Sometimes we have to say ‘no’ to our freelance writing clients. I was reminded of this when I read On Shaky Ground by Lori Widmer. She’s a true professional freelance writer and if she says a client is causing nightmares with endless revisions I know she’s being totally realistic.
Unfortunately, it happens to all of us from time-to-time. We end up with clients who ask, one way or another, the impossible.
Not surprisingly, I’ve written about this before. I Don’t Want These Clients! will give you some idea of what I consider to be impossible clients for this freelance writer.
As you begin to work with writing clients there are several places and ways to so ‘no.’
Say ‘No’ To The Whole Writing Project
The first, turning down a writing project, is probably the most scary, particularly for the beginning freelancer. There’s this sense that you need each and every client and that if you turn one down you may never find a replacement.
Not true. In a very real way when you turn one client away, especially for good reasons, it seems to open up space for another – one you can do a good job for.
There are lots of reasons you might want to say no, including: low pay, unreasonable deadline, wants a kind of writing you don’t know how to do and aren’t interested in learning, or writing that for whatever reason you personally find objectionable.
The truth is if you take on any of these projects you probably won’t do a good job because you’ll be full of either resentment or fear. Far better than you pass on those that don’t fit.
Say ‘No’ To A Special Request
Sometimes freelance writing clients will ask the impossible. Usually this shows up as a special emergency request of some sort. It may be they want a major revision turned around in way less time than you know it will take to do it well. Or they may ask you to put together a piece of writing that’s not part of your current contract – often a sales letter or other promotional piece, and they want it in 24 hours.
Often the client doesn’t understand what they are asking. They don’t understand the writing process and you’ve probably made it look easy.
A simple ‘no’ followed with a brief but reasonable explanation of why you can’t get it done in that length of time or because it’s not part of the original contract, goes a long way toward reducing their demanding expectations.
Again, the fear may be that you’ll lose the client. If they are at all reasonable, you won’t. And if they are not reasonable, perhaps letting them go entirely will be a good thing.
Many times, however, the best action is to negotiate with the client. For example:
- If the pay offered is low, counter with a higher number. Make it close to your usual rate – they might say ‘yes.’
- If the deadline is unreasonable specify what would be a reasonable length of time. They may accept that. Implicit in your job is educating your clients.
- If the deadline is unreasonable, agree to do it but with a hefty surcharge – such a suggestion may bring some reality to the situation or fatten your bank account.
For me, negotiation is about two people getting what they want – me and the client.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu