Successful Freelance Writers Say No

Successful freelance writers know when to say No. That means that they have the willpower to tell people they won’t do the things that can sabotage their success. For some freelance writers the list is different than for others. Some writers freelance precisely because they want certain freedoms and they want to be available to do certain things. In general though, it is easy to pick out what to say no to.

No, I won’t reduce my rate

I work hard and I know how much money I need to live the way I want. Thats why my rates are what they are — because it’s what I’m comfortable with. If you’re too cheap to hire a good writer, go out and find a bad one.

No, I won’t pick your kid up just because I’m “at home anyway”

Working from home allows for some freedom, but I am running a small business. If you need to take off to get your kid, you can at least claim paid time off (PTO). There’s no PTO for freelance writers. If we aren’t producing, we don’t get paid. Go get your own kid.

No, I won’t watch TV during the day

Sometimes the person you have to say no to is yourself, and this is one of those cases. There are a hundred little temptations such as watching TV, going for a swim, going out to lunch or taking a nice little nap. Those are reasonable breaks if you are otherwise productive, but when they become a daily habit the difference between freelancer and unemployed lump narrows considerably.

No I won’t travel across town for an impromptu meeting

There’s nothing worse than meetings. For more information about meeting avoidance read: Successful Freelance Writers Avoid Soul Sucking Meetings

No I won’t answer the phone or respond to email all day

It’s good to be available for your clients, but for the most part they are paying for results, not availability. Twice a day is plenty of interaction — too much in most cases. Unless you are conducting an interview or negotiating a contract, most phone calls are unproductive.

Ways to say no

There are many ways to say no, gently or firmly. Here are a few:

  • I’m too busy.
  • I have a rule against that.
  • I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
  • I have a scheduling conflict.
  • I’m not taking on additional work at this time.
  • I think I can recommend someone more suited to your needs.
  • That isn’t the sort of work I do.
  • My fee structure is higher than that.
  • I have other commitments.
  • I can’t fit that into my schedule at this time.
  • That would be outside of my skill set.
  • Isn’t that a job you should be doing?
  • That is not the best use of my time.
  • Are you insane?
  • What makes you think I would do that?
  • Have you been drinking?
  • Stop bothering me you co-dependent leech.
  • I’ll put that on my list of things to not get to.

Need more practice saying no? Try these articles:

3 thoughts on “Successful Freelance Writers Say No

  1. Ha! Thanks for this. I needed a good laugh. I usually say the “Are you insane?” out loud to my computer (because I enjoy talking to inanimate objects), but my actual response is a bit more tame.

    One of the greatest things about dealing with people online is having the advantage of waiting to respond until you can find the right words. Another advantage is that it’s often easier to say no to someone via email than it is when the person is standing right in front of you. You also have the ability to ignore/delete communications from crazy people.

    I recently had someone contact me to write press releases for a book that hasn’t been published yet, and she wanted to pay me in a percentage of book sales. I got a headache reading the email. I was lost for a response that didn’t include profanities or references to crack smoking, so I went with my old standby — and evidently one of yours — “That isn’t the sort of work I do.” She responded by asking me if I could put her in touch with an agent who could get her book published. I told her I wouldn’t know where to begin and wished her luck. She then sent me a list of reasons why her book would be the next Harry Potter. I eventually blacklisted her email address.

  2. Hi Amy,
    Wow, you really ran into a dreamer that time. For me, that’s one it is easy to say no to. I simply quote them a rate, tell them cash in advance and move on. I wouldn’t bother to respond to the second email you received, they’re clearly not the type of client I would want. The offers that are difficult are when they are proposing reasonable money to perform an unreasonable task. I once had to turn down an offer to write copy for a site that was clearly a scam. The money wasn’t a problem, but I couldn’t let myself be a part of such a rip off.

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