How to Say No To Taking on New Client Work
Freelancer feast or famine is very real, but on the bright side, there are so many freelance opportunities to pursue that you could very well reach your maximum client work threshold in no time.
This is a nice situation to be in because you’ll have to say no to extra work and opportunities instead of sending pitches out and hoping that you’ll land new gigs.
You may be thinking, why would a freelancer want to say no to new opportunities? For one, freelancers can’t work 24/7. There’s only a fixed amount of hours in the day which limits how much work can be taken on and freelancers want to have a life too and do other things which makes saying no a necessity in some cases.
However, if you’re like me you have a hard time saying no to people and it can seem to get you in quite a bit of trouble. Here are three simple ways to say no to new opportunities once you have a full client roster.
1. Recommend Someone Else
This is one of my favorite techniques to use when I have to say no to a potential client. If you have a network of other freelancers in your niche, it’s a great idea to help someone out by referring them to the client instead.
That way, the client has someone to consider since you can’t take on the work, and the person in your network has a new lead. It’s a win-win situation and communicates to the potential client that even though you can’t help them right now, you still care about their needs and want to help out.
2. Be Straightforward
If you’ve assessed an opportunity in detail and realize you don’t have the bandwidth to accept it, be honest and say no quickly so you don’t leave the other person hanging.
Always be sure to give a solid reason as to why you’ve said no so lines of communication are clear and the person on the receiving end doesn’t have to assume anything.
You can say something like:
“Thank you so much for offering me this opportunity. Unfortunately, I am no longer accepting new clients as my schedule is full. I take pride in my work and would not like to spread myself too thin and start offering less value to my clients.”
As you can see, this example clearly states that you can’t take on the work and exactly why. It’s an honest and respectable reason and communicates that your decision is best for both sides for the time being.
3. Say No to Option A, But Create an Option B
So let’s say you get a request from a client you’re actually interested in working with but just don’t have the time to fulfill their requests. If the client really wants to work with you, they might be willing to be a little flexible.
If what they’re asking you to do would make your workload too heavy, say no to that particular task, but offer to help with something smaller or let them know that you can accept their offer by a certain date.
If most of your work is done by the project, you’ll be needing new clients and assignments when certain contracts end. If you’ll be wrapping up an assignment in 4 weeks, for example, you can line up another opportunity to start right after instead of making no your final answer.
If this is the response you choose, you’ll actually need to deliver on your promise and complete your portion of the work when it’s time. So if you have no intentions of working with the client, don’t offer an alternative option.
Summary: Say No When It’s Necessary and With No Regrets
Saying no doesn’t come easily to most people, especially if you are a people pleaser and don’t like to let others down. You have to realize that you can’t do everything and if you try, you’ll still be letting someone down whether it’s your clients or yourself because your quality and attention to detail will plummet.
Saying no is a handy skill to have as it could prevent you from stressing out with an unmanageable workload and suffering from serious burnout.