Freelancers: Are You Too DIY?

As a freelancer, many of us have the DIY (do-it-yourself) attitude. DIY means more work, more potential portfolio pieces, and most importantly… more money. But sometimes, the DIY approach, and taking on too much, can kill creativity and make clients second-guess their outsourcing needs.

It’s only natural for the everyday client to assume his/her freelancer’s ability. Take the following questions as prime example:

Example #1

“Since you’re designing my Website… Can you just write all the copy too?”

Example #2

“We love the photography! Can you put together a quick Web gallery so I can show all my friends and family?”

Example #3

“The last print ad you did for us was stunning. We loved your creative writing. Now we’re in need of a 40-page technical user’s guide to go along with a new product we’re launching.”

Any of this starting to sound familiar? When faced with everyday questions like these, it’s important to know your freelancing boundaries. Several questions need to be asked before a quick “yes” jumps from your mouth:

  • Does this project lie within your expertise of freelance services?
  • Do you have the resources to carry out such a project?
  • Do you have the time?
  • Can you fulfill every detail of the client’s needs without falling short?
  • Will this add to your portfolio, or simply become a quick moneymaker?

The Desire To Please Your Clients

In a lot of cases, the desire to please your client is understandable. And sometimes, the requested project seems doable. However, passing up on a quick dollar and pointing your client in the direction of someone far more experienced will only send a positive reinforcement that you are to be trusted.

And after all, as a freelancer, isn’t trust the key component we strive to gain from our clients day in and day out? This trust has the potential to come back tenfold with more projects and possibly other consulting and/or networking services. But it doesn’t stop there. You don’t always have to say “No… but I know someone else who can.” There’s many other ways to handle the DIY dilemma.

Perhaps you’re a copywriter but you have a good freelancing friend who’s a designer. Well, in some cases, it takes two to tango. Why not take on the project, manage it from start to finish and give your buddy a cut of the budget? Depending on your relationship with the other freelancer, this tactic could be a marvelous new partnership or a disaster waiting to happen.

Admitting Your Lack Of Expertise

Another idea is to admit your lack of expertise to the client. Let them know that you don’t feel comfortable giving them mediocre work, when you know it could be stellar. Ask if you can provide your own networking resources to help them find a freelancer fit for the job. Lastly, let the client know your desire to work closely with the other freelancer.

If this is a longtime client, they will appreciate your willingness to safeguard their brand and pass on your knowledge of the business objectives.

Last is a recommendation that we’ve all made. If we hadn’t, then none of us would be here. It involves more time, more caution and much more risk. The tip? Just do it!

I know, I know… I’m going against the title of this article. But come on guys, we’ve all been there! At some point you have to take that risk of taking on an uncomfortable project. Hopefully you’re not promising to design a Website if you’ve never used Photoshop, but you get my drift.

Consider if you’re an established blog writer. It’s not out of the question to get asked to write for a magazine. Learning how to change voices and the tone you write with will only further your career as a freelance writer. Plus, it will get your name out to a new audience. This lovely game of freelancing is all about risk. It’s the risk we hate. It’s the risk we love. It’s the risk that makes us who we are.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, what’s the final advice? Sure, there are some great ideas when you need to handle too much DIY. But on the other hand, I encourage you to be bold and know your realm of possibilities. KNOW your realm… don’t invent it overnight! Take pride in your work as a freelancer and be ready to push yourself into new and exciting services.

Bryan McCarty


About the author: Bryan McCarty is a freelance copywriter, blogger and photographer. His photography can be viewed at and his copywriting portfolio at McCarty is the founder and editor-in-chief of, an environmental blog dedicated to keeping peoples green lives informed and progressing.