How to Know When to Walk Away

walk-awayRemember when you first started as a freelancer? You were probably desperate for a gig–any gig–where you could show that you really could do this. You wanted to show the world that you were good. That you were worth hiring.

You needed money, sure, but the money mattered less than proving that you were a serious freelancer who should be paid money in the first place.

Your first client offered you an insultingly low rate, and you took the job–because it meant that you were a real freelancer.

Flash forward to present day. You wouldn’t accept low rates anymore. You’ve grown, you’re established and you know your own worth.

But, you still may be selling the value of your services short. It’s very easy to catch yourself accepting a rate lower than your ideal one–no matter how established a freelancer you are. You need to know when you should walk away. In this post, we list some three situations when you should refuse work. We also provide some tips to help you walk away from work when you need to.

1. When You Don’t Need the Money

No matter how hard freelancers try to stave off the feast-or-famine cycle, it still hits every one of you now and then. You need money, and you need it now. If that’s the case, don’t think. Do your best to get the rate you deserve, but if all you can manage is the lower rate, you may not have time to look around for a better client.

The problem is that a lot of freelancers behave this way even when they can afford to let the job go by. Often, freelancers become so used to needing to land every single client that they lower rates–sometimes drastically–to land the deal even if there’s money in the bank.

If you’re actually financially secure or if you can get by with a little belt-tightening, then don’t take the job. Your time is better spent looking around for a better project with a better rate–because you have the leisure of not needing money right this second.

2. When You Don’t Need the Grief

There are clients out there (an infinite number of them, too) who expect the sun and the stars, no matter how little they pay. These clients revision you to death when you’ve already put in hours of work. These clients constantly ask for last-minute deadlines. These clients always complain.

Walk away, every single time. If a client isn’t paying you to deal with the grief, you don’t need to hear it. It stresses you out, makes you less excited about new clients, and sucks up every minute of your time and energy. There is absolutely no upside to having one of these clients, so pick yourself up and walk away.

And, don’t look back.

3. When You Don’t Need the Mindset

Some freelancers accept low rates because they’ve decided that they’re only worth low rates. They’re not willing to ask for a larger figure because they’re afraid of turning off clients they’re quoting. They don’t think they deserve it.

You don’t need that mindset. You’re worth every penny of what you charge and probably more, if any of the articles posted lately about raising your prices are even halfway accurate. Don’t waffle about your prices, and don’t apologize for them either. Ask for what you want in a firm tone.

Even better–don’t ask. Just tell potential clients that these are your rates. If they aren’t willing to pay them, they should look elsewhere (don’t tell them that, of course; be diplomatic).

Confidence like that often gets you the job. People want to know you’re certain of your abilities. That’s a mindset you can take to the bank–instead of watching client after client wear you down to a fraction of your worth.

How to Walk Away

If you run into any of these scenarios and decide you’re walking way, be calm about turning the client down. Tell them, “I’m really sorry to hear that you won’t be able to fit my services into your budget. I wish you the best of luck in finding the right copywriter/designer/coder/whatever for you.”

Make it about them. You aren’t too expensive–they can’t find the money in the budget. Often, when they think about the problem that way, it turns out they do have the money in their budget after all.

And, that’s great for you.

Because the best part of walking away is when you hear that voice calling you back.

What Do You Think?

How do you decide when to turn a job down?

Image by shannonsphotographyinc