Sometimes you just have to say "no." In business, it can be especially important. As your freelance writing business grows, you will undoubtedly encounter situations where saying "no" to your client is the best thing.
You can't do it all
Even if you are a generalist, a freelance writer who routinely handles a variety of different writing assignments (e.g. web copy, press releases, feature articles, etc.), there are some areas of writing you might prefer to pass on.
It's tempting to take on every assignment a client throws at you, but not always the wisest choice. Those dollar signs can be blinding. Sometimes its best to be honest and let your client know that a certain assignment is not within your area of expertise. Then you can offer to refer them to another writer better equipped to handle it. Doing so could boost your credibility significantly in their eyes. You become a viable resource they can trust.
Medical writing, business and finance topics and technical writing are just a few examples of writing services that require specialization.
You're all booked up
Don't you just love it when you're completely swamped with work? Well, sometimes it can become overwhelming, but it's a lot better going through the feast than dealing with famine. Of course these are also the times when every client you've ever worked with (along with a couple of new ones) comes out of the woodwork needing your skills.
When your plate is overflowing and you still try to take on more work, you run the risk of delivering a final product that is subpar. You not only risk disappointing your client, and possibly losing them, you're also risking your reputation. Learn to access the amount of work you can handle at one time. When clients continue approaching you, offer to do the work at a later date. If the client can't wait, have one or two trusted writers you can refer them to instead.
Am I giving away my clients?
Some writers balk at this worrying that by sending clients to someone else they will end up losing them. Actually, I hear more writers saying that their clients come back to them appreciating the fact that you had their best interest at heart enough to make sure their project got done correctly. You become a trusted resource that they return to knowing that you won't steer them wrong.
Setting up alliances with other freelance writers means that when they're busy they will occasionally send clients your way as well. This is a good way to build credibility with your clients and fellow freelancers, so why not?