Turning clients down is one of those freelance writing woes that not everyone wants to do. There’s a fear that you won’t get another chance at getting work, or that one client will be the be all and end all of your writing career.
I want to tell you that definitely isn’t the case. Even a new freelance writer or blogger should consider turning down clients…for the right reasons, of course!
There are plenty of times that I’ve said no, even when I just started out. There are times that I’ve said “not right now” or “come back to me in a few months.”
Here are the main reasons I turn freelance writing clients down, and why you should consider it too.
They don’t pay enough
I always have a minimum that I want to be paid. It’s always a rate per word or per project depending on the scope. I won’t go below that minimum.
Why? Because this is my job. I make a living writing.
There are times that freelance writing clients will try to push to get a lower rate. They may want to get a free article with every five they order or get extra work thrown in without paying extra money. Some just outright say that my rates are too high for their budget, and they want a massive reduction.
I do wonder whether they do this in stores. When I want to buy a new dress, I will either pay the money, ask for the allowed discount in a store (like the student discount), or will decide that it’s not worth it. I’d never go up and ask them to reduce the price by a third or half! The only time I’ve done that is in market places when on vacation in Italy, where bartering was expected.
When potential clients as for such discounts, I give a straight no. If the rate is just lower than the minimum, I may decide that it’s worth a short-term discount. It really depends on the amount that I love the idea of the project. Otherwise, I’ll give the minimum I want to make and leave the ball in their court.
They’ve proven to be PITA clients
I’ve written about PITA clients in the past. When I get one of these, I’ll start saying no to projects. I just don’t have the time or patience to deal with them.
Some have come back to me months later to ask if I’ll work with them again. I’ve always ended up saying no.
They’ve either proven that they don’t pay on time, they ask for ridiculous amount of work afterwards, or they don’t pay enough.
In short, they’re more hassle than they’re worth.
Some don’t take a straight no for an answer, so I’ll charge them my “PITA fee.” This is always an amount that would make a project worthwhile but will be one that the client is unlikely to pay. I also get the money upfront.
I don’t like the project
I enjoy most topics, but there are others that I just have no interest in at all. When this is the case, I’ll turn down projects. What’s the point in me writing something that I absolutely hate?
This can seem picky to some, but it’s also a professional decision. I want writing clients to be proud of the work and to recommend me. If I can’t put my heart into content, then it’s not going to be the best. The clients are more likely to ask for revisions and not recommend me to others they know looking for content.
Turning down projects doesn’t just mean saying an outright no to clients. There are times that clients have a lot of different work available, and that one project has just turned out to be not so fun. I’ll do work for the client in the future.
I’m genuinely not available/can’t do it in time
I can get booked up rather quickly, especially on certain sites that I offer my work. When this is the case, I’ll not have the time or availability to take on a piece of work.
This isn’t an outright no to freelance writing clients, but is a “not right now.” I’ll be polite and say that I don’t have the availability.
There are times that I’ve been offered more for a project to entice me to do it. Again, it’s about the professionalism here. I don’t want to turn in substandard work.
In many cases, I’ll try to find another writer I know who can do the work, especially if I know I won’t be available for quite some time.
They want me to write under a penname
Now, this one depends on the nature of the work.
If a writing client wants me to ghostwrite, then this isn’t a reason for me to say no. The work isn’t mine and I go into an agreement to turn all rights to them upon completion of the project. I have a fee for ghostwriting work that is higher than the fee for a piece with my byline since I can’t use ghostwriting work as samples.
This is a problem when I’m retaining all or some rights to the work. It’s when the idea of the gig is to build my brand.
I’ve recently been asked if I’d mind writing under a penname, so I’ve asked why. The reason was because my work had been on sites that the client was in competition with. She didn’t want my name attached to both sites.
The only reason a site would want me to write under a penname is if they don’t trust somewhere I’ve written in the past or like my work but not some of the comments people have left on articles. They want to step away from my brand, but still get my content.
Isn’t this like ghostwriting? Sort of. But there’s something that felt off about it in this sense.
You know what’s bad? I can’t even remember the site’s name! I wouldn’t be able to tell you who the potential freelance writing client was. The site hasn’t done that well. And nobody has ever asked me to do such a thing since.
Do you say no to current or potential writing clients? What are your reasons for doing it? Sometimes it’s good to say no, so if you’ve not done it yet, you might want to consider it.
Don’t let saying no become one of your freelance writing woes! Do it and feel better…get over the fear!
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