As someone who’s only been freelancing full-time for a month and a half(can you believe that!?) it’s easy for me to say “yes” to every project that comes my way because of the uncertainty of income and not knowing if I’ll get clients in the door a week or even a month out. One of my goals recently is to filter out the clients I don’t feel are right for me and only say yes to clients who I know I’ll enjoy working with. It’s been a hard lesson but I figure, this is my business I should have control over what I want to work on, right? There’s been so many instances where I’ve been chatting with fellow business owners and saying things like “ooooh I don’t know if I can do that” or “can I do that!?” in terms of saying no to phone calls, no to client inquiries that seem strange and no to projects that aren’t fun. My friends have had to remind me that this is my business and of course I can do all of those things! It’s a hard lesson for sure because I am such a people pleaser but I’ve been realizing that if I want to love working for myself I need to make decisions that will keep my job enjoyable.
I think it’s important as a designer communicating with clients to acknowledge any red flags that come up in conversation. Are they answering all of your questions? Are they being really vague? Are they saying things like “it’s just a simple change” when in actuality it may take hours of time? Are they valuing you as a designer and trusting that you’re the expert in what you do? These are just some of the red flags I’ve started to take note of and if any of them pop up in conversation I immediately question whether they’re the right client for me. Trusting your gut and acknowledging those red flags are so important and will help in saving face later down the road.
So this week I’ve said no to some project inquiries that I didn’t feel were right for me and instead of feeling bad about it(I did at first!) I actually felt really empowered and like I’m finally calling the right shots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking for granted the client inquiries I’m receiving but I didn’t leave a job I was unhappy at to go and do another job that would make me feel unhappy about, too. So hopefully this can help anyone else out there that may be dealing with a client that’s making your job less than enjoyable. And saying no doesn’t need to be rude, you can just be straight forward and let them know you don’t feel you’re the right person for their project, easy as that. I also refer them to other designers who may be more suited for them. That makes it burn a little less. So learn to say no, trust your gut and don’t ignore those red flags. 🙂