I’m a yes man. I always have been and I probably always will be but there are a few occasions I make exceptions for and freelancing is one of them.
Saying ‘no’ is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to do since I went freelance a little over a year ago. That has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not used to doing it but I’ve also battled with thinking it was something that’s counterintuitive to business. Potentially turning down work when you’re just starting sounds like a crazy idea on the surface
When a client just isn’t for you
Some of them won’t be, it’s as simple as that. This is a complicated thing to figure out because lots of them seem like the right kind of client when you first start working with them. It’s only after the delayed invoices, ignored emails and 10,000 changes that you come to realise maybe you’re just not the freelancer for them and your visions don’t quite align. That’s fine. They’ll find a better fit and so will you.
When the work doesn’t excite you
I’ve touched on this briefly before but when I first starting freelancing, I’d take on any work that was given to me. I was writing about technical subject areas I had no idea or interest in whatsoever and it killed my love of writing pretty instantaneously. Now, if I know it’s not something I’ll enjoy, I don’t take it on.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s impossible to feel passionate about every subject and every task that might come your way but equally, it shouldn’t be something you point blank hate. Whenever I’m having a quiet month, I remind myself that I’d rather have a few clients/ projects that I truly love working on than a bunch that I don’t.
When it’s not your job
I feel as freelancers that we often get lumped into one category. There’s very little difference between writers, graphic designers, marketers etc. for a lot of people and with that comes the request to take on the responsibilities of theseroles.
As a copywriter, yes I can write your web copy but no I can’t design your logo. There might be times when you’re skilled in a little bit of all three but when you’re being paid to do one, it’s important not to be taken advantage of.
It helps to have a network of other creatives you can put people in touch with on this one. Saying no is a lot less daunting when you’re offering someone an alternative.
When the deadline is unrealistic
This is a tough one because technically speaking, more often than not, working until the early hours of the morning means I COULD
The interesting thing is, every single time I’ve said no, it’s been met with a very understanding response. We’re all human and there are only so many hours in the day after all.
I definitely don’t have it all figured out. I’m a worrier as well as a yes man so saying no fills me with anxiety more often than not but I’m making progress and hope that if you’re wanting to do the same, you found this helpful.