Monday, June 27, 2011

Follow Up: Knowing When to Say “No” to Freelance Clients

The last post, "Knowing When to Say 'No' to Freelance",  was a commentary on the first instance where I had learned when to say no to a wedding calligraphy client: the hard way. This past week, I came across this again: only this time, I was able to recognize the client and say “no”.

This woman emailed me 3 times and left me a voicemail on the same day, while I was at work, to schedule a consultation. And while I don’t believe she was mean-spirited, it was indicative of her already neediness and disregard for my time. I returned her phone call that night when I came home, intending to have a quick consult. This conversation turned into over an hour, during which time she required my assistance creating labels in Microsoft Word to submit me the names for her wedding invitations. She also was repetitive, indecisive, and unsure of what she wanted.

After I (finally!) hung up – during which I’m pretty sure she was trying to ask another question – I was thinking, there’s no way I can work with this woman. Not only was this going to be a huge time-suck out of my life, but it was only for 30 envelopes, which would have been about $60. Not to say that this job wouldn’t have been as valuable as my larger clients, but weighing out the cost of back and forth correspondence and the work itself, it was just not worth the headache or emotion.
Add this to the fact that she was a bit older, which is not my target market – which is typically brides ages 20-35: so chances of referral business was also very low. So all those considerations and three follow up emails later that same night, I informed her that something came up, and I was unable to work with her, and even provided her with some well-respected calligraphers within the industry that she could go to. Which, I got a very large needy email response again.

Just another learning experience: some small business owners are well-equipped or enjoy working with clients such as this. With a full time job, a store to run, inventory to make and other clients to work for, you need to prioritize and recognize when things are not worth it. I usually take on the world, but my reality now is that I just can’t stretch myself to that limit anymore.

Have you ever cut off a client before working with them? Did you regret it?

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