When is it okay to turn away a client?

Sometimes you just can't take on a freelance writing project; either you're too busy, the pay isn't what you'd like to command or you just have that gut feeling that you shouldn't.  In any of these cases, it's okay to tell a client you can't take them on (as long as you do it in a polite, professional manner).

You're too busy
If you know that you can't fill the client's requirements in the time frame they're requesting, you should point the client in the direction of someone who can.  Almost nothing is as unprofessional as missing a deadline, and your clients will appreciate the fact that you recognized your limitations and respect the fact you tried to find them a writer who could fill your shoes.

The pay is too low
Knowing you deserve more than a client is willing to pay is a good reason to turn down freelance writing work.  You may have a set level that you won't go below, or they may be asking you to provide far more than you're willing at your base price.  It's okay to tell a client that you don't work for less than a certain amount, and it's definitely okay to turn them down if they aren't willing to pay what you ask.

When a client asks you to provide more for less, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable rolling up to the Burger King drive-through and asking for ten extra fries and another patty in your combo meal while insisting that you'll only pay for a small combo.  That's silly, isn't it?  So is accepting a client's demands that you provide more writing/research/photos/editing for less money.  Unless you're desperately in need of the business, your standard fees can be concrete!

That "gut feeling"
When something is just off with a client - either your personalities clash, they're unwilling to sign a contract or you just don't feel comfortable working with them - it's okay to turn them down.  This is your business; you can supply your freelance writing skills to those clients you choose to supply and turn away whomever you darned well please.

That same Burger King (the one you asked for ten extra fries, remember?) will toss you out in the street if you walk in acting like a jerk - and if Burger King gets to choose, so do you.

There are many types of clients, and you may not like some of them.  The point is, you can turn down any work for any reason, and it's always okay - so don't beat yourself up if you have to now and then.


Hmmm good point. I think many self employed people, in any profession, are too hard on themselves and take a lot more bull than they should simply because they think 'that's how it is' or that they can't do better...or that somehow because they don't have a big scary company behind them that they cant have rules to protect themselves without compromising or completely ruining the business. Its sad.

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