Working with difficult clients is one of the challenges of the freelancer; it can be a very intense relationship -- just you and the client, face-to-face in your office discussing the project.
The client who doesn't know what he or she wants
Sometimes, a client admires your skills and has faith in your ability, but is unsure of what he or she wants you to do for his business. This client can quickly become a disgruntled ex-client if you, as a professional freelancer, do not take the reins. If the goals are unclear, there can be no action plan to lead to any specific outcome. Make sure you ask the client to send an email stating exactly what he/she wants you to do. Let the client know you will begin work on what was requested, and if there are changes, he or she will be billed per hour for meetings, emails, phone calls and text messages.
Billing for your time will reinforce the fact that you are a professional, you will be paid for your time, expertise and energy and billing will cut out the chit chat.
Some people like to think out loud, lack focus or will come to you without a clear idea of even how to begin. Charge a fee for a brainstorming session whether it's on the phone, online or in person.
You can come up with different rates: phone/Skype meeting fee, in-person fee, email conversation fee
Keep it simple, stay focused and don't let the difficult client unnerve you.
You must keep track of your hours when you work for a company, so when you look at your check, you can see that you worked twenty hours and were paid for twenty hours -- the same holds true for a freelancer.
If you are paid for twenty hours and work thirty hours to appease a difficult person, you have to ask yourself: Why don't I have a work schedule? Why did I choose to continue working with this client?
A difficult client might not be worth keeping, so write a list of pros and cons.
Is this person a valuable resource?
Is this person one from whom you'd like a recommendation?
Is this person an opportunity to learn valuable lessons?
Is this person someone with whom you'd do business if your freelancing business were booming?
The noncompliant client
The client who hires you as a personal trainer, social media consultant, networker and doesn't follow the advice is a special character. Don't take the noncompliance personally; it is a manifestation of their individual issues which are much deeper than what you were hired to handle.
You really can't make someone do something they don't want to do, and perhaps, hiring you was the action he/she thought would turn things around and it didn't. Make sure you charge them a fee for their life lesson because when you're freelancing, every minute counts!