To take the job or not take the job . . . that is the question. Throughout my career so far, I have experienced some of the best and some of the worst clients. I have been treated with respect and properly compensated as well as completely overworked and under paid.
There will always be ups and downs in our lives, moments where taking the job is a necessity and makes sense in that moment. But I have to say, the more willing we are to accept and work for blood-suckers (and taking cuts in our pay), the more we may attract those exact types of clients on future jobs.
Saying no can feel intimidating or scary, especially when you are a freelancer. It can be tough to turn down money, but ultimately we need to evaluate if we are really maximizing our time as artists rather than wearing ourselves out over a million different jobs that aren’t leading us to our ultimate goal.
This whole concept remains new for me too and something I am practicing on a daily basis. Following is a list I have put a lot of thought into—I invite you to join me on this journey of self-respect, learning how to weed out unnecessary energy and work. You deserve to fully enjoy and maximize your potential and creative output, as well as give current and future clients your best possible work.
1. Does the potential job bring you joy?
First and foremost—does this potential job bring you joy? Do you feel excited about it or are you dreading the thought of it? If you are dreading it, but taking the job because you want to stay busy and working—DON’T DO IT. By saying no—this allows you to push for the right clients, dive into a passion project, network, or work on marketing materials for your business. If you are emitting this energy out to the world, taking a stand for your own happiness, you will soon notice a shift in the types of clients you are attracting into your world.
2. Money Talk
Is this client comfortable talking about money first? Can you both come to a fair negotiation that makes both of you happy? You are worth it! They came to you for a reason—they want what you can create. Be confident in your money talk. IF your potential client is asking you to perform four tasks for the price of one, in half the time it takes you to perform—it is not worth it. This is the meaning of being overworked and underpaid. You will end up resenting the client and not putting out your maximum effort. Besides, if there is promise of future work from this client—you will keep going through the same cycle over and over again. It’s not worth it!
3. Clear Expectations
It is so important to discuss your clients’ expectations for the job as well as what they can expect from you. If you process images at a slower pace, make sure you discuss this with your client so there are no gray areas and you can both work on a realistic timeline. If you lay out all of these expectations, you both can be on the same wavelength. This leaves little room for unwanted surprises, passive aggressive emails, or calls.
4. Paperwork (Estimates, Contracts, Expenses, Invoices)
Being in the creative field and having proper paperwork can be a challenge at times. In the past, I have kicked myself for not following through with paperwork because the client was really put off by it (RED FLAG) or it was a friend, or a friend’s friend. But the reality is, paperwork is important. It keeps you organized and helps you keep healthy relationships with your clients. This is something I used to be way too relaxed about and I have had a few moments where it bit me in the butt.
5. Overworked and underpaid? Just say no.
I can’t stress this point enough, so I am going to mention it one more time. If this potential client is asking you to perform multiple tasks and wants to pay you half of your rate—that’s CRAP. The only exception to this statement is if it’s a company/client that would be a game changer for your portfolio or resume and/or if there is a discussion on a proper increase in your rate for the future.
Our time is precious on this planet. Use it wisely. Weed out all the excessive nonessential “busy” work and start taking work that is essential to you and the growth of your business. You will be blown away at what will start opening up for you the moment you realize your worth. Stepping in to the unknown will become less intimidating and you will gain a new layer of confidence when talking with future prospects.
Join me on this journey. If you want to reach out or have any questions about this blog, I want to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.