Sometimes you need to walk away from a freelance project. But if you’re not careful, you could wind up in serious legal trouble if you don’t fulfill your half of the contract. So to make sure you never wind up trapped in a bad freelance project, make sure you include these three “emergency exit” terms in your cancellation policy.
Every now and then, you may need to walk away in the middle of a freelance project.
Now I’m not a fan of cancelling a project on a client.
And as a Pro-Lancer, I will do everything in my power to try to get the job done for them first.
In fact, when I wrote about how to “fire” a freelance client…
My first suggestion was actually not to fire them.
But to try to find a creative way to update your engagement that would make both parties happy again instead.
However sometimes — despite your best efforts — you will need to cancel one of your freelance projects before it’s over.
But If You’re Not Careful, You Could Wind Up In Serious Legal Trouble If You Don’t Deliver On Your Half Of A Contract With A Client
So today, I want to share three key “emergency exit” terms you need to include in your cancellation policy.
Because without these three terms, you may not have the legal right to walk away from a project.
And that means you could face serious consequences if you don’t finish the project as agreed.
But before I go further, remember…
I’m not a lawyer. And this is not legal advice.
So make sure you do your own due diligence before you follow any of these suggestions.
Personally, I Make Sure That The Cancellation Terms In My Contract Do Three Key Things
1. Give Me The Power To End A Project At Any Time, For Any Reason
That way, no matter what happens, I have the ability to walk away if necessary.
But I’ll also show you in a second how I make sure that whoever cancels the project has more to lose. That way, both myself and the client have skin in the game when terminating a project early.
2. Explain What Happens To The Partially Completed Work
When you cancel a project early, you need to specify what happens to the unfinished work.
How you approach this will depend on the services you offer.
But for me, I will turn over whatever work I’ve completed up to the point when the project ends. And I also specify the client gets the copyright and any other intellectual property for that work going forward, too.
3. Specify The Compensation For The Incomplete Project
You also want to make sure that you are fairly compensated for the time you spend on a project before it’s cancelled. Especially if you’re going to turn over the unfinished work for the client to use.
But at the same time, to make it fair, the party who cancels the project should bear more of the financial burden.
Which is why I set up my cancellation policy so that whoever cancels the project has more to lose.
For example, after I turn in a first draft…
If the client cancels, I earn 75% of the total project fee.
But if I’m the one who cancels, then I only earn 50% of the total project fee.
So I make less money if I cancel the project.
Since the client will likely need to find another writer to finish the job. And offering them a bigger refund gives them more budget to find someone else.
On the other hand, I make more money if the client cancels the project.
Since I likely had to turn down other work to focus on their project. So the extra payment helps make up for some of that lost opportunity.
(This is also why I use my Landlord Retainer model to collect the final month’s payment for my retainers up front.)
With These Three “Emergency Exit” Terms In Place, You And The Client Will Agree In Advance About What Is Fair If The Project Ends Early
So you shouldn’t feel (too) guilty if you need to cancel a project. Since you and the client have already come up with a fair process for this exact scenario.
And that means, if you need to walk away, you can say something like this…
“Hi [Client], unfortunately I’m going to need to exercise my right to end this project according to [Section C.a] of our contract. I’ve attached the draft of the project up to this point. And I will be keeping the initial deposit as the compensation for this partial deliverable like the contract says.”
Of course, the more you can do to help the client finish the job, the better. Since that will minimize any harm to your reputation.
So if you can also refer them to other freelancers who can help them get the job done on time and under budget, that would be even better.
Yet as long as you have these three cancellation terms in place, you will always be able to walk away from a bad client or take time off in an emergency.
You’ll just need to take a bigger financial hit as well.
But if you’re the one breaking off the project early, then that’s only fair.
Now Let Me Show You How To Make Freelance Clients Come To You — Like Clockwork — Using A Simple, 30-Second Conversation…
All the details are inside my free business blueprint 30-Second Referrals.
With this free PDF, you’ll discover how to use a simple, 30-second conversation to get two referrals from every single client you sign. (I’ll even show you exactly what to say during this conversation with my word-for-word script on page 13.)
That way, you can make clients come to you like clockwork. And you can fill your pipeline with more new business than you can handle.
But there is a small catch…
30-Second Referrals is only available to members The Freelance Like A Pro email list.
So enter your best real email below to join us and claim your free copy of 30-Second Referrals now. (And you’ll get my members-only emails to help you run a more profitable and stress-free freelance business, too.)
Enter your first name & best real email (no aliases)
Thanks for the freelancing guide and the emails that you've been sending out — the 30-second referral method is so stupidly simple, that it's genius!Connor Inch, Freelance Copywriter