I can’t stress this enough…you need to learn to say NO.
The life of having to always be up for anything, ended as soon as you walked away from that 9-5! You literally don’t have to answer or be questioned by anyone if you don’t want to—that’s the freedom of being your own boss. I know it’s hard to say no because you want to please everyone, you need to think of yourself as well. You would be doing yourself & your clients a disservice by taking on too much work, or work you don’t enjoy.
The importance of saying no can mean:
1. Avoid burnout
If you find yourself working non-stop, skipping meals, losing sleep, or taking on too many projects, you’re going to get burnout. It’s important for you to recognize your limit & do something about it. Plus, how are you going to be productive when you have zero motivation?
2. Avoid working on projects you don’t enjoy
When I first started freelancing full-time, I felt like I had to say yes to every project that came my way. I always thought that it would be the only money I’d make that month, or that I should get more experience. And of course that’s true to a point, but I also realized that I was working on so many projects that were not adding any value to my portfolio of work and I wasn’t pushing myself to learn new skills. I would dread waking up and having to work on their project, and wasn’t super proud of the finished project.
Want to say no? You don’t have to be harsh! Just simply say that you’re not a good fit, and if you can, recommend another designer that you think would be better for the job!
3. Avoid discounting your services
Once I had been in the business for a few years, I learned how to price my services and ask for what I deserved based on my skills and years in the industry. But way too many times, someone would come to me with a $300 budget for a logo—and I would do it. Why? I was worried about missing out on the $300 and was too scared to turn them down. And every time I took on the project, I would instantly regret it because the amount of time I would spend on the project wasn’t worth it.
I now have minimum amounts that I will accept for a brand or web design project—but if I am really passionate about the project or client, I might make an exception. I know how hard it can be to turn someone away because their budget doesn’t align with your services, but it’s important to value your time and the work you do. That’s one major change I’ve made in the last 6 months that has made my income triple what it was—I stopped handing out discounts and put my foot down.
5. Avoid doing things for free
Offering a giveaway every now & then is one thing, but giving away free services left & right will tarnish your brand. Nothing says “I don’t value myself” with providing free work to clients. I used to hate working with family and friends because I felt awkward pricing my services to them, so far too many times I would do things for free.
But, I do have an exception to this! My friend Will started an organization called Twelve Donations, and I happily volunteer my design services to him. Twelve provides free menstrual products to those living in poverty within Toronto and the GTA, and I’m super passionate about the work that he is doing. Spending a couple hours every week creating some posts for social media or updating the website for him brings me so much joy.
- Don’t feel the need to give someone a price right away—take your time and get back to them
- If someone doesn’t have the budget to work with you, ask yourself—Do you love their business? Will this be great to add to your portfolio?
- Don’t feel like you have to work with everyone—other clients WILL come to you