I’m about to blow your mind: you don’t have to take on every single client who’s willing to give you money. If somebody approaches you with work and you get a big old case of the heebie jeebies — you just know something is not right here — TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF. Or, you know, say it in nicer terms. (Which is what I would actually recommend. Please don’t tell anyone to fuck off.)
Here’s what you need to say: ‘I don’t feel we’re a good fit.’
That’s all. Simple and effective. I’ve seen many newbie freelancers faced with douchebags of the highest order… and then start working with them. WHY?
You know the douchebags I’m talking about: they instantly demand lower rates. They tell you their other writers ‘do it for less’. And they just generally seem a bit cunty. (Newflash: that’s because they are. How many times do I have to tell you to listen to your gut?)
And hey, sometimes they’re not even douchebags! Sometimes it’s just somebody who wants you to write about something you’re not comfortable with (short-term high-interest loans? vaginal tightening surgery?), or maybe just about a topic that bores you to tears (airport parking? heat exchangers?). You don’t have to work with those guys either.
It’s the most liberating feeling, turning round and telling somebody you just know is going to be a complete bitch to work with that actually, no, you’re NOT going to work with them.
Just remember: this is YOUR business. You are your own boss, and that means you’re the one calling the shots. So if you don’t want to work with somebody, you don’t bloody well have to.
I experienced this myself back in the days of yore (channelling Rachel from Friends right now). It was the strangest sensation realising that I didn’t actually have to work with somebody who wanted to hire me. When you start out, you inevitably feel you have to scrabble to take on anyone and everyone who is willing to give you money.
BUT YOU DON’T. There will be others. So if something doesn’t feel right, I say nix it. Fuck ‘em and move on.
Revolutionary, I know. Your business, your rules.
Remember: ‘I don’t feel we’re a good fit.’ Internalise that shit and whip it out the next time you’re up against a potential demon of a client.