business life’ (like life) is short. And ‘business life’ (like life) is meant to be enjoyed.

So (for your own sanity) don’t be afraid to walk away if your client falls into one of the 15 ultimate reasons discussed in this post. 

And for ‘how’ to walk away effectively, click here.

Over to You…

Do you agree with 15 Ultimate Reasons to Walk Away from a Client? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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