When & Why You Should Turn Down A Writing Job
A freelance content writer spends a large part of her day networking, sending emails and following up with past clients, all with the intent of bagging new content writing projects.
Despite such focussed efforts, there are times when a writer must turn down prospective new work. Though it may sound bizarre, saying ‘NO’ sometimes is the most sensible thing to do.
I know how difficult it can be to let go of a writing job when you spend every waking moment building your writing business and establishing yourself as a freelance writer; hoping to get your hands on long-term, high paying new assignments.
However, it is equally important to sieve through the opportunities that come your way and take up those which are right for you, politely saying no to those that are not.
But how does one take a call on whether to accept or turn down a new writing gig?
Much of this clarity comes with experience.
I remember, how, during my early days of freelance writing, I took on projects that were a misfit. Now that I am older and hopefully, a bit wiser I understand how important it is to be able to turn down projects that are not right for me.
So how does one spot a “not-worth-my-time” kind of inquiry? Here are some signs to watch out for –
Outside your Skill-Set / Area of Expertise
This one is relatively easy to judge. Say you a travel writer and specialize in writing travel articles, and travelogues etc.; what if you receive an email from a prospective client whose project involves hardcore technical writing, and excessive research on topics you care nothing about?
If I were you, I would politely turn down the project, rather than struggling with the topic and delivering a sub-standard document.
Client Lays Down the Terms, Leaving NO Scope for Discussion
Occasionally, you may hear from certain headstrong clients who lay down their terms in the very first email. Right from specifying how much they will pay you for the project (which is usually peanuts and an insult to your craft), to making it very clear that they will pay for the content you deliver, only and only if they like it.
Some even demand free sample articles on topics of their choice. More often than not, such clients aren’t open to any discussions or dialogues.
Again, if I were you, I would seriously re-consider taking this any further. Here’s why –
Firstly, I am an independent contractor, running a professional service. I am not their full-time employee and hence, I do not have to agree necessarily with what they lay down as terms and guidelines.
Secondly, since they have written to me with their requirement, they should give me the opportunity to send them a formal proposal.
I firmly believe that the backbone of any successful freelance writing association is clear, open and effective communication and mutual respect (something that’s apparently missing here.)
Client NOT Willing to Provide Background Information
Some customers are unresponsive and do not reply to questions; others are not sure what they want. In either case, it is the content writer who faces flak for not delivering content in tune with the client’s expectations.
If a client does not give you a clear idea of what they need, asks you to research everything (even the topics you should be writing on), or refuses to answer your questions, beware.
Client Does Not REVERT after in-depth Discussions
Such a scenario is far too common. After all the details of the project have been discussed and agreed upon, the client suddenly stops responding. In the absence of a final go-ahead, you end up wasting time waiting for them to revert.
Sometimes, they come back after months of silence; asking for the content to be delivered urgently – a tricky situation to be in, for sure.
Client Negotiates a LOW RATE at the Promise of a Bulk Content Writing Project
This is a more recent yet growing trend that I’ve been noticing a lot these days. Prospective client writes to you asking you for a price quote. When you write back, they tell you that the project is vast with 5000+ words required, and so, you should give them a bulk discounted rate.
Let’s look at this for what it seems to be –
– They do have a large project and would like you to give them a good deal.
– They do not have a large project and simply want to negotiate a low rate at the promise of a large project.
If a client really does plan on giving you that ‘large’ project at the bulk discounted rate you are offering, they should also be willing to make an advance payment for the entire project and not just a small portion of it. Any dilly-dallying on their part should raise warning signals in your head.
Believe me, I’ve been there. More often than not, this is just a tactic to get the lowest possible rate. It saddens me to see how clients spend a fortune on advertising and several other marketing activities but when it comes to content writing, they use bargaining tactics to get the lowest possible rates.
Take a stand; decide for yourself what your writing is worth. Do not sell yourself short. Respect your craft and others will follow suit.
At the end of the day, turning down a writing assignment is not easy. However, if your gut tells you something is amiss, trust those feelings and make a decision that is best for you.
What are your reasons for saying no to a project?
Tell me about it in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!