Especially when you are at the beginning of your career as a web designer, you may be tempted to accept all sorts of jobs, just to extend your portfolio and gain experience.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as you do need jobs, in order to become an expert, but sometimes you need to learn when to say no. Accepting jobs that don’t suit you or working with difficult clients will only end up causing you more frustration.
But how can you know when to accept a job and when to say “No, thank you.” and move on? Once you are offered a project, start by asking yourself a few questions before you accept it.
Ask these questions before saying yes to a web design project
Can I meet the deadline?
While you may be tempted to accept as many jobs as possible and fill your every hour, you definitely don’t want to end up not being able to finish them and sacrifice your reputation. If you keep accepting projects without considering if they fit your schedule or not, you will end up having to sacrifice the quality of your work just to meet the deadlines, which will result in unsatisfied clients and bad reviews.
Before accepting a new project, take a look at the workload you currently have and realistically ask yourself if you can fit another project in your schedule. If the answer is “Maybe.”, then you should better say no. If the client is flexible enough with the deadline, then maybe you can discuss it.
All in all, the best way to make sure you don’t end up with too much work on your hands is to thoroughly track the hours you need to spend on every project.
Is this a legitimate job?
Sadly, many web designers have been confronted with one or more situations where the client was not who they claimed to be and, just before payday, they simply vanished. The internet grants some sort of anonymity, which makes it ten times easier for scammers to target freelancers.
To avoid these situations where you spend days working on a project only to discover the client is nowhere to be found afterward, you need to understand the importance of doing your research well.
First of all, look at the reviews and find out if there are any negative comments written about your prospective client before accepting the job. If there are no reviews, do a bit more digging.
If your client is a company, try to look online for either the company’s website or their LinkedIn profile. If your client is an individual, you can do a free background check to see if they are who they claim to be.
Am I content with the pay rate?
Accepting a lower payment than you usually charge may seem better than getting nothing, especially if you find yourself going through a dry spell. But it will often end up doing you more bad, than good.
First of all, it will make you unconsciously devaluate your abilities and work. How are clients supposed to think your skills are worthy of a higher pay rate if you don’t believe that yourself? Accepting less than you think you deserve will give clients the feeling you are not confident in your work and, if they did it once, they will probably try to do it again.
Second, the freelance world is not as big as you think. Clients talk, your competitors talk, and if you make a habit out of charging less than your usual pay rate, because if a slow period, you will end up having a tough time asking for your normal price afterwards. If it is extremely necessary, one way you can do this without repercussions is to announce a limited time discount for your gigs.
How flexible is the client?
While you want your clients to know what they are looking for, if they end up acting like they are the expert and not you, it’s time to walk away from them. Your clients need to understand that you know what you are doing and should not limit your creativity just because they desperately want you to use a specific color that does not fit well with the overall scheme.
If they start meddling in your work more than they should, keep you cool and try to explain to them why their ideas may not work. Sometimes, their intentions are not bad, but they simply care too much about their business and are afraid you may not understand that. However, if you have gone out of your way to make them understand why they should trust your knowledge and that you have their best interest at heart, but they are still stubborn, it may be time to let that project go.
Are we communicating well?
When working with a client, especially remote, good communication is paramount. Sure, everybody has days when they can’t be available at every minute, but if they end up doing that every time you have a request, it may be time to reconsider.
Your client should be the first one to want the project done faster and in the best way possible, so what does this lack of communication say about them? These clients typically expect you to be an all-knowing, all-powerful being that knows exactly what they want and when. If they don’t understand that open communication is the only way to efficiently get things done, then the best thing you can do is politely decline and move on to the next project.
Am I looking forward to starting this project?
Probably one of the first reasons you ended up working as a freelancer is to pursue your dream career and ensure that you are always passionate about your work. Don’t throw that away by accepting dull jobs just to cash in a big check.
One of the beauties of freelancing is that you can select those gigs that make you feel excited and happy to get it done and nicely turn down those that will only end up getting you frustrated. And, while you may find yourself having to compromise from time to time, don’t make a habit out of it. You will end up spending days or even weeks doing something you don’t like, or having to deal with a difficult client for nothing.