In part 1, I talked about what I call the Control Freak Streak in freelancers – the desire to control our careers that can leave us trying to do everything without assistance, no matter how time-consuming, time wasting and stressful that is.
And that’s closely related to another problem – saying yes to every project we’re offered.
Fail 2: Being Too Scared To Say No
The first act of some deprived children, when first transported into a world where food and drink is freely available, is to take as much as they can and hide it away. This isn’t because they’re ‘bad’ people; it’s because behaving like this has been the only way they can survive.
I mention this because some freelancers exhibit this same desperation too. Even if those first frantic days of freelancing are well behind them and they’re charging a reasonable rate for work they find satisfactory, the temptation to say yes to any work they’re offered can be overpowering, no matter how badly-paid or mind-numbingly boring it may be.
It’s work! Work isn’t always there! Sometimes it disappears! It may only pay £8 an hour, but at least it’s MONEY, their brains scream at them. (Yes, this used to be me. I got over it).
But you have your reputation to consider, not to mention your mindset, and the hours you’re about to spend proof-reading the badly-written World’s 100 Most Unremarkable Plumbing Failures could be hours spent working on something far more enjoyable – for a far higher return. Plus, low-paid difficult and/or boring work can be very demoralising. Remember, you’re working to live, not living to work.
Sometimes, we also have a fear of letting a client down, particularly if they’re long-standing and we’ve built up a warm working relationship. If we say no to them, will they ever offer us work again?
How to Avoid Fail 2:
Honestly evaluate your own worth and set a reasonable minimum rate for each service you offer. A little market research will tell if you’re in the right ballpark, but don’t forget to factor in your experience, or your location and its associated cost of living, when you compare your rates to those of others.
If the client is the one setting the price (not recommended), then go back with your own suggestion; politely but firmly explain that this is your rate, so if they are unable to match it, regretfully, you’ll have to decline. Yes, it does feel pushy and counter-intuitive. Yes, it is perfectly professional – and doesn’t need to be confrontational if you remember your manners.
And Yes, it does get easier!
Nobody wants to offend a client, but do consider whether there’s been any indication that they can offer you regular and/or well-paid work. Sometimes, as our career progresses, we outgrow certain clients; the work they can offer us just doesn’t match our level of experience, expertise or pay expectations any more. Remain polite, but explain that your business is growing and that you can’t afford to turn down the more lucrative work being offered to you. They’ll either fade away or find better-paid work for you (or maybe, just maybe, offer you more money for the work you’re already doing, just to keep you on).
As for the appeal of the work: deep down, you know what parts of your work you enjoy and which you’re less keen on. Although necessity may mean that sometimes you have to raise or lower the bar, try to focus your efforts on those projects that don’t make you dread the workday ahead.
And guess what – even if the work you’re offered is well paid and appealing, there are still times you should say no. All will be revealed in Fatal Freelancing Fails – Part 3!
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