A bit more than a year ago, I agreed to do freelance work for a client. There were no contracts or anything, it was on a friendly basis.
The client gave me a lot of tasks and I always gave him high quality work. The price we agreed on didn't match what's happening in the market so after 3 months of our cooperation, I delivered a task and said that we have to raise the price.
The client kept bargaining and the end result was 10% raise which was nothing since the original price was low (my mistake). I decided that I will look for a job and quit freelancing for people.

I did and now I'm busy with my job so I thought that it is high time to quit the time consuming, low paying job and focus on growing in my time consuming, high paying job.
So I told the client that I'm going to stop freelancing for him. That was in the middle of a long project. I can't continue the project, it is something that I simply can't get myself to do anymore plus I'm too busy with my current job.
Also, the client is extremely flexible with time so leaving this way is not a big deal. However, I tried to be as professional as possible and told him that I will try my best to get a replacement. This proved very hard to do because he wants someone as good as I am and with the same low rates I accepted.
Anyway, I approached two of my trusted friends who provide the same service and they refused. I tried to put an ad on a FB page, but it wasn't successful.
I told him all of this, but he is not happy with all of that and holds me responsible for everything (+he is being rude).

My question is:
Is finding a replacement a favor or a duty?

Edit: just to put it in a more general way, is finding a replacement a favor from or a duty of a freelancer (with no contract)?

Note: Working together this long made us friends, and I'm trying not to break this bond.

  • 9
    It is a favor. Like everything you did is a favor to him. He got so much bang for his buck. It will be hard for him, but he will have to stop sobbing and face the reality: you get what you pay for.
    – Alexander
    Dec 22, 2014 at 11:49
  • 2
    I might suggest that discussing rates in detail with the friends may not have been the best approach. Introduce them and let them make their own deal (but I'd warn them in general terms if the rates were low so they didn't waste time preparing detailed proposals that would get rejected out of hand- the relationship with them may be more important in the long term). Dec 22, 2014 at 12:01
  • Alexander thank you @SpehroPethany I didn't get to discuss prices with my friends, they refused right away because they are super busy with their work.
    – Freelancer
    Dec 22, 2014 at 12:08
  • 4
    If you get paid, it's a duty. If you don't get paid, it's a favour.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 22, 2014 at 14:10

4 Answers 4


I don't think you are obligated to find someone, but since this is a friendship as much as it is a business relationship, making an effort isn't a bad idea. Your client friend needs to understand that unless he has another friend that is as good as you, the price is going to go up.

The client may need to realize this is a penny-wise/pound-foolish situation. With a little more money, he should realize he may have been able to keep you. This turn-over is going to set him back.

It just seems like at these rates, he may have to look for someone with a lot less experience. You talked to a few of your contacts, but it is clear your client-friend is asking for too much. Being open and honest about this fact is the best thing you can do for him.

  • When I told him I'm not going to continue. He offered to raise the rates. He is even willing to give me the same price I asked for 7 months ago. The problem is I get paid much higher than he can give now. When I asked him what rates should I tell my friends when I approach them for this job, he said to tell them the same old rates I had after the 10% raise. He just doesn't learn. When my friends refused (even before they know about the money), he told me to find someone who will take the rates I asked for 7 months ago! I think I might have to reconsider this friendship.
    – Freelancer
    Dec 22, 2014 at 16:17
  • Ah, one more thing, in the course of our conversations, I discovered that before starting working with me, he had another one who received the rates I asked for and he was happy with it. He denied me my money with no stings of conscience.
    – Freelancer
    Dec 22, 2014 at 16:21
  • Can a client really become a friend anyway? I've seen "friendships" that were based on money. It's useless investing in them.
    – Formagella
    Dec 22, 2014 at 18:34
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    @Formagella I'm learning this the hard way. I guess he was just nice and friendly because he needed me to continue working hard with the same low rates.
    – Freelancer
    Dec 23, 2014 at 9:38
  • Some people are just going to make it about the money. It is a game for them and this is how they think they should play it. Your friend is only seeing his profit and loss and isn't considering how much better the product will be with a better programmer. Maybe he just has a flawed business model.
    – user8365
    Dec 23, 2014 at 12:24

My question is: Is finding a replacement a favor or a duty?

Generally, finding a replacement when you leave a gig (freelance or otherwise) is a favor. Since you don't have a contract, you are not contractually obligated to do so.

On the other hand, you may have implied that it is a duty ("However, I tried to be as professional as possible and told him that I will try my best to get a replacement") and set an expectation with your client.

It's not clear that it really matters much here either way. If you want to stay friends, and on best terms with this client, try to discuss how much longer you can seek a replacement, and come up with a course of action should you fail to do so within the deadline.

If it's not as important to stay on best terms just try your best, then stop if you are not successful.


I think you've attempted to go above and beyond, and that's more than what was expected of you.

You had to leave for higher paying work, you tried to find a replacement, really it's his responsibility to source candidates and recruit them, not yours.

And if he's not prepared for someone to leave... he needs to be writing better contracts that reduce his risk of this happening on such short notice for something important.

As far as whether you should be putting in more effort for this 'friend'.... A friend would be willing to pay you more, honestly. And demanding that you accept below market rates or find someone else that can is really this person being rude and taking advantage of you.

He's not going to find a solution (very likely nor are you) for this service at this rate, as it's below market. If he doesn't raise his rates, he'll be challenged with the same problem in the near future.

To summarize - I think you should accept that you've 'failed' (don't read this negatively) in your attempt to find a replacement for this position, which wasn't your responsibility in the first place. He will need to continue that search on his own. You should move on to the work that actually takes care of you, as you have more pressing responsibilities there.

This sort of thing happens.... You're going to have to just move forward and accept that this could turn this relationship sour, but that it's happening because of this person's unreasonable demands on you.


If it's in the middle of a project, it's a duty. If it's after the project is done, and time for a new project, it's a favor.

  • What's with the downvote? I answered the direct question that was asked. Just because you don't agree with the answer doesn't mean I didn't directly answer the question. Dec 9, 2018 at 20:16
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    I didn't downvote, but unless it's in his contract that he either finishes the project, or finds someone who will, it's not his responsibility. Dec 9, 2018 at 21:53

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