Saying “no” the right way as a freelancer


Few people realize just how important refusals are for freelancers. But you absolutely have to know when to turn things down that just don’t fit your current situation. Last week we covered the most common situations where you should firmly say “no”, whether it is to clients, projects or to yourself. But the way you decline something is just as important as knowing when to do it.

Saying “no” right can be the difference between keeping the door open for future opportunities and slamming it straight shut. Here are our five ways to refuse work properly as a freelancer:


1) Give an honest explanation
Be straightforward with your clients. Do you have other projects lined up and the deadlines are coming? “I’m committed to other projects right now” is a sentence that any client should be able to understand. Even if the reason is low pay, don’t be afraid to communicate that. Maybe the client didn’t do his or her research and is more than happy to pay your usual fee as long as you propose it. Although it sounds a bit cliché, honesty truly is the best policy when saying “no” as it often helps you work out a mutually beneficial solution.
2) Offer alternative services
Freelancers often get angry, insecure or straight up don’t answer to clients who request services outside of their usual field of work or scope. That can be a big mistake. Think about it: this client found you, decided they want to contact exactly you, but misunderstood what exactly your field of work is. A lot of the work has already been done and there is no reason to throw that out of the window. So explain to them in detail how exactly you can be of service now or in the future.

3) Communicate your schedule
On the topic of timetables, you often get requests during the “feast” period where you have a lot of work and just can’t handle any more. And you should definitely be responsible enough to only take as much work as you can actually finish on time, but that doesn’t mean additional requests should be ignored. When looking for a freelancer, a good amount of clients actually have a generous period of time frame for the project. Always tell them when exactly you will be free. It’s as simple as saying: “I`m working on X and Y right now and don’t have a lot of free time on my hands, but would love to work with you from the 31.03”. 

4) Refer a colleague
If the project is urgent, out of your scope or you’re not able to work on it for some other reason, setting up your client with another freelancer is a great way to establish trust. It shows you care about the project, have a good network and are a cooperative person. The other freelancer will definitely remember that one time you helped them out and are very likely to give back. It’s a win-win-win situation, really.

5) Remain polite and professional
Last but not least, never forget to turn down offers politely. Think about the difference of a client never answering when you apply for a project and someone explaining why you weren’t the one that got picked. The difference can be huge when deciding whether or not to work with them in the future. Clients feel the same way. Even if you dislike the project or you can’t take it, mind your manners. Potentially losing future opportunities because you were too lazy to type out complete and polite sentences is not worth it.

How do you say “no”? Let us know in the comment section below, we’re always happy to hear from our readers!


Pic: © Unsplash_Pixabay
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