When Should You Turn Down a Freelance Writing Assignment?

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As a new freelance writer, turning down work can feel scary. You may feel pressured to take every job that comes your way. After all, you may be unsure about where the next assignment will come from. However, experienced freelancers will tell you that knowing what jobs not to take is just as important as packing your schedule with assignments. Being picky about your work and setting some basic standards for what you will and won’t accept as a writer can help you increase your income while avoiding unnecessary stress. When should you say no to a freelance writing assignment? These are some signs that you should let a potential client look elsewhere.

You are already stretched thin.

Sometimes, the assignment is fine but your schedule isn’t. When you already have a lot of freelance writing assignments on your plate, taking another one just so you don’t have to say no could actually hurt your chances of getting future work. If you aren’t realistic about your schedule, you may end up missing deadlines or not doing your best work. This could cause clients who hire you to look for a new writer in the future. If you are offered a project you want but don’t have time to take, thank the client for his or her interest. Let the client know how much you hope he or she will keep you in mind for future work.

The client is offering low pay or wants free work.

When you first get started as a freelancer, you may decide to take some jobs that don’t pay what you would hope. This can help you get experience and build up your portfolio. When you have some work behind you, however, it’s important to transition towards asking for a fair rate for your work. The definition of a fair rate varies depending on the kind of writing you’re doing and your experience. Don’t take assignments with rates that make you uncomfortable. Charging more and sticking to it will help you get better clients. Similarly, if a client wants you to write a piece for free as a “trial,” it’s usually best to say no and move on. Sometimes, people get freelance writers to do this and then run with their free piece without hiring the writer for paid work.

You don’t like the assignment.

It’s true that being selective about the topics you write about is a luxury that many new writers can’t afford. However, as you progress in your career, taking assignments that you can feel excited about will help you do better work and be happier with your choice of profession. You should never take any assignment where you’ll be writing about topics that make you uncomfortable. As your career grows, try to focus on finding freelance writing work that you’re passionate about.

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