Knowing when to say no and how to say no can help you keep your sanity and often the writing gig.
Here are my favorite five times to say no, and not even start, or, in some cases, try to turn the situation around.
When the ad demands fresh samples “to be sure you can meet our needs.’ This is often a thinly disguised scam to get free content. While there certainly can be times to write for free or even give a sample, to send them off blind to an unknown advertiser is asking for trouble. Usually there’s not much point in responding to these ads. If for some reason you want to, do so with a link to your writing resume.
A demand you be available via Skype, IM or phone eight hours a day. I’ve never understood why a client thinks they need constant access to me during working hours. But I’ve seen a sizable number of ads where that or something similar is a requirement. Unless I’m being paid and paid well for all of those hours, I’ll have nothing to do with it. I respond to email and phone calls. I can be coaxed to do some instant messaging, but rarely – there’s nothing I’m doing for clients that requires instant access to me except the client’s need for control. I don’t need that.
Any situation that counts my keystrokes or watches me in any fashion. At least one outfit that gets contractors, including writers, find gigs, brags that the client can “Watch the work as it happens.” It’s Odesk and they tout the ability to hook up to your computer so the client can “track” what you’re doing. I find that an appalling invasion of privacy and a total negation of what freelancing is all about. Just say no. While I do understand that clients new to hiring freelancers may be concerned that I will do what I say, I have my credits online and will, when asked, provide references.
Rush jobs without premium fees. When a client calls and tells me they need whatever by the end of the day or other deadline that requires me to drop everything else and work on their stuff, I either say “no, I can’t get it done in that time,” and give them a more reasonable time frame, or, I double my fee. Okay, maybe I won’t double it, but you get the idea. You deserve to be paid when you have to write to an “emergency” tight deadline.
A major change in direction without compensation. Sometimes a client will ask for a major change when you’ve already done a significant amount of work. While it’s understandable that things change, it’s unreasonable to ask a writer to make major changes without compensating them for the changes asked for. How much extra you should charge is probably best based on an hourly rate and should be negotiated at the time the request is made.
Remember, you’re in business for yourself. That means it’s up to you not to let yourself be exploited. It’s always your choice. Make it a good one for you.
What’s your take on this? When do you say no to a client? When have you wished you said no? Let’s talk about it in comments.
Write well and often,
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