One of the best blogging tips I got when I first started was to learn to say “no” to potential clients. I felt like I had to take on all projects that were thrown my way, even if I had no interest in them or the pay was way too low. There was this feeling that if I said no, the client wouldn’t bother getting in touch at a later date with another project.
This quickly led to burn out. I found myself working ridiculous hours, not getting a break at all. I started to hate blogging and writing, and nearly thought about giving up and finding a full-time job.
Then I started saying “no.” It wasn’t easy, but it was one of those blogging tips that I wished I’d followed much sooner.
Of course, I didn’t just say “no.” While I’ve read plenty of people say “no is a completely sentence,” I like to give explanations or reasons. I want to keep the door open for future work and to make it clear that I’m not saying no for the sake of it. Here are my top three tips to say no to writing clients.
Remain Polite the Whole Time
Writing clients may offend you with comments about how much they want to pay, but it’s important not to show that through your reply. Yes, it’s tempting to embarrass the client for asking for low rates or having extreme and impossible expectations for content. All you’re going to do is make yourself look bad in the process.
I’ve had potential clients tell me that they wanted to pay me half my asking rate. Some have even said they want free work for “exposure.” While I’ve been tempted to tell them where to go, I’ve used a few simple phrases.
“I wouldn’t be able to write for ‘exposure’ as it doesn’t pay the bills, and I can’t guarantee that ‘exposure’ will lead to paying work. When you have the budget to pay writers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.”
“I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have the budget for my skills. If that changes, please do get in touch.”
“My services don’t align with your [needs or budget] right now. I hope you find a writer who can help, but don’t hesitate to get in touch when your [needs or budget] changes.”
These simple phrases make it clear that I may be available in the future. The bridge hasn’t been burned, and there are chances that the client will come back. Not all do, but every now and then one will return.
Tell Them You Have Too Much Work
One of my biggest blogging tips is to be honest. You don’t have to go into detail, but just be honest about your situation. When clients ask for work but I’m booked up, I make it clear that that is why I’m saying no.
Most clients appreciate this honesty. By saying you’re booked up, you make two things clear:
- You’re popular, so they need to get in touch at an earlier date next time
- You don’t take on too much to risk missing deadlines and sending poor quality work
Writing clients want to know that you’re going to create good quality content. They don’t want to worry that you’re too popular for your own good. The last thing they want is to fear that you’re not going to put their work and their deadline first.
You don’t have to go into details about why you’re booked up. Some of the lines that I’ve used in the past include:
“I’m sorry, but I can’t take on this project. I’m currently booked up with work and will be for the next X weeks.”
“Your deadline doesn’t work for me, as my diary is currently full. Would X deadline work instead?”
In both cases, you’ve made it clear that this isn’t a permanent problem. It encourages writing clients to get in touch with more warning and you’ve given them options for a different deadline. Some clients will increase their deadline and others will just come back with a new project in the future.
Let Them Know About Future Circumstances
There are times that current writing clients cause a problem. They may not pay on time or can have extra expectations that weren’t made clear at first. Some will believe that they own you because they’re paying for work.
Sometimes you need to say no to future projects or current demands because of scope creep and problems. This can be delicate, especially if you don’t want to completely lose the client. If you want to lose the client, you still need to remain polite to avoid negative reviews online.
Try some of these lines:
“I won’t be able to take on your new project, as I’m booked up with work. Could I recommend [writer] for this project and hopefully I’ll be able to take on another in the future?”
“I am raising my rates moving forward. Future projects will be [new rate]. If this doesn’t work, I understand but please could you let me know?”
“Your projects are requiring more work than initially discussed. Because of this, rates need to increase to [new rate] to cover the extra work. Please could you let me know if you agree to this. If not, I understand and I wish you well.”
“I cannot work until your balance is fully paid. Please make payment immediately if you would like to stick to the current deadlines. Otherwise, new deadlines will need to be discussed once payment is made.”
You can make a few changes to the statements, depending on the exact problem. Remain firm but polite at the same time, especially when you still need paying for your work!
Hopefully these blogging tips for saying no to writing clients will help you moving forward. Politeness goes a long way in business. The customer isn’t always right, but you do need to be respectful, even when you really don’t want to be.
Do you need help telling potential clients no? I share much more with my writing students, including looking at responses to make sure they sound polite and firm before being sent to a client. You can find out more about my writing mentoring packages and become a student today.