Why I Don’t Say Yes to Every Project

I don't say yes to every project because if I'm not passionate about it then I'm doing myself and the client a disservice.

Some freelancers say yes to every project that comes their way. Different people have different reasons, but it often comes down to:

  • Not wanting to turn down money.
  • Not liking the feeling of turning people away.

But I don’t say yes to every project, and here’s why:

The passion isn’t always there.

Not every project excites me. That’s not something I can help, so I’m not ashamed to admit it.

If the idea of a project incites dread, then there are two good reasons not to take it:

  1. I’m doing myself a disservice by setting myself up for stress and unhappiness.
  2. I’m doing the client a disservice by robbing them of the chance to find someone who is passionate about their project.

Surely the client would rather wait and find someone who is THRILLED at the idea of working with them? I owe it to them to let them have that chance.

Am I really the best person to be doing this?

There may come a time when you’re asked to do something you don’t even know how to do. Or even if you do know, you’re not an expert in that field and someone else would be much better suited to work on it than you.

Again, this is where I usually put the client first. If I don’t feel I’m the best person for the job, then I’ll recommend someone else instead.

For example: sometimes I get people asking me to help customize their Genesis child theme. Could I do it? Sure, I could figure it out. But I don’t particularly like Genesis, and as a result, I don’t know the platform inside and out. It would take me longer to backtrace all the actions and filters I need to use. The client would be much better off if I passed them off to someone who specializes in Genesis. The project would get done a lot faster and more efficiently.

You have the right to pick and choose projects you truly love and will deliver on.

Don’t feel bad about disappointing the would-be client. Sure, maybe saying no sucks a little. But ultimately you’re doing them a favour by giving them the opportunity to work with the best person possible for the job.

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. As a writer who’s been working as a freelancer close to four years, this took me a while to understand. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way 🙂

  2. Yes! I could have quit my day job multiple times by now if I wasn’t so picky with clients. But I think it’s even more important for part-time freelancers to pick and choose. For us, it’s not just choosing between a meh client and a dream one, it’s also choosing between client work and your free time, seeing friends, or sleep. (And let’s be real, you’re gonna give up sleep before Netflix or Sunday bottomless brunches.)

    So many people say that the best way to go from side hustler to full-time is to “take on any opportunity you can.” To me, that just seems like a great way to burn out and begin to hate freelancing. Womp womp womp.

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