Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Okay to Just Say "No"

The first time I turned down a project, it felt really weird. I’ve written about this experience in a previous entry. Long story short: the client was extremely demanding, didn’t want to deal with service agreements and was constantly trying to nickel and dime me at every turn.

Fast forward to today; I’ve worked with enough clients to know that I most definitely made the right decision that day. Now I understand that the relationship between freelancers and client is just as complex as any other relationship. Sometimes there’s chemistry. Sometimes there’s not. Sometimes your personalities and approaches to working on a project are complementary. Sometimes they’re not.

In the past when I’d find myself in a difficult working situation (not too often, thankfully), I would resign myself to just grin and bear it thinking that’s just good customer service. Besides, who was I to turn away a paying gig?

It took another more seasoned freelancer to help me see the light. She explained that just because I’m a freelancer doesn’t mean every client, or project, is going to be a perfect fit. Freelancing means you have the freedom to do things like decide who you work with and who’s best to be avoided like bubonic plague. She assured me that with time I’d learn to recognize the signs of projects I should avoid early on – and she was right.

It chose to freelance because I wanted freedom and control over the way I worked. It wouldn’t make much sense for me to spend my career working on projects that make me miserable.
So how do I know when to turn down a project?

  • When a prospect keeps trying to convince me to lower my rate.
  • When there are too many decision makers working on the project.
  • When it’s too difficult to get the information I need to do my job.
  • When the scope of a project keeps changing.
  • When a client has a problem signing an agreement.
  • When there’s a personality conflict.
  • When I have so much on my plate that I know that I won't be able to give a project 100%.
What would make you turn down a potential project?


Lisa Vella said...

Certainly great advice!

Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks, Lisa. :)

Lori said...

All of the above. I have to add when the project doesn't fit. Sometimes the person is lovely, the price is right, but the project has too many legs.

Kimberly Ben said...

Here, here! You're right about that, Lori. When I first started freelancing I just assumed that any project that involved writing was right for me. Well we all know what they say about assuming...

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