When to say no to freelance jobs

Having a freelancing career is not about accepting every job that comes your way. Know when to say no.

September 21, 2018

It's important to know when to say no to freelance jobs. Having a freelancing career is not about accepting every job that comes your way, good or bad. Rather, it’s about thinking strategically about what makes sense for you to ensure a long-term and sustainable career. Sometimes, you have to say no to freelance jobs. It’s about finding that balance between what satisfies your personal finances and what satisfies you as a person. Therefore, you should always evaluate what jobs deserves your time and attention.

In this blogpost, we give you our best advice on when you should think twice about doing a particular job. We’ll also give you our advice on how to say no, while still maintaining a good relationship with the company.

When you’re already too busy with another job

It’s flattering to get a job offer and it can be hard to say no. But if you already have too much on your plate, you shouldn’t commit to another job. Nothing good rarely comes from being too busy. The result is that you might only put 50% of your effort into each assignment, which hurts the client’s perception of your competencies. As a rule of thumb, when you feel like you would compromise the quality of your work, you shouldn’t commit to another job. It’s in your own best interest (and the client’s) to politely say no to the freelance job, and then inform them when you’re available for hire again in the future.

When the pay doesn’t meet your market price

Pay varies a lot depending on level of experience, education, industry, and qualifications. Know your worth. If you don’t know exactly how much to charge, compare yourself to others in your field with the same level of experience and find the benchmark. You’re right in asking to be paid for your worth. However, once in a while you’re going to be asked to do a job for a client with a small budget. That doesn’t mean you need to get underpaid. Instead, you might be better off accepting that you’re just not a good fit for that particular client.

When you have no desire to actually do the job

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones hired to watch and rate movies for Netflix, no job is fun all the time. But your job should be fun most of the time. As a freelancer, you actually have the freedom to choose what you want to work on. You decide what’s worth your time, what skills you want to hone, and what industries or companies you’re interested in. It’s okay to decline the offer, if the assignment seems like it requires competencies that are way below your level of experience. It’s okay to decline the offer, if the client seems like they’d be difficult to work with. It’s also okay to decline the offer, if the assignment seems completely boring. Don’t feel pressured to accept assignments that make you groan. Do what you’re passionate about and develop your skills, by doing exciting work.

How to say no to freelance jobs, while maintaining a good relationship to the client

Okay, so now we’ve established the situations for when it’s perfectly fine to say no to freelance jobs. But how do you actually pass on that opportunity without burning any bridges?

We have a few tips for you:

Show that you’re thankful for the opportunity
  • Even though you’re not accepting the job offer, you should always say thanks for the opportunity. After all, the client has shown you that they value your competencies and knowledge within your field. Remember to always decline respectfully, tell the client you think the project sounds interesting, and wish them the best of luck. 
Provide a professional reason
  • You don’t have to go into too many details, but provide a valid and professional reason for why you’re not going to say yes to the offer. Don’t ever say you think it sounds boring. Provide a valid excuse. It’s always valid to say you’re too busy at the moment, because you’re working on another project.
Let them know when you’re available again (if you’re interested in being contacted again)
  • If you’re actually interested in the company or in the project, but you’re too busy at the moment, let them know when you’re available for hire again. Ask them to contact you at some later point in time, granted you're interested in taking on freelance jobs at that particular company some later point in time.

Do you want more good advice? Read Worksomes 8 best tips for a successful freelancing career.

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