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Scheduling can be a bitch. Sometimes, your days freelancing will be filled with trolling, with jobs seeming like a needle in a haystack . Other days, you have every client in your address book sending work your way. When that happens, you only have two choices – farm out some of the work to other writers you know or just say no.

The problem with saying no to your clients is that sometimes they just can’t wait for time on your schedule to open. They need articles/posts/ebooks/whatever…and then need them now. So, they look somewhere else for a writer. There are many good writers on the Internet, so it is possible that they stick with the person who filled your shoes. In other words, they may replace you if you say no.

Some clients are also easily insulted. I used to have a client like that – he didn’t understand that I actually have a life and other projects. He was easily angered if my schedule was too full, as though I should drop everything for him. I’m happy to say that I don’t work with this client anymore, but sometimes the pay is worth the stress of an otherwise crappy client. Say no to this kind of guy, though, and you could easily find yourself minus a client, even if you he or she doesn’t really need the work right away.

So, how do you say no to work without losing your clients? Here are some tips:

  • Give a date when you will be available. “Not, but…” is a great way to hook your client, getting him/her to think about whether the short delay is really such a big deal. Many times, they’ll agree if you give them a specific date.
  • Consider having some writers on call for filtering work. Always be completely transparent with your clients – if you’re farming out work, you need to make sure it is ok first. Most will agree if you’ve done good work for them in the past and personally guarantee someone’s work. Don’t shortchange the people writing for you, either. You can take a cut to cover you editing time and banking fees, but give your writers a fair price!
  • Answer the email promptly. If you can’t do the job, at least make sure that your client has as much time as possible to find someone new. Little professional touches like that will be remembered.

Most importantly, keep enough clients in your stable that you don’t have to panic if you lose one. If I find my schedule suddenly filling up for a month, I email everyone, making it clear that the rest of my time is on a first-come first-served basis.

Sometimes, you also may not have to say no. Are you willing to work extra hours, staying up all night to completely a project, if you get paid more? Hmmm…more on that later…

A version of this post, written by me, was first published on b5media’s Bizzia website. It is reposted here with permission.

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