As freelance writers, we are our own bosses. We choose our clients and projects, the hours we work and where we work. As a freelance copywriter, I have one rule taking priority over everything else: I don’t turn work down.
I say yes more often than I say no.
In my six years of freelancing, I’ve refused work twice, maybe three times.

When work comes to me instead of me having to chase it, something in my DNA refuses to say NO.

I’ll bang my head on the keyboard, pull all-nighters but – at a huge personal cost to me (little sleep, hurried meals) and missed time with my family. Saying yes landed me more work but it also side tracked from my big goals and left me stressed.
Recently, I said yes to a project at a time when I needed to slow down. I ignored the whisper that told me I wasn’t suited to that particular industry.
I didn’t say no because I worry (sometimes) the client will go elsewhere and the work will dry up.
After submitting the project, it was clear my instinct was right. I wasn’t suited to it. So I let the work go. I was gutted for a long time and it sometimes plays in the back of my mind. What could I have done differently?
It was a blow, but I learnt what I needed to and moved on. We were not the right fit. I sabotaged myself by saying yes when I actually needed to say no.
The one word that can sabotage your business is: YES
Are you:

  • saying YES to everything that comes your way?
  • accepting work that you know you can’t deliver (not every writer is suited to every industry, that’s why niches are so popular)
  • helping a friend or colleague out for free because you didn’t want to say no and disappoint them?
  • willing to let a client treat you shabbily because you don’t want to drop them?
  • accepting low rates and struggling in your business?

These situations mean stress, tears and an unspoken question which niggles constantly ‘ what if I’m not cut out to be a freelancer?’ You probably wonder if everyone else is having a hard time or is it just you.
When that credit card payment is due, you’ll have to say yes. It’s fine if it’s the exception and not the norm. But leave yourself open to better opportunities by saying no more often, especially if you know (and heard that voice) saying it’s not right for you.
How to not say YES immediately
Next time the word YES is on the tip of your tongue, pause and say: Can I have some time to think about it? If it’s by email, then don’t answer that email straightaway, leave it for a few hours so you can think about it. It’s that simple.
Ask yourself if that’s what you want to do. If the answer is yes after a few hours, and there’s no doubt then go for it.
I’ve said YES many times in the last 6 years. I’m not saying yes now unless I think it’ll help me get closer to my goals in 2018.
What are you currently saying YES to that should actually be a NO?
Photo by Nico E. on Unsplash