Turning Down Freelance Work

There will come a time when you may consider turning down work. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Under certain circumstances, it might be a good idea. In other situations, rejecting work can be a big mistake.

It is a good idea to turn down and assignment if:

-the pay is too low (less than a penny per word/lower than minimum wage per hour)

-the client is new and you are overwhelmingly busy

-the expectations are unrealistic (example: I need 50 well researched pages of content in the next two hours.)

-you suspect that they won’t be able to pay you (“We are a start-up company, so we have a really tight budget.”)

-the requirements are out of your skill set

You may want to take the job if:

-you are busy, but this client buys your work occasionally or on a regular basis (Repeat business can sustain you in tough times, so make yourself available when faithful clients need you.)

-the work can be outsourced (the assignment is easy to understand and explain, as well as paid at a higher rate than someone else would charge)

-things are slow and the pay is lower than you usually charge (Don’t accept pittance, but be willing to work with the client’s budget.)

-you have limited experience with the main skill required, but you are confident in your ability to learn quickly

Ultimately, you don’t have to take every assignment that comes along. That is the freedom of working for yourself. I am rather particular about what freelance work I will take, but I don’t turn down opportunities that will benefit me in the long run.

I have hired freelancers for ongoing work before and some of them have made the mistake of telling me at some point that they are too busy, but they hope to work with me in the future. To me, that shows in both a positive and a negative light. On the one hand, they must be a quality provider if so many other people are buying their work. On the other hand, I think it is poor business management and poor time management if a freelancer can’t handle one extra assignment from a faithful client.

Don’t get me wrong, I am understanding if things come up or if the freelancer can’t make a tight deadline. If they aren’t confident that they can do a good job with a certain subject or type of work, it is probably wise not to take the assignment. It is just a turn off when it seems that they simply don’t know what to do when things get busy.

What do you think about turning down freelance work?

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Excellent post — nothing I would specifically add to either list.

    I think freelancers should develop a list of their requirements to take a job. That way they can quickly decide on a project.

    The main reasons I turn down jobs in my freelance writing field:
    1. Pay is too low.
    2. I’m too busy with other projects.

    That said, I sometimes take a low-paying project when I’m busy if it’s a new client I want to build a relationship with.


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