I know I shouldn't. I completed the work I already agreed to (aside from one client who hasn't sent me the final information for a higher-paying assignment she had in store for me already, that I already agreed to before discussing my inability to continue at my current rate). But the other client sent me a trail of messages that led me to feeling pretty crummy.
"At least complete these assignments. Please."
"You promised." (I didn't, not that it really makes any difference in the long run.)
Petra, I'm trusting you that these feelings of guilt will go away once I start getting better contracts. Lol.
Don't just rely on Petra...
Yes, they will.
And in a couple of years time (if this site can keep itself going that long) you'll be on here recounting that story to an apprehensive newbie.
In general, the cheaper the clients, the more likely they will engage in manipulation, deceit, and abusive behavior—displaying an underlying cynical contempt for the writers they may simultaneously flatter and "befriend." As you succeed in moving upmarket, and getting compensation more worthy of your skills, you will find more knowledgeable, reasonable, and fair clients.
All the best,