Friday, October 16, 2009

On Knowing When to Say No

I had an inquiry recently from an SEO company. I work with several SEO companies already and know the drill, and I felt very confident with this one. The client seemed excited about me and thrilled to get me to handle the full volume of the writing work they needed--until I sent them my rates. Then the excitement evaporated.

The client was hoping to pay about a quarter of the amount I quoted. His business was a "volume game," he said--and it was his aim to get as much client work done as possible for as affordable an amount as possible. The per-hour rate he wanted might have been reasonable for a full-time employee with benefits and vacation days, but for me--paying double the Social Security taxes and buying my own healthcare, not to mention managing all the expenses of a small business--it was well below what I needed to make per hour. I told the client that regrettably our business models didn't match up, and wished him well.

Earlier in my career, I would have taken this job--I never said no. I didn't know where my next paycheck was coming from, and felt I had to grab whatever came by. But a day or two after I said no to this job, I was inundated with work--and now I'm booked well into next month with projects that pay me an hourly rate that works for me.

A year into my career, I never would have thought about how much I needed to make per hour to make a project worth my time--or that saying no to a low-paying job would leave more room and opportunity for the better projects. But they do. And those projects do come around. The other day when I gave a definitive, well-thought-out "no" to a project that didn't fit my business model, I realized how far I've come.

When was that moment for you?


Lillie Ammann said...


Congratulations on knowing what you need to make and not giving in.

I'm planning a series of posts on freelance writing and editing rates, and I'm trying to collect information via an anonymous survey. I hope you and many of your readers will take the survey so the results are based on enough responses to be valid.

Lillie Ammann said...

Oops, I didn't make the URL for the survey a link. This should work: information on the survey.

Me and My Boys said...

Great post! I too have gotten to the point of not accepting projects just to accept projects. Even the other day, I had a possible project and the more I found out about it, the more I didn't even want to work on it. I suggested they find another writer and never heard back! My "moment" happened after my second son was born and deciding that a project really had to be worth it for me to give up time with my boys :)

Lori said...

Fortunately/Unfortunately, I've had several of those moments. ;) When I've turned down - free exposure; getting in on the ground-floor opportunity; volumes of work if I just keep the price low; more for the other projects if I charge less for this; any chance to get paid more in the future for peanuts today (visions of Wimpy and Popeye here); any offer that ends in an insult over my rates; etc.; etc.; etc.....