Maybe its time you begin excluding customers instead of chasing them. Let me explain.
So often, as business people and entrepreneurs, and especially as freelancers, we seem to be chasing customers. This gives us an air of desperation. If you look at a customer, and all you see is a bag of groceries or a paycheck, guess what? The customer knows. They can smell desperation on you just like a dog can smell your fear. What do you do?
Sit down with a pad and pen and write up a description of your ideal customer. You know, the kind that doesn't get on your nerves, the kind that pays on time, the kind that doesn't balk at your fees, the dream customer. Once you've written out a good description of what this customer looks like, set that as your target. Pretend that for the next week or so that's the only kind of customer that you're willing to accept.
State your criteria publicly.
You don't have to be obnoxious, you don't have to state your criteria in the negative (“I don't want a whining complaining customer”, etc.). You can state your criteria in the positive:
“Looking for customers who is smart, with it, understand the value of what we do, and who is willing to pay a premium price for a job well done.” Change up the specifics to fit whatever your situation is.
But be very clear on the customers that you won't accept and work to discourage them from doing business with you. This will serve to attract the kind of customers that you want.
My friend, Michael Port, in his book, Book Yourself Solid, calls this the “velvet rope strategy.” We all understand the analogy of the velvet rope. It's a barrier that implies, “you must meet certain qualifications before you cross this rope”… and the presence of a velvet rope invariably makes us want to cross to the other side.
Is it time for you to put up your own “velvet rope”?