It can be very hard to say no to a client, especially when they are your first or only client at the time.
However you need to look at it from YOUR point of view, not the clients.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you treat a freelancer the way they’re treating you?
We’re always advised to look at things from the other persons’ point of view. But in doing so we tend to forget about looking at it from our point of view and protecting our own interests.
You can’t expect a plumber to stay in business if he is constantly called with questions but never called out to do any repair work and never paid. Your mechanic can’t keep his shop open when people say I’ll bring it in next month. There are bills to pay.
Just because you don’t own a brick and mortar shop doesn’t mean you can operate without any payment. Your time spent on free work is time you could be spending on paid work or learning new skills.
NOTE: No one has to know you don’t have other work but consider this, you could be wrapped up working on something for free and miss an opportunity for a paid client!
Queue the song: “England Dan & John F. Coley – It’s Sad To Belong to someone else when the right one comes along!”
So how do you tell a client no?
First write down your reasons you don’t want to or are worried about working with them?
- They don’t pay me
- They expect free work
- They take up valuable time
- They ghost me.
Now take these items and write out a response setting aside any previous frustration or anger and remember that this person obviously doesn’t understand how business works so explain it in a calm but educational way.
You could say something like this:
“I’m sorry I can’t continue to help you for free, I have bills to pay and my business cannot continue without paid work. The time I’m taking to help you is pulling from other jobs from paying clients and your busy schedule keeps you from communicating for long periods of time. By the time we reconnect I have to reacquaint myself with your situation. Again this is time being taken from other clients.”
“May I suggest you search the internet for some web development groups that offer free or volunteer help. If I can be of assistance in this matter please let me know. Thank you for your interests and good luck in your future endeavors.”
You spent good time and money on your education. Now it’s time to get compensation for that time, effort and money. You have to chose if your compensation is going to be “Satisfaction” or “Money”!
Satisfaction doesn’t pay the internet or hosting bill, buy your computer or hardware or pay your course and membership fees.
By turning your point of view, it helps you to remember that although the customer is always right…if they aren’t paying…they’re NOT a customer…they’re asking for charity!