Just because you are offered a project by a potential new client, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. In fact, once you’ve celebrated the fact you have a brand new client, you might well find yourself saying: “Why on earth did I agree to do this?”
Here are ten reasons why I politely decline a project.
1. The potential client wants to beat me down on price.
2. They don’t agree to paying me 50% upfront. If they are unknown to me, I need to be sure they are serious about the project and serious about paying me.
3. They set unrealistic deadlines, such as phoning me on a Friday lunchtime and saying they need a brochure written for Monday morning. Actually on one such occasion, I didn’t refuse the project, instead I said: “Yes, I can do this but I charge double if you want me to work weekends.” Their response was: “I think we can wait until Thursday for it.”
4. They say: “I’ve never worked with a copywriter before – what happens if I don’t like your style?” That’s a big warning bell because they generally have no idea what tone of voice their company should be using and they also change their mind constantly about what it is they actually want.
5. They say: “I don’t actually have any budget for this, can we do a contra deal?” Contra deals don’t pay the bills and, anyway, what if the product/service they are offering is something I don’t want?
6. They say: “To save money, I’ve written the web copy myself, can you work your magic on it?” My reply to this is: “It’s like saying ‘I’ve baked a plain sponge but it’s all burnt. Can you you turn it into a delicious chocolate gateau?’ No, but I can throw away your burnt sponge and bake you a new cake from scratch.”
7. They say: “I haven’t got time to brief you – I’ve only got 45 minutes.” How can you get ‘under the skin’ of a new client in 45 minutes?
8. I don’t like the client. I need to get on with people I work with.
9. It’s not a project that interests me. I can’t do my best work when my heart isn’t in it. It also ends up being a real chore.
10. It’s a project that isn’t really ‘my bag’. I tend to write for business to business clients so I wouldn’t accept consumer writing projects that are, for example, for health/beauty/fashion products.
What are the reasons why you turn down work?