As a freelance blogger, you jump at the chance of any high-paying gig.
Clients who understand your value — and have the budget to pay your rates — don’t come along every day. Just the thought of saying no to one of these clients leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I feel the same way about my own clients, so why would I turn down a client who seemingly had it all? We’ll get to that in a moment.
The really cool thing about this story is that even though I said no to the initial offer, I still managed to snag some ongoing work from the same client, under terms I felt comfortable accepting.
Want to know how you can turn your “No, thanks” into better gigs? Great! I’ll show you how I did it.
Here’s what I said no to
My client (let’s call him Joe) initially came to me wondering if I could ghostwrite a guest post for him. He already had connections with the site the post would be published on, so I had no problem with that. We agreed on a fair price, and I got to work.
Afterward, Joe said, “Could you help me get links on sites in your portfolio? I’ll pay you for including my link.”
I thought it sounded like a great offer at first, especially because he was offering more for the links than what I was charging him for ghostwriting.
But I couldn’t ignore the ethical considerations. I turned to my network of writers, and they all advised me against it.
I took about a week to contemplate the offer, but just thinking about it made me feel sick, so I knew I had to take a step back from it. (If you want to know why, I’ve explained it in more detail in another blog post titled Here’s Why I Won’t Contribute to Publications on Your Behalf as a Freelance Writer.)
I was dreading sending that “I’m sorry, Joe,” email. I felt like a jerk for “leading him on” at first, as I was initially going to take the gig. And I was sure this email was going to be the end of the decent pay he’d offered me. But I managed to keep my cool and send a kind and professional email.
I was surprised when that email wasn’t the end. Instead, it brought me a new and better offer from the same client.
How I turned “No, thanks” into “Heck, yes!”
In my email, I didn’t blatantly say, “I can’t work with you.” Instead, I gave Joe a few other options. My “No, thanks” email looked a lot like this:
Can we take a step back for a moment? After thinking about this offer, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with it. I’m a little wary that there’s no way I can guarantee a do-follow link, and I don’t want to rip you or the site owner off.
I appreciate you reaching out to me, but I think you’re better off guest posting yourself and getting links through your author bio. Otherwise, I’d be willing to ghostwrite content for you, but I can’t arrange the link agreement with the site on your behalf.
If you need any help with your own blog content, I’d be more than happy to assist you, but right now, I’m not willing to get paid for links.
Thank you, and let me know if you need anything else.
A few weeks later, he offered me another ghostwriting opportunity. He was managing the agreement with the target blog, so I said yes.
Shortly after that, Joe had me sprucing up some of his older blog content, and within 6 weeks, I earned $1,650 from him in projects ranging from short posts priced at $80 to longer blog posts at $250.
The moral of this story: don’t give an ultimate “No.”
Give your prospects an alternative or two so that when they need those extra services, you’re the first person who comes to mind.
Why you should say no, too
Saying no to an offer that’s sure to pay the bills is tough.
However, I think under the right circumstances, you should say no, too. Here are 3 reasons why:
1: If you’re not comfortable with the offer, it’s not worth sacrificing your reputation, business, or self-worth.
As you build your business, chances are you’ll receive several offers you aren’t comfortable with. Prospects might ask for something like the link-placing mentioned above, or they could simply be asking you to write on a topic you’re uncomfortable with.
The cool thing about being a freelancer is that you can always say no to any offer. When it’s risking your reputation, business, or self-worth, the money you’ll get from the gig simply isn’t worth it.
Courtney Carver says it well on BeMoreWithLess.com when she points out:
You can’t measure self-worth on a spreadsheet.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself what’s at risk if you take the offer. If you value your business and self-worth more than the dollar amount your prospect is promising you, then always go the “no, thanks” route. You’ll thank yourself later.
2: You’ll only feel relieved afterward.
Working with clients who are bringing you down may put a bit of money in your pocket, but at what expense?
If you’re constantly worrying about the ethics of your decision and what it’s going to do to your business, is that really a situation you want to be in?
After a week of contemplating Joe’s offer, I didn’t feel a single regret for turning down the money. What I felt was relief that I no longer had to wonder if I was doing the right thing.
3: Saying no doesn’t kill all opportunities.
With a lot of prospects, saying no will be the end of things, but I’m living proof that it doesn’t always mean you’ve killed every opportunity.
That’s the cool thing about saying no: it clears the way for better offers.
That doesn’t mean all new opportunities will come from the same client. It might just mean that you’ve opened your schedule for a better client or project.
As long as you’re striving towards something greater, I’m a firm believer that you’ll get there.
Tell me: Have you ever wanted to say no to a client offer? Whether you said no or not, what happened next?