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Are You Embarrassed to Say No to Your Clients?

Here’s Why you should not shy away from saying NO

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels (Edited by the author)

Are you accustomed to saying "Yes" when your mind is screaming, "Hell! No"?

As a new freelancer who has quit the 9–5 or for anyone who wants to make a fortune quickly by freelancing, saying NO feels like missing a BIG opportunity.

When the freelance writing bug bit me, I was all for saying "Yes" to everything and everyone. I took more clients than I could handle. I was afraid and slightly embarrassed to say "No." So I went all-in for people-pleasing.

If a measly client asked for editing a large document (for free), I obliged, a new client asking for a fresh free writing sample; I spent the next four to five hours working on it only to be ghosted.

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” — Josh Billings

Adverse effects of Saying "Yes" instead of "No."

Having written several blog posts for pennies and wondering if I should call it quits to writing, switching gears, developing skills (and courage), asking for a 100x higher price, and getting it, I speak with experience.

  • If you lack the skill, time, or feel the job's not worth the effort, still do it, you'll feel energy drained and not do a good job anyway.
    I burned out writing long-form articles a day and editing them at 4 AM the following day to have it submitted by 9 for the client.
  • You'd be shattered and will despise writing. My love for the craft of writing vanished in thin air though I always believed I was a born writer.
    Did you fair well in a subject you had no interest in during high school? Probably you studied, hoping not to fail.
  • Waste of hours researching for new topics. The problem in researching and writing about every subject is you have to spend hours exploring new topics every time. Still, your writing will lack in quality and depth of an expert.
    When there is a deadline looming, and you're not knowledgeable in a topic, all you can do is sweat it hot, sweat it cold, and yet your article will still be dead fish.

Learn to Say No and Earn more $$$

Soon enough, it dawned on me that writing within my area of expertise or topics that interested me was the missing piece of my freelancing career, which was already on death tracks.

After that realization struck, I decided — No more writing about "Ferrets as pets," "Top 10 attractions in Moscow," or "Benefits of installing a mouse-trap" and 100 other random topics.

Sure, you need experience or expertise to write well on a topic. But if you're an expert in any two or three niches, you can write like a pro, and it's hard for a newbie to beat you at it. In addition, readers will be more engaged and can see the difference.

You’ll realize why the one ultimate productivity hack for freelancers is to start by saying NO.

Benefits of Saying No

I chose to be selective, and guess what? Not only does writing feel easier, faster, but also more clear. It results in a much happier client. My love for words bounced back.

  • Once you start writing for clients in your area of genius (knowledgable is enough ;))and start saying "No" to the other stuff, you can command your price and get it.
  • If you are not an expert at anything yet, you can build it. However, not everyone starts after they are an expert. The truth is — you grow into an expert.
  • You will be looked up as a leader and end up being a go-to person for that topic, and often recommendations start flowing your way.

Look, after you write for a handful of clients, you will be able to decide what interests you and build on it. You can always change it tomorrow or the next year. We constantly evolve, and our interests change too, and it's ok.

It's not an easy task to land your ideal client. I get it. But it's not impossible. You need less than five to six well-paying clients to earn a decent five-figure income annually. Go and find them. You'll be happier, wealthier, and have more time for yourself.

Be Choosy

Hey, it's important to say "No" to unsuitable clients in your niche too. Bad clients are a pain in the a$$.

You'll find they won't pay on time, penny-pinch their way to buy more time and effort than what was expected of you, unresponsive and unavailable to your queries. Instead, they send back for too many edits and often complain at the drop of a hat…

After seeing those red signs, you know what to do.

Working for such clients not just burns you out; it doesn't you any fulfillment at the end of the day. But freelancing is all of this if you've entered it.

Though every successful writer on this planet preaches this, even the top freelancers are often lured by praise, more money, or a fear of missing out and end up with an unexpected "Yes!" and regret in a few minutes.

In business (and in life), it's time we learn to say NO without guilt and say YES without resentment.

Didn't you decide to be a freelancer so you can be your boss? Remember to say "No" (politely, of course!) when you should and walk away with your head held high. Know your boundaries as a freelancer and let anyone cross them at your own risk.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” Paulo Coelho

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Brinda Koushik | Copywriter | Mom | Avid Reader

Brinda Koushik | Copywriter | Mom | Avid Reader

Copywriter | Case studies specialist | Linkedin: | SaaS, Tech, Parenting| For inquiries email:

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