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How to Let a Freelancer Go With Tactful Ease

Freelancers are an important part of the workforce today for many companies. It’s estimated that 56 million Americans alone do some type of freelance work. This puts companies and employers in the unique position of managing a sometimes-remote workforce that’s not exactly like a regular employee.

So how do you fire a freelancer?

Well, for one thing you aren’t really “firing” a freelancer because, as a contractor, they don’t technically work for you in a traditional sense. But that doesn’t mean that letting someone go, even when you have been working with them on a freelance basis, isn’t hard. It really is! Plus, you are probably taking work away from them that they have been counting on for their income. You probably feel a little bad about this. You still have to look out for what’s in the best interest of your company above all.

The good news is that freelancers are used to the give-and-take of being a 1099 worker or “independent contractor.” Even if they have long term contracts with clients, it’s expected that needs and budgets can change at any moment.

Time to Say Goodbye

When you employ the services of a large group of freelancers, it’s inevitable that you might have to discontinue using them at some point. Whether that is due to a change in your workflow needs, the quality of work the freelancers is providing you isn’t what you want, or you may have just plain found someone that suits your needs better. All these scenarios happen pretty regularly with freelance people.

No matter what the reason, no one likes to tell someone to scram, get lost, or take a hike. Just kidding. You wouldn’t say that to anyone, but there are ways to tactfully let someone go with ease. Here are some dos and don’ts when you are ready to ax someone’s freelance work from your team:

Don’t Just Ghost Them

This is a truly frustrating part of being a freelance worker. When a freelancer has a client that they count on or have been working with for a long time, and suddenly the client just vanishes with absolutely zero reason, it can leave the freelancer feeling like they did something wrong. They will rack their brain, going over every little interaction, even if on the surface things with the contract were going well.

Do Give a Courtesy Call or Email

It’s up to you as the client or employer if you want to discontinue the freelancer’s service by phone or email. This can depend on how you normally communicate with them. If they are a remote worker, then a phone call or email is fine. If they normally come into your office, it’s something you probably want to do in person. Either way, it’s appropriate and considerate to give them a heads-up that your needs have changed. Tell them the honest reason. The freelancer has heard every reason in the book for when a client’s needs change, so you won’t be shocking them with your honesty.

Don’t Write Them Off Completely

If you feel like their work as a freelancer was valuable, but the reason you are letting them go is because of budget constraints, you may want to keep that relationship open. Future work might come up with your company and it’s always good to have a roster of freelancers you trust that you can count on in a pinch.

Do Compliment the Freelancer’s Work

Even when the door is about to hit the freelancer on the way out, it helps to ease some of the sting with a few kind words. Make sure you tell them how much their freelance work benefited your company. It’s always easier to hear the good things they did for you when you are discontinuing their services. This is called softening the blow.

Be respectful and complimentary, especially if you possibly want to use them again in the future. Ask the freelancer if they wouldn’t mind staying in your Rolodex (is this a thing still?) for upcoming projects if your budget needs expand. On the flip side if you know that you won’t be using them again, don’t make it seem like you will. That will just give the freelancer hope that more work from you might be coming their way from your company.


Above all before you end any freelance and client relationship, make sure you have paid them fully for all of their services. Don’t leave them hanging on waiting for money you owe them to go through. That’s just bad business.

Keep in mind if you do need to let go of a freelancer because their performance for you isn’t exceeding your expectations, there are thousands of highly qualified writers ready to serve your content needs on WriterAccess. Stop by to get started with your risk-free 30 day trial today.


Writer Access 5-Star Writer Kelly R.Kelly R is a Beauty Editor and experienced copywriter, with a keen eye for creating all kinds of marketing content that sells. Having a background in journalism, she has written for many different online and print publications including Allure, Mode Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, Seminole, and The New Yorker. As a published author, her book on beauty and style is available at bookstores nationwide and at Amazon and Barnes & Noble stores.

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By WriterAccess

Freelancer Kelly R

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