One of the best places to be as a freelance writer is to be able to say ‘no’. Sounds surprising, right? Don’t you want to be able to yes, yes, yes?! To all the assignments, all the money making opportunities, all the things you want to do! But, at some point, you have to learn to say ‘no’. That might be difficult or even impossible when you are first start out, mostly due to income limitations. But the best part comes when you are SO busy, having SO many assignments, making SO much money, that you have to prioritize your clients, rearrange your schedule and realize that saying ‘no’ to a client means saying ‘yes’ to a better life, better clients and more money.
For me recently, one of the clients that I have been working with has become…difficult. Whether it be a difficult assignment or lack of communication, all of that came in to play for some recent work that I had to do. It was crazy stuff and of course my feelings during it were negative and left a pit in my stomach.
But what was interesting was that even before I started that current assignment for that client, I was analyzing my different clients and realized that this particular client was at the bottom of my list. Not in terms of pay (they paid very well and mostly on time), but in terms of the difficulty levels. As I said, the assignments would seem simple but then it would turn complicated, or my client was unclear on all the critical details of the assignment, or, in general, just trying to connect with my client was difficult.
This time around, I ended up having to email my client about, well, the actual point/angle of the assignment (I was just told was to write a piece on this one person, but nothing, not even word count, beyond that). I tried texting, nothing. Left a phone message, until finally I caught my client on the phone and was able to get some of the details I needed. But the assignment was an insane headache to work on, and I actually had to email my client several times once I submitted my assignment, because they were not answering me.
Finally, after all that, I heard from my client, offering me more assignments. Actually, they were assignments where the pay had been cut (so my client did not even have the benefit of paying well to cover them), and would involve trying to contact multiple people (my other assignment had one person and that was insanely difficult to accomplish). So as I was looking over the email from my client, I was mentally saying ‘no’. And guess what? I emailed them and said ‘no’ as well.
It was a bit scary because at that point I was trying to save up money, but I knew that these articles would prove to be such a pain that I would not be able to get my other client’s works done, nor would I be able to work on my business, an equally critical aspect to my current work. I felt peace about my stomach and have never felt any regret about my decision.
So, when you are looking to say ‘no’ to a client, here’s what to think about:
- How difficult is the assignment? Is it beyond the scope of time you can devote to it right now? What will you have to give up doing to put your focus on this assignment?
- How difficult is the client? Is this client hard to communicate with? Are they super demanding? Do you cringe when you see an email or text from them? Or do you just wish they would answer your emails or call you back in the first place?
- What are the financial aspects? Sometimes, no matter how well things pay, it’s not worth the effort.
I hope that these questions will help you to get to the point where you can say ‘no’ when you need to, and hopefully grow your freelance business.